I can’t imagine why the Mariners would want Lou Piniella to come back and manage. I mean, sure, nice associations with the past and a great personality and all of that, but when you’re trying to build with young players and your competitive horizon is still measured in terms of multiple years, I don’t feel like hiring a 70 year-old manager who has been out of the game for a few years makes a ton of sense.
But the Mariners do a lot of things I don’t quite understand, and this was just the latest. From Rosenthal:
The Seattle Mariners recently contacted Piniella about the possibility, asking him to come out of retirement to manage their team again. One source with knowledge of the discussions described the Mariners’ pursuit of Piniella as “a full-court press.”
Piniella, however, declined the Mariners’ overtures.
Can’t blame him. He’s got a nice part-time job with YES Network, can fish or do crossword puzzles or scrimshaw or build ships in bottles or whatever the heck else he wants to do with very little pressure but while still having at least some contact with the game. The guy spent 23 years blowing his top as a manager. He’s entitled to a little relaxation now and sounds like he wants it.
But back to Seattle: if the idea is to just bring back a face the fans would like to see, I have to question their plan overall because “manager-as-p.r.-initiative” is a pretty dumb idea. If the idea, however, is to hire an experienced manager with a notable media profile and some color and fire, why not go with someone who is less obviously retired? I’ve joked about it before, but heck, go get Ozzie Guillen. He’d fill most of the Lou Piniella qualifications. And it’d be a lot of fun too.
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.