Andy Martino of the Daily News writes today about the possibility of a pitch clock — an actual clock counting down the seconds — being added to the game in order to speed things up. There is some support for it, he says, and runs down the pros and cons. He notes that Tom Werner — who spoke out on this issue the other day — prefers a pitch clock to other options.
One of those options, as we noted the other day, is simply enforcing Rule 8.04 and Rule 6.02, requiring the pitcher to throw the ball in a timely manner and requiring the batter to stay in the batters box between pitches. Martino talks to Yankees pitcher Brandon McCarthy about that, and McCarthy notes that the 12 seconds allowed in Rule 6.02 may be extreme. He may very well have a point there, and perhaps changing that rule to, like, 18 seconds and enforcing it is more realistic than 12, but at least it’s a rule with a pedigree and a place to start that does not require radical change.
But as we’ve noted a lot recently, baseball seems to be taken with the idea of adding unnecessary rules and unnecessary components of new rules these days. They felt the All-Star Game wasn’t holding people’s interest? They made it decide home field advantage in the World Series. They felt they had a problem with small market teams not being able to compete? Rather than give them money or draft picks, they put them in a lottery. They felt they had a problem with calls being missed? Rather than simply solve that with a straightforward replay system that would allow umpires to correct their own mistakes, they added an unnecessary manager’s challenge. They felt they had a problem with catchers getting hurt on plate collisions? They made a new rule rather than enforcing existing rules about when catchers can and cannot block the plate. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but baseball has been a big fan of 90 degree turns and long arcs these days.
Which is a shorter way of saying: get used to the idea a little box with a ticking down clock in the corner of your baseball broadcast, because that sort of thing seems way more in character with baseball’s problem-solving approach lately than, you know, actually solving the problem in the most efficient and least-intrusive possible manner.
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.