While Tino Martinez was a fine major leaguer for most of his 16 years, he’s also now easily the weakest performer to receive a plaque in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park. The former first baseman was given his day today as the first of four additions to the Park this year, joining Joe Torre, Goose Gossage and Paul O’Neill. Gossage’s day will come tomorrow. Bernie Williams is expected to be added next year.
Tino’s plaque focuses more on two singular events than his career numbers in seven seasons with the Yankees and leaves out the other nine years altogether, though that’s typical for the Yankee plaques.
Martinez drove in 100 runs in five of his seven seasons with the Yankees, but it was the late 90’s… everyone drove in 100 runs. In 1999, he was one of four Yankees to do so. His only season in the top 10 in the AL in OPS was 1997, when he finished second in the MVP balloting on the strength of his 141 RBI on a first-place team. But he never finished in the top 10 in WAR, he never won a Gold Glove (or deserved to) for all of his “superlative defense” and he was just a lifetime .233/.321/.351 hitter in 99 postseason games.
So, yeah, fine player. And the Yankees are free to do what they want with their park. It just doesn’t seem quite right that Martinez is in and Willie Randolph and Graig Nettles aren’t, not to mention some of the deceased Hall of Famers also not included.
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.