The Dodgers lost again last night and are eight games out of first place. Manager Don Mattingly is disgusted. Here’s what he had to say after last night’s loss:*
“Basically, we’re sh**ty,” Mattingly said. “We’re just not that good . . . Home, away, whatever. I don’t know what that has to do with it . . . I really think you should talk to [the players]. I’m tired of answering the questions, honestly.”
Last season the Dodgers hit a low point when they were nine and a half games out. Mattingly was almost fired then, partially because when you have a $200 million roster you can’t really replace the players, partially because he seemed to be in a personal funk, disgusted with what was going on. We saw his displeasure on display at the end of last season too, when his friend and bench coach Trey Hillman was fired and Mattingly had issues with Ned Colletti.
I’m not advocating for the dismissal of Mattingly — I think he deserves a lot of credit for last season’s turn around — but a manager’s job is usually to be the one who calms everyone down when they get frustrated. Not to be the public face of the team’s frustration.
*The Times story censored that quote more, but multiple Twitter sources noted the particular expletive used by Mattingly. Which, laughs aside, I think is kind of important. Those of us who are passionate users of profanity know the subtle differences between various curse words in various contexts. Or at least I hope we do.
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.