Via The Platoon Advantage, we come across three more Hall of Fame voters, all from Chicago, who have determined based on either (a) nothing; or (b) rumor or information that they posses but don’t feel is up to the standards of being published in a piece of ethical journalism,* that Jeff Bagwell did steroids and thus isn’t worthy of the Hall of Fame. They are Philip Hersh and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune and Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald.
Hersh says “I’m still too suspicious about Jeff Bagwell to include him.” Sullivan lumps Bagwell in with the “unindicted but suspected contributors to the PED mess.” Gregor says “[s]uspicions of using “performance enhancing drugs” weigh heavily on my decision to leave off productive players such as Bagwell, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez.”
Hey, their ballots. They can use ’em how they want to. I just hope for their sake no one judges their careers’ worth in such a fashion, because it’s totally harsh and unfair and I’d hate for them to have to go through that.
Anyway, if that makes you feel all icky, go read Posnanski’s take on such Hall of Fame votes in historical context. I think he hits it on the head when he talks about how these guys see themselves as something more than mere assessors of baseball performance and something more like gatekeepers with an inflated sense of their place in the process.
But hey, at least they’re keeping us and history all safe from, well, something.
*Hopefully this point is not considered controversial. Because it’s nothing more than simple logic. By definition, people either have actual information establishing that Bagwell did steroids or they do not. If they do have it, they have not published it. And given how newsworthy such information would be, the only plausible reason they haven’t published it is because their newspapers would not allow them to do it because the information is thin and/or uncorroborated. So: such a stance as the one shown by these gentleman is necessarily either one taken with no information or with information that falls short of the standards to which they usually adhere in their daily work.
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.