You figure that Robinson Cano signing with another team would stop the talk from New York about him not hustling down the line on routine ground balls, but nope, it’s still a hot topic. John Harper of the Daily News has an interview with Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long about it today.
What’s striking to me is how much Long says to praise Cano and his work ethic. He talks about how he got in better shape, got a better attitude, put in hard work and did all sorts of things like extra cage work and training and stuff to make himself a better player with the Yankees. Yet the one thing that probably matters least in his game — appearing to run hard, or not, to first base on routine 4-3 putouts — is the thing Long, Harper and a host of other people in the Yankees Universe like to dwell on. Harper goes so far as to say it “taints” Cano’s brilliance.
I can see how it may be aesthetically annoying, but I really don’t get why people care so much. There is no hustle more false than the hustle to first on routine outs. At least when it comes from a big slugging superstar like Cano. Maybe once every 100 times not hustling down the line may cost him a base, but it’s probably also worth noting that Cano is the one dude in the Yankees lineup who hasn’t missed significant time to injury over the past several seasons.
I’ll take that mild annoyance over a pulled hamstring on a play where he was going to be out by 20 feet every time.
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.