The Cubs have been in negotiations with the rooftop owners across Sheffield Avenue for some time. The subject: the Cubs’ massive Wrigley Field renovation in general and the team’s plan to put up a big billboard in right field in particular. A billboard which will — according to the rooftop owners — alter and/or block the view from the rooftops across Sheffield.
Those negotiations have fallen through, however, the rooftop owners have sued the Cubs and it seems like everyone is going to head to court. It’s possible that the rooftop owners could seek injunctive relief to stop the project and, in turn, hold up the Wrigley renovation itself. Into that mix are allegations going back and forth about disparaging remarks about the rooftops owners made by Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts and other, older comments from Cubs’ previous owners. All of that background can be read at the Sun-Times.
Of course, the reason the Cubs can’t just put up a sign and tell the rooftop people to go pound sand is that they signed agreements with these folks several years ago in which the team agreed to take 17 percent of the revenues the building owners receive by virtue of letting folks peek in on Cubs games from across the street. In exchange, the Cubs made certain promises to the rooftop owners too, including not doing things like putting up big things to obstruct the view.
Why the Cubs ever agreed to that is a darn good question. I suppose it was a good short term decision — hey, we need a piece of that action! — but it was a decision that limited the team’s rights, and that’s what they’re up against now.
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.