The claws are out between Marlins owner Jeff Loria and Braves manager — and former Marlins manager — Fredi Gonzalez:
Jeffrey Loria is outraged with Fredi Gonzalez’s published comments in which the former Marlins manager said that no manager ever seems to please the owner. Gonzalez, who manages the Atlanta Braves, was quoted in Sunday’s Miami Herald as saying: “There’s not a manager dead or alive that Jeffrey thinks is good enough. Not Connie Mack, not anyone.”
Loria said that if Gonzalez made those comments, “I’m a little surprised because it’s classless — and you can quote me — especially because he was with us for five years and he was a colossal failure. Not nice. Not nice.”
I’m not the biggest Fredi Gonzalez fan in the world, but it’s worth noting that Fredi has somehow been successful since leaving Miami. Even last year’s epic collapse constituted a better overall season than the Marlins have experienced in close to a decade.
And Gonzalez’s basic point — that Loria can’t be happy with anyone — will be borne out if he fires Ozzie Guillen after one season. Because say what you want about Guillen, but he’s not the biggest problem with that team and that organization. The White Sox showed that you can win that guy, just like the Braves have shown they can win with Gonzalez. And the Yankees with Joe Girardi. And on and on.
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.