To be clear: I do not buy into the premise that a guy who “carried his team to the playoffs” deserves the MVP. Mostly because I don’t believe that one player can truly do that. Baseball is not basketball. It takes an entire team to win anything, and even if some guy gets hot at the right time, there were wins earlier in the season that helped the team into the playoffs that were attributable to others’ contributions. The baseball season is just too long and too many things happen to say one guy dragged his teammates to glory.
But if you are someone who buys into that — and given how much support Justin Verlander has received of late for that very reason, there are many — don’t you have to think hard about switching your vote to Jacoby Ellsbury?
The Sox have been truly awful in September, but Ellsbury has been a bright spot. He’s hitting .322/.377/.551 with seven homers and 19 RBI on the month. Add in last night’s heroics for the narrative-lovers and you have a much more solid case — if the Sox hold on and make the playoffs — that Ellsbury dragged his teammates over the hump than you do for Verlander who, while awesome, is pitching for a team who clinched last week and has a huge lead.
Not to say that Ellsbury isn’t a fine choice even if you don’t subscribe to the “he carried them in” school of thought — he is — but if that’s the basis for your vote for Verlander, how do you not switch to Ellsbury right now?
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.