UPDATE: Chip Hale has been hired by the Athletics. Quick work, there, Chip!
3:50 PM: The Mets announced a few minutes ago that bench coach Ken Oberkfell, third base coach Chip Hale, first base coach Mookie Wilson, and bullpen coach Jon Debus won’t be with the the major league club in 2012. It’s not clear yet if they’ve all been canned for good or are just being reassigned. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.com reports that Hale was invited back to the team in another role for 2012 but declined.
I never know what to think of these kinds of things. Hitting coaches and pitching coaches at least have some tenuous metric by which they are judged (even if it’s hard to find a connection between their coaching and the metrics). Maybe a third base coach who has a lot of runners shot down at the plate needs to be reassigned. It’s a little harder for first base coaches and bullpen coaches, I presume. Often times, however, these guys have other duties besides those. For example, Andy Martino reports:
Sources say there were concerns about Wilson’s work preparing OF defense, particularly Duda.
Other first base coaches work on base running and stuff too. Kind of a catch-all coach. Mookie probably did an OK job patting the base runner on the tush and collecting the shin guards, but didn’t exactly excel in other areas. It happens. Even to guys with cool names like Mookie.
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.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.