We’ve known that Yankees backup catcher Francisco Cervelli has had some concussion-like symptoms since he was leveled at home plate by Nick Markakis in last Thursday’s game against the Orioles. But yesterday it was confirmed: dude has a concussion and he’s on the shelf indefinitely. Given that he has suffered at least two and possibly three concussions in the past couple of years, he could be out a really long time as recovery time tends to drag on a bit longer for each one.
That means that both Jesus Montero and Austin Romine — the two catching prospects who have basically spent all year in the minors — are likely to make the playoff roster. Montero as the DH/emergency catcher, Romine as the backup catcher. At least I would assume.
Joe Girardi is a former catcher of course, and there have been indications that he is way more concerned about defense behind the dish than your average manager (Mike Scioscia is like this too). Montero clearly has some issues back there. I’ve never seen Romine catch, but it’s been said that he’s competent but by no means spectacular. One wonders if this will impact Girardi’s decisions if, say, Russell Martin is a bit banged up. Or if Giardi is the kind of guy who would rather go with the devil he knows — Jorge Posada — rather than the devil he doesn’t in two young kids.
A major issue? Nah, because Cervelli really isn’t a very good baseball player. But the kind of thing that can have a fairly large impact due to the position involved and, more importantly, the psychology surrounding the position involved.
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.