Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera is close to the all-time saves record

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The point to this David Waldstein article in the New York Times is that Mariano Rivera’s imminent surpassing of Trevor Hoffman on the all-time saves list is getting surprisingly little hype.  Given that, until I read this David Waldstein article in the New York Times I wasn’t aware that Mariano Rivera was about to surpass Trevor Hoffman, I tend to think he has a point.

So: Mariano Rivera has 599 saves. Hoffman finished with 601.  You have to figure that Mo will be a lock for it in the last couple weeks of the season. Which will be fitting because there’s no sense in muddying up the conversation about who the best closer of all time is by having the guy who actually is (Rivera) not have the record in the stat a lot of people think is important in that regard. Even if it isn’t really important.

Which makes me wonder about the reason for the lack of hype. Part of me wants it to be because everyone knows that saves is a dumb stat and that Rivera’s legacy in no way requires that record to be complete.  But I think too many people do value saves, so that’s probably not what’s happening.

I think that Rivera is just showing — again — how true greatness and dominance can get actually get boring after a while, causing us to lose sight of it.  I mean, it would be one thing if there was a dramatic arc to Rivera’s career. But really there isn’t. It’s been greatness since he began, followed by greatness, and continuing on through greatness, basically unabated. Sure, you have a season of him as a mediocre starter for spice. A high-profile blown save a decade ago.  But really that’s not enough to break the chain.

Rivera’s doing something awesome and historic?  Again?  Well, OK, wake me when it’s time for dinner.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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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.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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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.