This is several days old but I had missed it until I saw Jeff Passan mention it in his latest column. The original report is from Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. It shockingly involves Jeff Loria being a petty jerk.
Recall that Tino Martinez resigned as the Marlins hitting coach last month following accusations by some players that he was verbally and physically abusive. Spencer reports that this sat poorly with Loria, who personally hired Martinez. Flash forward to last week when Placido Polanco went to the disabled list. The Marlins front office and coaching staff were unanimous in wanting the team to call up infielder Chris Valaika — who had been hitting like crazy in New Orleans — to to replace Polanco.
Except Valaika was one of the players who had complained about Martinez’s behavior. So, out of spite, Loria personally overruled his baseball people and ordered Gil Velazquez to be called up.
Passan’s column notes that it’s possible that Loria may force out team presidents David Samson and Larry Beinfest. Who, when they’re not being forced to be Loria’s lapdogs are actually pretty good at assembling baseball talent. His team, his prerogative.
But why anyone would choose to work for that guy and how anyone can root for that team while he still owns it is an utter mystery to me.
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.