Yesterday, Jeff Wilpon gave Mets players t-shirts with a “U” on them — the Underdog symbol, reflecting that no one really thinks the Mets are gonna do anything this year.
T-shirts with slogans on them don’t really do anything — I still haven’t found the beef and I am not, in fact, a pepper, despite what shirts I owned in the 1980s suggested — but they’re harmless enough. And for crying you loud, the atmosphere around the Mets has been so dreary for so long, at least someone was trying to have a little fun. All the better that the guy trying to have the fun — Wilpon — is the boss.
But David Wright will not have any of these shenanigans:
“I don’t really like using the whole underdog thing. I don’t really like playing that card. I think it’s just a way to remind everybody in here that the outside expectations aren’t the expectations that we have for ourselves.”
Thanks for your input, Buzz Killington. I look forward to your “We believe we should win the division but, at the end of the day, we will be satisfied with whatever happens as long as we put forth a solid effort and play with integrity and dignity” t-shirts. Those things should sell like hotcakes.
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.