If I had to bet I’d say that two players make the Hall of Fame this year: Jack Morris and Craig Biggio. But it would not shock me at all if no one made it in.
One big reason is the anti-PED people with ballots. Another big reason, and one that hurts those who are not suspected of PED use more than the PED users, is the ten-vote limit the BBWAA places on the ballot. ESPN’s Jim Caple notes just how vexing a problem this is:
Since the Hall of Fame began, the maximum number of players for whom a writer can vote has been 10. The number of teams has almost doubled in that span, which means the number of potential Hall of Fame candidates has also nearly doubled. Actually, when you consider that African-American, Latino and other minority players weren’t allowed to play when the Hall of Fame opened, Hall-caliber candidates have likely more than doubled.
And yet, the maximum remains 10. For no apparent reason. Is it any wonder so many writers have trouble with the game’s advanced metrics?
The fallout of the 10-player maximum is that I no longer can simply vote for the players I think belong in the Hall of Fame. I now have to vote with an agenda, just like a politician.
Caple’s potential ballot is massive, and includes a lot of people you or I may not vote for. But the problem is that he does not get the option to make such choices, and as a result has to leave off people who he thinks are genuinely worthy.
Makes very little sense to begin with, and now that we have potential first-ballot guys like Clemens and Bonds hanging around for years, clogging up the ballot, it makes the problem even worse.
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.