. . . I feel like Plaschke’s response to it all is a bit overwrought:
A white Mercedes allegedly traveling 110 mph has flattened the Dodgers with the organization’s most frightening, frustrating truth.
The richest team in baseball cannot buy the safety, security or even the simple undivided attention of its most popular player.
Yasiel Puig continues to careen toward calamity and there doesn’t seem to be anything anybody can, or will, do about it.
I don’t disagree with the notion that Puig needs to slow it the heck down and if I’m running the Dodgers I have a heart-to-heart with him about making smart decisions. But the Dodgers don’t sound “flattened” based on their response. Their response seems to be pretty level-headed: In essence “a young kid is driving too fast and he needs to cut it out. We can’t babysit him 24/7. He needs to make some grownup decisions.” Sounds about right to me.
Plashcke paints this as far more dire than it is, however, and it’s hard not to see this as his continuing hyper-criticism of and alarmism regarding Puig. If it’s not, tell me what this paragraph is doing in there:
Puig batted just .214 in the season’s final month. Then, after playing well in the National League division series win against the Atlanta Braves, he collapsed in the NL Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, batting just .227 with one extra base hit while committing three fielding blunders in the Cardinals’ clinching Game 6 victory.
It has no logical flow to the argument that he’s making at the time. Indeed, the argument — all about Puig’s maturity — flows far better without that in there. But he has to get a shot in. He has to imply, however subtly, that Puig’s off-the-field demeanor is dictating his on-the-field performance. He has to try to find a way to add heft to his criticisms of Puig, lest they appear to be mere hand-wringing.
Again: Puig is being an idiot at the wheel and he needs to not do crap that risks his health and life. But a lead foot is not worthy of a full-blown character indictment and is certainly not something that feeds into his baseball ability the way Plaschke would have you think it is.
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.