Reader Tim’s Neighbor is someone I’ve corresponded with a bit, as he worked for the Braves until recently. No, he wasn’t executive vice president of baseball operations or anything, but when it comes to the issue of Jose Reyes and the curiously wet Turner Field infield, he has some special insight and expertise.
Here’s what Tim’s Neighbor had to say about it in the comments thread a few minutes ago. While it may work to defuse conspiracy theories — and who among us doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory — it probably describes the situation more accurately all the same:
I just left the Braves Ground crew. I was full time this season up until a few weeks ago. No way it was intentional. The crew are creatures of habit who don’t divert from what they are supposed to do every day. And they do a damn fine job. I actually texted my buddy on the crew still still and he confirmed that there was nothing sinister. He said it looked fine even when they dragged both times.
It was crazy hot here yesterday. You have to throw a little extra water down so the field doesn’t crack over the three hours of heat. Sometimes, you throw a little extra down. The Braves Field Director is a lot of things that I won’t go into, but the dude knows is stuff and is widely regarded as one of the best in the biz (he also does the Super Bowl every year).
I’m guessing that Reyes doesn’t know the least bit about field and turf management. He should stick to getting on base and being speedy.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.