Ken Williams, noting that they’ve had “warnings” that Ozzie Guillen would not be back in 2012, said last night that he already has a narrowed-down list of candidates to replace Guillen as White Sox manager. According to Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago, Buddy Bell is at the top of that short list.
It’s hard to say how much juice there is to Bell’s candidacy — I’m sure a lot of names will spin out in the coming days and weeks — but Bell is currently in a the Sox’ front office, so it makes sense that his name comes up. If there is any traction to the idea of Bell taking over, you can probably imagine that the Sox are going to do their best to blow up the current roster and rebuild, because that’s pretty much Bell’s niche in the world as a manager.
Indeed, he has had three previous stints as a manager. In at least two of those cases — Detroit and Kansas City — he was part of a full-fledged rebuilding effort. He led both of those teams to a .399 winning percentage. He had more to work with in Colorado and finished at .465.
We’re less than 12 hours from the announcement of Ozzie Guillen’s departure so, sure, take what you hear about his replacement with a grain of salt. But to the extent we hear more names like Bell’s, the greater suggestion it is that Kenny Williams is going to tear it all down and start from scratch.
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.