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Dan Shaughnessy plays the Bobby V card in describing the 2014 Red Sox

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Look, I know Dan Shaughnessy sucks. I know not reading him is a life hack with absolutely zero downside and oodles of benefits. I know that taking a single thing he says with even a modicum of seriousness is about as smart as exfoliating your T-zone with a belt sander. It’s painful and there’s utterly no point.

But dudes, on some level you have to appreciate artistry, even if you don’t like the art. Would I buy the product of a performance artist who hurls her own feces at cork board while singing GG Allin songs? Never. But I am capable of acknowledging the commitment, no matter what it leads to. The phrase “go hard or go home” means something to me, man.

For Shaughnessy it’s “troll hard or go home,” and for all of his years of work and all of what I presume to be gobs of money he has, Danny Boy has never rested on his trolling laurels. Sure, he’ll phone in 80% of his work, but when it comes to the serious business of explaining why and how much Boston teams suck, even when they really don’t — heck, especially when they don’t — the man still has the instincts and drive of a master in his prime.

Take today’s column which, at the outset, notes that the Red Sox aren’t doing too well. Hey, they’re not, so that’s fair, and that’s where most Boston columnists have decided to stop these past couple of days. Not Shaughnessy. He’s content to take a mediocre season start — they’re five games behind the surprising Blue Jays — and use it as a springboard for claiming that it’s not just a poor start, it’s a poor era that is not as good as everyone likes to say it is:

In the early part of the 21st century, the Sox truly were a powerhouse, annually winning 95 games and making it to the World Series or the seventh game of the ALCS four times in six years. Those days are over.

The Sox won a World Series last year, but 2013 looks more and more like an outlier season. If the Sox fail to make the playoffs this year, it will mark the fourth time in five seasons they have failed to make the postseason. It would mark the fifth time in six years that they have failed to win a postseason game.

That’s the reigning World Series champs he’s talking about. Which, yes, had a crappy season in 2012 and a couple of bad weeks at the end of 2011, but which still have had one losing record, three-sub 90-win seasons and three World Series titles in the past 12 years. And just when you think he’s made the most manipulative sounding point of analysis possible, he whips this out:

This is bad. The 20-26 Sox are looking like worst-to-first-to-worst candidates. Only two American League teams have more losses than Boston. The Bobby Valentine Sox were 23-23 after 46 games in 2012.

Bam!

I don’t know how the Sox will do this year. I still think it’s a really talented team that has had a rough early go of it and which has as good if not a better chance than winning the AL East than any of the other guys. But sure, they could never get back on track and finish third or whatever. It’s baseball and stuff like that happens all the time.

But no matter what happens, I’m pretty sure that only someone as uniquely gifted as Dan Shaughnessy can characterize the Sox’ start in such a way as to cast doubt and negativity on the franchise and its recent history as a whole. And to do it, as most masters do, in such a way as to make the work appear effortless.

Bravo, Dan. Bravo.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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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.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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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.