The Cards and Giants are beating each others’ brains out up until less than 48 hours before the World Series starts. Heck, if it rains tonight, maybe to within 24 hours. As Buster Olney says, this has to be good for the Tigers, right?
For the Detroit Tigers, the drawn-out series between the Cards and Giants is all good, because the rotations of the NL teams will be left in a jumble, the bullpens taxed. The Tigers are lined up and all ready to go with Justin Verlander, et al.
Except the last time they were in the World Series it was set up very much like this. Detroit dispatched the Athletics in the 2006 ALCS in four games, with the last one being on October 14. The Mets and Cardinals, in contrast, played a seven game series that ended on October 19. The World Series began two days later, with the Tigers having had a full week to rest bodies and set up the rotation, with the Cardinals in a putative “jumble.” And the Cardinals ended up winning that series in five games.
It’s quite possible that, yes, whoever comes out of the NLCS will be jumbled. And I imagine that after 2006 the Tigers learned some lessons about how to spend a long layoff (thus the scrimmages they’ve been playing against minor leaguers and such). But if history shows us anything it’s that we can’t really predict how layoffs and frantic run-ups to a series will play out.
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.