Reggie Jackson

Reggie Jackson doesn’t think Puckett, Carter, Sutton, Niekro or Rice should be in the Hall of Fame

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Reggie Jackson spoke with Phil Taylor of Sports Illustrated recently. And, in addition to voicing a bunch of strong opinions about players who have used PEDs — he thinks if a PED guy got elected to the Hall of Fame, “no members would attend” the induction — he talks about some of his contemporaries’ Hall of Fame bonafides:

I didn’t see Kirby Puckett as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Gary Carter as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Don Sutton as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Phil Niekro as a Hall of Famer. As much as I like Jim Rice, I’m not so sure he’s a Hall of Famer.”

On whether Bert Blyleven should have been elected into the Hall of Fame: “No. No, no, no, no. Blyleven wasn’t even the dominant pitcher of his era, it was Jack Morris.”

Jack Morris dominated media coverage for starting pitchers of his era, sure, but he was far from the dominant pitcher of his era. Of course it’s Reggie Jackson we’re talking about here, so perhaps that’s the criteria he considers most important.

As  for the other guys: he’s crazy pants on Carter and Puckett, each of whom belong under most people’s conception of the Hall of Fame. As for Sutton, Niekro, Rice and Blyleven: hey, if you’re a small hall guy, I totally understand keeping them out. And on a couple of them, even if you’re a big hall guy you can point to several others that may be more deserving.

But if you’re a small hall guy — and Jackson seems to be saying that by virtue of his appeal to “dominance” and his obvious high standards — you have no business touting Jack Morris’ greatness at all. I mean, I think Jim Rice’s Hall of Fame case was totally weak, and Jim Rice’s Hall of Fame case screens Jack Morris’ Hall of Fame case’s phone calls.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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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.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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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.