Marlins Park boasts some of the largest outfield dimensions of any stadium in the majors, so it’s no surprise that some of the team’s hitters would like to see the fences moved in. Count Logan Morrison among them.
Morrison has blasted five home runs in 158 plate appearances on the road this season compared to just one home run in 155 plate appearances at home. While he doesn’t blame his power outage solely on Marlins Park, he tells Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald that it has played a part.
“It’s definitely a factor,” Morrison said of the Marlins’ huge ballpark. “And that translates into the average not being there, too. You drive balls to the wall and they get caught. Not only is it not a homer, it’s not a hit.”
Morrison is not alone among Marlins players who would like to see the team bring the fences in.
“I think that would make it fair,” Morrison said. “But it’s not my decision.”
Marlins Park might stifle power production, but ESPN’s Park Factors notes that was 16th in the majors in run production last year and is tied for ninth this year. In other words, while balls might not be going over the fence, the vast dimensions allow for plenty of hits to fall. Morrison is an example of this, as he has a .257 batting average at home compared to a .228 batting average on the road. Still, if the fences are having an impact on the morale of the offense — it’s bad enough being a Marlin — it could be worth it to make the change. Besides, doesn’t Jeffrey Loria want the home run sculpture to do its magic?
It’s worth mentioning that Giancarlo Stanton might be wondering what the fuss is all about, as he produced significantly better at Marlins Park than anywhere else this season. Of course, he could probably play his home games in the Grand Canyon and still be successful.
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.