Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets

Terry Collins: “I don’t answer to fans”

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He doesn’t. But it’s one of those things that you tend to do better never actually saying. But Collins said it anyway yesterday, in response to the flap in which Mets players did not appear to have Jordany Valdespin’s back after he got plunked by a Pirates pitcher on Saturday night:

“I don’t answer to fans,” Collins said before the Mets’ 10-4 loss in St. Louis. “They don’t play this game. They have no idea what goes on. They have no idea what goes on in there. They have absolutely no idea what it means to be a professional teammate at this level.”

I don’t disagree with anything Collins said there. Nor do I disagree with the Mets not congratulating Valdespin on his homer Friday or retaliating for him being plunked afterward. He was showboating when the team was down by a substantial margin. And while I don’t much care for pitchers hitting guys on purpose, baseball players all knew that Valdespin was out of line per their unwritten rules and the Mets were acting in accord with those rules. Mike Francesa doesn’t like it? Cry me a freakin’ river. The guy is a clown.

At the same time, however, Collins has been around long enough, one would hope, to know that the response to this sort of flap should be to diffuse it with either wit or boring cliches. Not to be prickly about it and never, ever, to go after fans like that. By doing so he gave this little non-story new life — you can bet that Francesa and the yakkers will be all over it today — and has helped create a distraction.

Which maybe shouldn’t be all that surprising. Collins has been a better, more mature manager with the Mets than he was back in the day with Houston and Anaheim. But this prickly little thing is reminiscent of his mid-to-late 90s oeuvre.

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.