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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here are your minor-league highlights from the week of August 21-27, 2017:

Barash

Barash

Jewish Baseball News Hitter of the Week: Michael Barash

Michael Barash (Angels/High-A) had a career game on August 24, going 5-for-6 with a home run, 4 RBIs and a walk. For the week, he hit .500 (7-for-14) with 2 HRs, 5 RBIs and an impressive 6 walks. Barash is hitting .236 this season, with 10 HRs, 19 doubles and a .326 on-base percentage.

Bleich

Bleich

Jewish Baseball News Pitcher of the Week: Jeremy Bleich*

  • P Jeremy Bleich* (Dodgers/AAA) pitched 3 scoreless innings across 2 appearances, yielding just one hit and no walks while striking out 4 and earning his third save. Since being promoted to Triple-A on June 16, Bleich is 5-1 with a 2.66 ERA, has 3 saves in 8 chances, and is yielding an average of just 0.97 walks/hits per inning, #4 among all Pacific Coast League pitchers with 40+ innings.

Awards

  • The Seattle Times named CF Braden Bishop (Mariners/AA) the Seattle Mariners’ minor-league player of the year. Bishop began the season in High-A, where he hit .296 with 2 HRs, 3 triples, 25 doubles, 32 RBIs, 16 stolen bases and a .385 on-base percentage. He has performed even better since his July 22 promotion to Double-A, hitting .336 with a home run, triple, 9 doubles, 11 RBIs, 6 stolen bases and a .417 on-base percentage.

Other highlights

  • C Garrett Stubbs (Astros/AAA) hit .294 (5-for-17) with a double, 4 RBIs, 4 walks and a stolen base.
  • LF Mike Meyers (Red Sox/High-A) hit .389 (7-for-18) with a double, triple, home run, RBI, walk and 2 stolen bases.
  • C Andy Yerzy (Diamondbacks/rookie) saw his hitting streak end at 22 games on August 24, but he went on a 3-game tear after that, during which he hit .571 (8-for-14) with 2 HRs, a double and 3 RBIs to lift his average above .300 for the first time this season.
  • P Max Fried (Braves/AAA) was dominant in his first-ever Triple-A appearance. He tossed 4 scoreless innings in an August 24 start, yielding one hit and 2 walks while striking out 6.
  • P R.C. Orlan* (Nationals/High-A) tossed 3 scoreless innings across 2 games, yielding just one hit and no walks while striking out 2 and earning his fifth save.
  • P Kenny Koplove (Marlins/A-short-season) pitched 2.2 scoreless innings across 2 games, yielding a hit and a walk while striking out 5.
  • P Ike Davis* (Dodgers/rookie), who is refashioning himself as a pitcher, threw 2 scoreless innings across 2 appearances, yielding a hit and a walk.
  • P Keith Weisenberg (Braves/rookie), a 2017 draftee, pitched 2 scoreless innings on August 23, yielding one hit and no walks while striking out 2. For the season, he is 3-2 with a 2.59 ERA and one save, and he is holding opposing batters to just 1.11 walks/hits per inning.
  • P Spencer Kulman (Padres/rookie), a 2017 draftee, pitched 2 scoreless innings across 2 games, yielding 2 walks and no hits while striking out one. For the season, he is 1-0 with a 1.25 ERA, 3 saves in 4 chances, and is limiting opposing batters to just 1.06 walks/hits per inning.

Transactions

  • P Ryan Sherriff* (Cardinals) was called-up from Triple-A on August 23 and made his MLB debut on August 25.
  • P Craig Breslow* (Indians) was called-up from Triple-A on August 26.
  • P Max Fried (Braves/AAA) was sent down to Triple-A on August 23. The Braves had promoted him from Double-A straight to the Majors on August 5.
  • 1B Cody Decker* (Mets/AAA) was placed on the disabled list August 26, retroactive to August 24.
  • P Kenny Rosenberg (Rays/A) was played on the temporary inactive list on August 23.
  • SS Elliott Barzilli (Marlins/rookie) was released on August 24. The 2017 draftee was hitting .254 with 2 HRs and 8 RBIs in 63 at-bats.

Free agents

Disabled list

Note to readers: Minor-League Monday does not include stats for all current Jewish minor-leaguers. Click here for a complete list of players, and then click on a player’s name to be taken to his stat page.

Members of Team Israel’s 2017 squad are marked with an asterisk.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here are your minor-league highlights from the week of July 31-August 6, 2017:

Gailen

Gailen

Jewish Baseball News Hitter of the Week: Blake Gailen*

LF Blake Gailen* (Dodgers/AA) had a career game on August 5, going 3-for-5 with 2 HRs and 6 RBIs. It was his second two-homer game since being signing with Los Angeles out of the independent Atlantic League on June 29. For the week, Gailen hit .333 (6-for-18) with 3 HRs, 8 RBIs and a walk.

Rosenberg

Rosenberg

Jewish Baseball News Pitcher of the Week: Kenny Rosenberg

  • Kenny Rosenberg (Rays/A) won his third straight decision in dominant fashion on August 3, pitching 7 shutout innings on 3 hits, one walk and 9 strikeouts. His 107 strikeouts in just 86 innings amount to 11.2 per 9 innings, tops among all Midwest League pitchers with 80-plus innings.

Other highlights

  • CF Braden Bishop (Mariners/AA) hit .333 (9-for-27) with a double, 4 RBIs, a walk and a stolen base. He began the week with a bang, going 8-for-14 in the first three games before going 1-for-13 in the last four.
  • 1B Rowdy Tellez (Blue Jays/AAA) hit safely in all 6 games he played last week, hitting .381 (8-for-21) with 2 doubles, 2 walks and 4 RBIs.
  • SS Elliott Barzilli (Marlins/rookie), a 2017 draftee, hit .375 (3-for-8) with a home run, double and 3 RBIs.
  • OF Justin Cohen (Marlins/rookie), a former catcher now playing in the outfield, hit .333 (5-for-15) with a double, triple and 3 walks.
  • C Mitchell Kranson (Twins/High-A) hit .400 (6-for-15) with a HR, 5 RBIs and a walk.
  • C Ryan Gold (Blue Jays/rookie) hit .417 (5-for-12) with 2 doubles and 2 RBIs.
  • C Jason Goldstein (Athletics/A) hit .444 (4-for-9) with 2 doubles and 3 walks.
  • 2B Adam Walton (Diamondbacks/A) hit .407 (11-for-27) with a homer, 2 doubles, 2 RBIs and a stolen base.
  • 2B Zane Gurwitz (Angels/rookie), a 2017 draftee, hit a torrid .533 (8-for-15) after returning from Single-A to L.A.’s rookie-league team. He smacked 3 doubles and stole 2 bases.
  • P Ike Davis* (Dodgers/rookie) — yes, you read that right: pitcher Ike Davis — struck out the side in an inning of relief with L.A.’s rookie-league team. As this article explains, the Dodgers hope to repurpose the power-hitting first baseman as a pitcher.
  • P Ryan Sherriff* (Cardinals/AAA) pitched 2.1 perfect innings of relief on August 4, yielding no runs, hits or walks while striking out 5. So far this season he is 5-1 with a 3.49 ERA, 5 saves in 6 chances, and is yielding just 1.06 walks/hits per innings, 10th-best in the Pacific Coast league among pitchers with at least 40 innings.
  • P Jeremy Bleich* (Dodgers/AAA) pitched 4 shutout innings over 3 appearances and earned his first save of the season. Since being promoted to Triple-A, he is 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA, 34 strikeouts in 38.1 innings, and just 4 walks.
  • P Robert Stock (Reds/AA), who played catcher during his first three minor-league seasons, remains agile with a bat. His pinch-hit single on August 6 left him with a .750 season average (3-for-4). In his last 10 appearances on the mound, Stock is 3-1 with a 1.71 ERA.
  • P Matthew Gorst (Red Sox/High-A) pitched 3 scoreless innings across 2 games, yielding 3 hits and no walks while striking out one.
  • P Kenny Koplove (Marlins/A-short-season) pitched 2 near-perfect innings on August 6, yielding no hits or earned runs and one walk while striking out 3.
  • P Sam Delaplane (Mariners/rookie), a 2017 draftee, pitched 4 shutout innings of relief on August 2, yielding 4 hits and no walks while striking out 5. The Eastern Michigan University alum has 27 strikeouts in 16.2 innings this season but just 4 walks.
  • P Spencer Kulman (Padres/rookie), a 2017 draftee, pitched 2.1 innings of scoreless relief on August 1, yielding 2 hits and no walks while striking out 4.

Transactions

  • P Max Fried (Braves) was promoted from Double-A to Atlanta’s major-league roster on August 5.
  • C Nick Rickles* (Phillies/AAA) was promoted to Triple-A on August 4. At Double-A, he hit .274 with 4 home runs and 12 RBIs in 95 at-bats.
  • C Ryan Lavarnway* (Athletics/AAA) was designated for assignment by Oakland on August 4.
  • C Garrett Stubbs (Astros/AAA) was promoted from Double-A to Triple-A on August 5.
  • P Craig Breslow, who was released by the Minnesota Twins on July 29, signed a minor-league contract with the Cleveland Indians on August 4.
  • 1B Ike Davis* (Dodgers/rookie) came off the disabled list on July 31 and was assigned to the franchise’s rookie-league team on August 3.
  • C Tim Remes (Tigers/AA) was promoted from High-A to Double-A on August 1.
  • P Marc Huberman (Cubs/High-A) was promoted from Single-A to High-A on August 5.
  • P Matthew Gorst (Red Sox/Salem) was promoted from Single-A to High-A on August 3.
  • Adam Sonabend (Giants/A) came off the disabled list on August 5.
  • 2B Zane Gurwitz (Angels/rookie) was reassigned from Single-A to L.A.’s rookie-league club on August 1.

Free agents

  • Players believed to be seeking employment include minor leaguer Corey Baker* and former major leaguer Sam Fuld*.

Disabled list

Note to readers: Minor-League Monday does not include stats for all current Jewish minor-leaguers. Click here for a complete list of players, and then click on a player’s name to be taken to his stat page.

Members of Team Israel’s 2017 squad are marked with an asterisk.

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By Scott Barancik, Editor

Here are your minor-league highlights from the week of May 29 – June 4, 2017. Members of Team Israel’s 2017 squad are marked with an asterisk:

rickles phils mug

Rickles

Jewish Baseball News Hitter of the Week: Nick Rickles*

Nick Rickles* (Phillies/AA) hit .385 (5-for-13) in his first full week with the Philadelphia Phillies franchise, highlighted by a two-HR, 5 RBI performance on June 3. It was the second two-HR game in his 7-year minor-league career and tied his career high for most RBIs in a game.

weiss tortugas mug

Weiss

Jewish Baseball News Pitcher of the Week: Zack Weiss

  • Zack Weiss (Reds/High-A), who last played in 2015, finally escaped the disabled list and was nearly perfect in his two relief appearances last week, yielding one hit and no walks over a combined 2.1 innings while striking out 4.

Other highlights

  • P Brad Goldberg* (White Sox) was promoted from Triple-A on June 3 and made his Major League debut the same day. In the minors this season, Goldberg is 2-1 with a 1.99 ERA and 4 saves in 5 chances.
  • CF Braden Bishop (Mariners/High-A) hit .320 (8-for-25) with a double, 4 RBIs, 3 walks and 2 stolen bases. He leads the Modesto Nuts in batting average (.320), on-base percentage (.419), OPS (.844) and stolen bases (11 in 12 tries). Bishop has just one error in the outfield, giving him a .992 fielding percentage.
  • 1B Cody Decker* (Mets/AA) hit .368 (7-for-19) with 4 doubles and 4 RBIs. He leads the Binghamton Rumble Ponies with a .528 slugging percentage and an OPS of .902.
  • LF Mike Meyers* (Red Sox/High-A) hit .348 (8-for-23) with a double and 4 RBIs.
  • LF Jake Thomas (Blue Jays/AA) hit an RBI double in his Double-A debut on June 4.
  • P Corey Baker* (Cardinals/AA) held opponents scoreless in two relief outings, yielding 3 hits and no walks over a combined 3.2 innings while striking out 2.
  • P Ryan Sherriff (Cardinals/AAA) ran his scoreless relief streak to 10 innings over 8 appearances. He is 2-0 with a 3.65 ERA, 3 saves in 3 chances, and only 1.09 hits/walks per inning.

Transactions

  • P Brad Goldberg* was called up by the Chicago White Sox on June 3 and made his MLB debut the same day.
  • LF Jake Thomas (Blue Jays/AA) was promoted from Single-A on June 3, skipping High-A entirely.
  • P Zack Weiss (Reds/High-A) came off the disabled list and made his season debut on May 31.
  • P Jason Richman (Rangers/High-A) was released on May 31.
  • P Kenny Rosenberg (Rays/A), who is 2-3 with a 3.95 ERA and a save so far this season, was assigned to extended spring training.
  • P Henry Hirsch, a former minor-leaguer with the Pirates, signed with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League.
  • 3B Zach Goldstein, a Southern New Hampshire University third baseman who was named Northeast-10 Conference Baseball Player of the Year in 2017, signed with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League. Playing in his first professional game on June 2, Goldstein went 1-for-3 with an RBI double.
  • C Nick Rickles* (Phillies/AA), who was traded by the Nationals in late May, made his debut with Philadelphia’s Double-A team on May 31.

Free agents

Disabled list

Note to readers: Minor-League Monday does not include stats for all current Jewish minor-leaguers. Click here for a complete list of players, and then click on a player’s name to be taken to his stat page.

Get your Jewish baseball news via e-mail

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By Scott Barancik, editor

You had to rise at 4:30pm ET today to watch underdog Team Israel play Korea live in the 2017 World Baseball Classic opener, but seeing Israel triumph 2-1 in 10 innings was worth missing some sleep.

There were a few ulcer-inducing moments. Israel — which knocked out 8 hits and drew 10 walks — squandered multiple scoring opportunities, including leaving the bases loaded three times.

But the highlights were far more memorable.

Starting pitcher Jason Marquis, 38, got Israel off on the right foot with three scoreless innings, yielding 2 hits and a walk while fanning 3. He stayed below 50 pitches, which under WBC rules means he can pitch again in 2 days.

Sam Fuld was rock-solid in center field, including a diving catch in the 4th to rob Dae-Ho Lee of extra bases. He also contributed two sharply-hit singles while batting leadoff.

Second baseman Tyler Krieger drew a bases-loaded, full-count walk in the 2nd to put Israel up 1-0.

Ike Davis hit a pinch-hit double in the 8th inning, and his 9th-inning walk helped set up the winning run. After the base on balls, the not-fleet-of-foot Davis somehow hoofed it from first to third on catcher Ryan Lavarnway‘s soft liner to center. Mike Meyers came in as a pinch-runner and scored the go-ahead run two batters later.

Scotty Burcham, who starred for Israel in the September qualifiers, struck out three times but was stellar at shortstop and stroked two singles, including a two-out infield hit with a 1-2 count in the 10th that proved to be the game-winner.

Burcham, Krieger, and first baseman Nate Freiman completed two double plays together, including an inning-ending one with 2 men on base in the 6th inning.

With two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, the score tied 1-1, and a man on first, Lavarnway’s laser throw to second base erased a stolen-base attempt and sent the game into extra innings.

While Marquis opened the game with three scoreless innings, reliever Josh Zeid did the same at the end, yielding one hit and 2 walks while fanning 4, including a game-ending strikeout of slugger Dae-Ho Lee.

Israel plays Chinese Taipei tonight (Monday, March 6) at 10pm ET on the MLB Network cable station.

# # #

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By Scott Barancik, editor

The roster of players set to represent Israel in the World Baseball Classic in South Korea this March is taking shape.

Team Israel general manager Peter Kurz, whose squad of former Major League and current minor-league athletes guided Israel to a qualifying-round win in September, said Tuesday that 15 ballplayers had already committed to play in the main tournament in Seoul. The list includes:

  1. Ty Kelly, IF (New York Mets)
  2. Sam Fuld, OF (free agent)
  3. Jason Marquis, P (free agent)
  4. Ike Davis, 1B (free agent)
  5. Ryan Lavarnway, C (Oakland Athletics/minors)
  6. Cody Decker, IF (Milwaukee Brewers/minors)
  7. Josh Zeid, P (free agent)
  8. Nate Freiman, 1B (free agent)
  9. Tyler Krieger, IF (Cleveland Indians/minors)
  10. Nick Rickles, C (Washington Nationals/minors)
  11. Dean Kremer, P (Los Angeles Dodgers/minors)
  12. Corey Baker, P (St. Louis Cardinals/minors)
  13. Jeremy Bleich, P (free agent)
  14. Jake Kalish, P (Kansas City Royals/minors)
  15. Alex Katz, P (Chicago White Sox/minors)

Two key additions are Ty Kelly and Sam Fuld. During the qualifiers in September, Kelly was playing for the New York Mets, while Fuld, then with the Oakland Athletics, was on the disabled list. Also new are minor leaguers Tyler Krieger and Jake Kalish.

Roster spots have been offered to at least seven additional minor leaguers who played for Team Israel in September : Zach Borenstein (Arizona Diamondbacks), Brad Goldberg (Chicago White Sox), Blake Gailen (independent), Scotty Burcham (Colorado Rockies), Tyler Herron (New York Mets), R C Orlan (Washington Nationals), and Joey Wagman (Oakland Athletics). None has provided a final answer yet.

Kurz told Jewish Baseball News that Danny Valencia of the Seattle Mariners and Craig Breslow, who is seeking to return to the Major Leagues, are possible future additions to Israel’s roster. Team Israel also is pursuing Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jason Kipnis of the Cleveland Indians.

Several prominent pros politely declined Team Israel’s invitations due to injury, family commitments, Major League aspirations, or other concerns. They include Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, Kevin Pillar and Scott Feldman of the Toronto Blue Jays, Richard Bleier of the New York Yankees, Jon Moscot of the Cincinnati Reds, and minor-league prospect and Ryan Sherriff of the St. Louis Cardinals. Sherriff played for Team Israel in the September qualifiers.

Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros and Ian Kinsler of the Detroit Tigers have committed to play for Team USA rather than Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic.

Under WBC rules, athletes can play on Team Israel as long as they are eligible for Israeli citizenship. That means having at least one Jewish grandparent or being married to someone Jewish. Nearly all the players on Israel’s roster personally identify as Jewish.

Earlier this month, eight players on the WBC roster visited Israel for a week to learn about the country, meet Israeli fans, and break ground on a new baseball stadium. MLB.com reporter Jonathan Mayo and Ironbound Films co-founder Jeremy Newberger plan to create a documentary about the trip, titled Heading Home.

# # #

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israel trip

Trailed by a documentary film crew, 10 Jewish ballplayers will be touring Israel from January 3-10, 2017

By Stuart M. Katz, correspondent

When centerfielder Sam Fuld and nine other Jewish athletes head to Israel on January 3 for what might be dubbed a ‘Baseball Birthright’ trip, they won’t be alone.

Wives, parents, sons, and a fiancée will be traveling with this minyan of Major League players and prospects, all of whom plan to represent Israel at the World Baseball Classic taking place in South Korea in March 2017. Team Israel qualified for the quadrennial contest by winning a qualifying tournament in September.

Also coming along for the ride? A film crew.

MLB.com reporter Jonathan Mayo (Twitter) and Ironbound Films co-founder Jeremy Newberger (Twitter) plan to create a documentary titled Heading Home about the one-week trip. For most of the players, it will be their first visit to the Jewish homeland.

“The idea for the film came first,” Mayo told Jewish Baseball News. “It wasn’t originally planned around the WBC, but after Team Israel qualified, it all came together.”

Mayo said he and Newberger, childhood friends from camp Young Judea, are getting a lot of help. Driving forces behind the project include the Jewish National Fund’s Project Baseball, JewishBaseballMuseum.com founder Jeff Aeder, and Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States.

Although plans for the film have not been finalized, Mayo expects the documentary will be screened at film festivals and air on MLB.com.

Fuld, who sat out the Oakland Athletics’ 2016 season with a rotator-cuff injury, will be joined on the trip by Ty Kelly of the New York Mets, Josh Zeid of the New York Mets’ organization, Ryan Lavarnway of the Athletics’ farm system, Jon Moscot of the Cincinnati Reds’ system, free agents Ike Davis and Cody Decker, former MLB outfielder Gabe Kapler (now director of player development for the Los Angeles Dodgers), St. Louis Cardinals prospect Corey Baker, and former MLB prospect, Jeremy Bleich, currently playing in the Dominican Winter League. Danny Valencia of the Seattle Mariners planned to come but had to drop out for family reasons.

A key motivation behind the trip and documentary is to build support for baseball within Israel, where soccer and basketball are king. The Israel Association of Baseball, hopes to recruit new players as well as raise funds to expand the country’s meager baseball infrastructure.

In addition to visiting Masada, the Dead Sea, an Israeli Air Force base, the Old City in Jerusalem and Independence Hall in Tel Aviv, the 10 ballplayers will conduct public practices and meet local dignitaries and ballplayers.

# # #

Stuart M. Katz is a die-hard Yankees fan. An attorney at Cohen and Wolf in Bridgeport, Conn., he chairs the firm’s Litigation Group, practicing mainly employment law, and represents employers as well as executives.

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By Sam Brief, Correspondent

In September’s qualifying round for the 2017 World Baseball Classic (WBC), Colorado Rockies prospect Scotty Burcham tallied a .455 batting average, the best on Team Israel and among the top 15 for all teams.

If not for Facebook, Burcham might never have swung a bat in Brooklyn.

Since anyone who is Jewish or has a Jewish parent, grandparent or spouse can play for Team Israel, volunteers like Alex Jacobs, a Houston Astros scout, were asked to help find such players. Jacobs often employed creative methods.

Jewish baseball fans didn't know that Colorado Rockies prospect <a href=

Scotty Burcham was Jewish until a volunteer scout for Team Israel 'discovered' him" width="300" height="290" srcset="http://www.jewishbaseballnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/burcham-120x116.jpg 120w, http://www.jewishbaseballnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/burcham-300x290.jpg 300w, http://www.jewishbaseballnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/burcham.jpg 381w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" /> Jewish baseball fans didn’t know Colorado Rockies prospect Scotty Burcham was Jewish until a volunteer scout for Team Israel ‘discovered’ him

“It’s Facebook stalking,” said Jacobs, who recently was named Team Israel’s director of player personnel. “I researched Scotty Burcham, and I found his Facebook. When I research these kids, I look for their parents, and I see if their parents have any Jewish in them. His mother was from New York, I believe. So I checked one box. Then, I looked at a picture of her and thought she looked kind of Jewish.

“So I called [Team Israel manager] Jerry Weinstein and said, ‘How about Scotty Burcham?’ And he said ‘Scotty Burcham? What do you have on him?’ And I’m like, ‘He plays shortstop. He’s Jewish. His mom looks like she’s Jewish.’ So Jerry called Scotty’s manager, and the manager asked Scotty if he was Jewish, and Scotty said, ‘Yeah, I am. Why do you ask?’ And the rest is history. He played really well for us.”

Burcham filled a gaping roster hole in the middle infield and helped Team Israel win the WBC qualifiers for the first time. Israel took down Great Britain and Brazil and then crushed Great Britain, 9-1, in the championship game, to advance to the March 2017 WBC games in Seoul, South Korea.

Houston Astros scout Alex Jacobs (left) and Los Angeles Dodgers scout Jonah Rosenthal (right) volunteered to help Team Israel build its roster for the World Baseball Classic

Houston Astros scout Alex Jacobs (left) and Los Angeles Dodgers scout Jonah Rosenthal (right) volunteered to help Team Israel build its roster for the World Baseball Classic

Israel’s 28-man roster in Brooklyn included former Major League Baseball players such as Ike Davis, Jason Marquis and Josh Satin, who skipped the final game to fly to California for the birth of his child. But Israel’s Law of Return made the roster-building process unlike any other, as the team would venture outside of the database of ballplayers already identified as Jewish.

The WBC’s rules state that a player can join a country’s team if he is eligible for citizenship within that country. Per Israel’s Law of Return, citizenship can be granted to anyone who has a Jewish parent, grandparent or spouse.

“We’re looking for ballplayers who can meet the Law of Return for the land of Israel and become Israeli citizens,” said Peter Kurz, the president of the Israeli Association of Baseball. “That’s a much wider interpretation than the actual Jewish law, which says that you have to have a Jewish mother in order to be considered as a Jew. We were able to make it a little broader.”

Kurz added that Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose father is Jewish, doesn’t qualify since he is devoutly Christian.

“We don’t want people who don’t feel Jewish heritage,” Kurz said.

Volunteers like Houston’s Jacobs, Jonah Rosenthal of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Guy Stevens of the Kansas City Royals, and baseball veterans Adam Gladstone and Ty Eriksen uncovered some previously-unknown gems, such as Burcham. But MLB’s rules require proof of eligibility. That was Kurz’s job. Jacobs, Rosenthal and the others gave Kurz the names, Kurz reached out to the players and proved a Jewish connection, and Weinstein managed the team.

“I would get the emails or numbers of their parents, and in almost every case, the parents were totally thrilled that their sons would compete for Team Israel,” Kurz said. “They would send in their son’s Bar Mitzvah certificate, or a birth certificate or a bris certificate. In some cases, I would need a birth certificate of the father. And in other cases, I would have to go to a grandparent.”

It wasn’t always so straightforward. For one player, a tombstone with a Jewish star had to serve as proof.

“The father went to take a picture of his mother’s tombstone, and sent it to me,” Kurz said. “That was the most extreme.”

In between identifying Jewish players and providing proof of their eligibility to MLB officials, Team Israel had to secure each player’s commitment to play. Some former MLBers, like Davis and Marquis, were tougher gets.

“I called both those guys twenty-something times before I got a return call,” Weinstein said. “Marquis had basically retired in the middle of 2015, when he was playing with the Reds. But he pitched on an alumni team in the [National Baseball Congress] World Series in Wichita, and scouts told me he pitched pretty well. So that sparked my interest in him. … He said, ‘I’m gonna check with my wife,’ then he said, ‘I’ll do it.’ He was a great teammate, and a great pitcher on the team.

“Ike Davis got his release from the Yankees, so he was hanging loose, and the timing was just right.”

Team Israel began with a list of known Jewish players maintained by Jewish Baseball News and Jewish Sports Review. Because certain positions were underrepresented, particularly in the middle infield, Weinstein asked his volunteer scouts to find unknowns.

“A lot of what we did was scouring through systems, like college rosters, to find more,” said Rosenthal, the Dodgers scout. “It was an all-hands-on-deck approach. Some of these guys we hadn’t seen. But we weren’t dealing with the biggest demographic out there. Sometimes it involved calling scouts. Sometimes it involved digging for information.” Roughly half a dozen previously-unknown players were discovered as a result of these efforts.

In March, Team Israel will head to Seoul to face off against Chinese Taipei, South Korea and the Netherlands in Pool A of the WBC, where a total of 16 teams will compete for the title of world’s best.

Unlike the qualifiers, which took place during MLB’s regular season, the WBC will take place during the offseason. Kurz and Weinstein hope to add several Major Leaguers to Israel’s roster, including Joc Pederson (who played for Israel in the 2013 WBC qualifiers), Scott Feldman, Alex Bregman, Ian Kinsler, Ryan Braun, Sam Fuld, and more. Weinstein said Kansas City Royals 3B Mike Moustakas, who is married to a Jewish woman, would be eligible if not for a recent stint on the disabled list.

However the roster pans out, volunteers like Gladstone, Jacobs and Rosenthal hope Israel’s success on the international stage will boosts its popularity within the country, which has been a consistent goal. In early January, players will head to Israel for a team trip.

“When we got that final out in Brooklyn, to know the positives that it would do for growing the game in Israel is amazing,” Gladstone said. “It’s not only the money, but also the equipment and notoriety. You felt like you accomplished something. You had a very small part in growing the game of baseball, and for providing opportunities for young kids in Israel who maybe wouldn’t have that if we didn’t win a baseball game.”

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sam brief mugSam Brief is a sophomore at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, where he is a television reporter, radio producer, play-by-play man and writer. Follow him on Twitter @sambrief and feel free to shoot him an email at briefsam@gmail.com.

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The 16 Jewish Cubs

The first Jewish Cub

The first Jewish Cub

By Scott Barancik, Editor

On September 5, 1927, Lefty Weinert tossed a 6-1, complete-game win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the first game of a doubleheader at Wrigley Field, yielding 5 hits and no earned runs.

It wasn’t just the 25-year-old southpaw’s Chicago Cubs premiere. It also marked the very first Jewish appearance in this storied franchise’s history.

Another lengthy dry spell would follow. The next Jewish Cub didn’t appear until September 7, 1942, when 23-year-old third baseman Cy Block went 2-for-4 with an RBI double in his Major League debut.

In time, the numbers grew. Through 2016, a total of 16 Jewish players had worn a Cubs uniform. The most recent: outfielder Ryan Kalish, who first played for Chicago in 2014 and earned a .444 on-base percentage in 10 plate appearances during the 2016 regular season.

 

Jewish Cubs

  1. Ryan Kalish, OF (2014, 2016)
  2. Scott Feldman, P (2013)
  3. John Grabow, P (2009-11)
  4. Sam Fuld, CF (2007, 2009-10)
  5. Jason Marquis, P (2007-08)
  6. Adam Greenberg, CF (2005)
  7. Andrew Lorraine, P (1999-2000)
  8. Jose J. Bautista, P (1993-94)
  9. Ken Holtzman, P (1965-71, 1978-79)
  10. Dave A. Roberts, P (1977-78)
  11. Steve Stone, P (1974-76)
  12. Art Shamsky, 1B (1972)
  13. Ed Mayer, P (1957-58)
  14. Hy Cohen, P (1955)
  15. Cy Block, 3B (1942, 1945-46)
  16. Lefty Weinert, P (1927-28)

The roster of Jewish Cubs is dominated by pitchers. Over the decades, a total of 11 hurlers have combined for 165 wins against 156 losses and a 4.07 ERA. Kenny Holtzman tossed two of the franchise’s 10 no-hitters and racked up 80 wins, tying him for 23rd-most in Cub history. Steve Stone, who also pitched for the White Sox, played three seasons with the Cubs before going on to earn a Cy Young Award with the Baltimore Orioles.

A partial box score from <a href=

Lefty Weinert's Chicago Cub debut on September 5, 1927 (click for full box score)" width="300" height="209" srcset="http://www.jewishbaseballnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/weinert-box-300x209.jpg 300w, http://www.jewishbaseballnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/weinert-box.jpg 406w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" /> A partial box score from Lefty Weinert’s Chicago Cub debut on September 5, 1927 (click image for full box score)

Pitchers are so dominant on the list that they account for 75 percent of all at-bats by Jewish Cubs — and eight of nine Jewish home runs. Position players have hit .253 with a .343 on-base percentage for the Cubs but managed just one home run in 328 combined at-bats, a solo shot by CF Sam Fuld on the last day of the 2009 regular season.

Art Shamsky burned the Cubs twice. In 1969, the outfielder hit .300 with the New York Mets to help deliver Chicago its most devastating late-season collapse. In 1972, in the twilight of his career, Shamsky managed just two hits in his only 16 at-bats as a Cub.

Ryan Kalish played for the Cubs in 2014 and 2016

Ryan Kalish played for the Cubs in 2014 and 2016

Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, assembled the roster that led to the team’s 2016 World Series triumph. There were no Jewish players in uniform during the Cubs’ playoff run, however. Kalish, who hit .368 at Triple-A in 2016, was left off the Major League roster and declared his free agency on October 11.

There was one Jewish Cub in a World Series, if only briefly. Cy Block entered Game 6 of the 1945 Series against Hank Greenberg‘s Detroit Tigers as a pinch-runner in the 9th inning with the score tied 7-7. Although he didn’t cross home plate, Chicago went on to beat Detroit 8-7 in 12 innings despite a Greenberg home run.

Detroit, of course, won Game 7, launching what would be a 70-year World Series drought for the Cubs that would finally end, gloriously, in 2016.

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By Scott Barancik, editor

A Jewish duo keyed Oakland’s 4-3 win yesterday over the Astros (9/18/2015).

Danny Valencia supplied the power. Batting cleanup, the mid-season acquisition hit a solo HR in the 4th inning and a two-run shot in the 8th that proved to be the game-winner.

Sam Fuld furnished the glove. Houston was up 2-0 in the 3rd inning and had men on first and second base with no outs when Carlos Correa smashed a shot to left-center. Fuld, playing center, sprinted 58 feet toward left and made a leaping, backhanded catch that evoked memories of his heyday as “Super Sam.”

“We get accustomed to seeing it because [Fuld’s] so great at it, but, I mean, it definitely changes the game,” Valencia told MLB.com. “It keeps the runs down; it keeps the score down. If he doesn’t make that play, there’s a good chance we could still be playing or end up on the other side of it.”

Valencia’s homers were his career-high 15th and 16th of the season and marked his first two-dinger game since 9/25/2010, his rookie year with the Minnesota Twins. The Miami native also singled and walked for a perfect day at the plate.

It was a fitting if slightly early birthday present for Valencia, who turns 31 today. Many Blue Jays fans were distraught when Toronto placed the Miami native on waivers earlier this season. Valencia had hit .296 off the bench with 7 HRs, 13 doubles and 29 RBIs in 162 at-bats. One blogger wondered aloud whether Oakland’s pick-up just might be the best mid-season acquisition off waivers in the past decade.

The blogger proved prescient. Since joining Oakland, Valencia has hit shown even more power, hitting .278 with 9 HRs and 31 RBIs in only 133 at-bats. For the full season, he’s hitting .288 with 16 HRs, 60 RBIs, 20 doubles, a .333 on-base percentage, and a .525 slugging percentage.

 

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By Scott Barancik, editor

Here’s what’s happening in Major League Baseball.

Ryan Braun hit his 250th career home run Wednesday. Among Jewish players, only legends Hank Greenberg (331) and Shawn Green (328) have hit more. The homer, Braun’s 20th of the season, came against the Cubs’ Jason Hammel, the same pitcher who gave up Braun’s 249th round-tripper on July 31. Unfortunately, it came in Wrigley Field, where the silence was audible.

Braun, who added two singles Wednesday, is the 19th active Major League player with 250 or more HRs and the second youngest next to Prince Fielder. He is one home run behind Brewers career leader Robin Yount.

Speaking of home runs, Oakland’s Danny Valencia hit a massive shot to center Wednesday against Toronto, his 10th home run of the season and third since joining the A’s on August 5. Meanwhile, teammate Sam Fuld made two highlight-reel plays in the field, throwing out the Blue Jays’ Troy Tulowitzki at home plate, and — in a classic Jew vs. Jew moment — makes a spectacular catch in left to rob Kevin Pillar of extra bases. (Pillar, who doubled earlier in the game, got the last laugh as Toronto won its 10th straight, 10-3.)

Houston’s Scott Feldman pitched six shutout innings Wednesday in a 2-0 win over the Giants, yielding just four hits and a walk while striking out four. It was the 6’7″ right-hander’s first win since May 26, having sat out nearly 2 months this season after getting knee surgery.

 

 

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valencia old newBy Scott Barancik, editor

Danny Valencia, who was as shocked as his fans were when the Toronto Blue Jays designated him for assignment on Saturday (8/1/2015), has been claimed off waivers by the Oakland Athletics.

The 30-year-old Florida native was hitting .296 with 7 HRs, 13 doubles, and 29 RBIs in 162 at-bats when the Blue Jays decided to move him off the team’s roster. A versatile utility man who spent most of his time in left field this season but also manned right field, third base, second base and first base, Valencia will join Ike Davis and Sam Fuld on what now will be this season’s most Jewish major-league team.

Valencia is losing a lot, too. In leaving Toronto, he gives up a clubhouse he loves, an exciting and highly-productive Jewish duet with teammate Kevin Pillar, and a 55-52 team whose playoffs chances rose with this week’s acquisition of ace pitcher David Price. The A’s, by contrast, are last in the A.L. West with a 47-60 record.

But Valencia is nothing if not resilient, having played for five teams since his 2010 debut with the Minnesota Twins, when he finished third in voting for A.L. Rookie of the Year.

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By Scott Barancik, editor

As baseball fans celebrate Opening Day, Jewish Baseball News is taking a look back at the 21 Jews who participated in MLB Spring Training this year.

Fifteen position players and six pitchers saw playing time, some as full-fledged team members, others as non-roster invitees, and several via short-term stints. Their stats are shown at the bottom; players who made their franchise’s Opening Day roster are shown in bold.

Following are some of the Spring’s top stories.

  • It will take a lot more for him to earn back some fans’ trust and affection, but Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun — fresh from a 65-game suspension for taking performance-enhancing drugs — dazzled, hitting .417 with nine RBIs and eight extra-base hits in 36 at-bats.
  • Ike Davis and Josh Satin both made the Mets’ Opening Day roster and will share First Base duties with Lucas Duda. But Davis — who squeaked by with a .241 average in Spring Training — is among the candidates to be sent down later this week to make room for Jon Niese.
  • Nate Freiman‘s 11 RBIs ranked eighth on the A’s, but it wasn’t enough to make the team’s Opening Day roster. Meanwhile, teammate Sam Fuld wowed his way onto the roster with four triples, 7 RBIs and a .348 on-base percentage.
  • With Boston’s Craig Breslow starting the season on the disabled list, Scott Feldman is the only Jewish pitcher to make an Opening Day roster. He also was the only Jewish starter during spring Training. As a group, Jewish pitchers went 1-and-5.
  • After missing much of the past three seasons with surgeries and injuries, former Boston Red Sox OF Ryan Kalish earned a spot on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster. Kalish hit .304 with 3 RBIs, stole 6 of 7 bases, and reached base 38.5% of the time.
  • Texas prospect Aaron Poreda earned some respect in his first MLB Spring Training since 2011. Poreda claimed one save in two chances, held opposing hitters to a .265 average, and walked just one batter over 8.1 innings.
  • Ian Kinsler, traded by Texas during the off-season for Detroit’s Cecil Fielder, outperformed “Big Daddy” with 3 HRs, 9 extra-based hits, 9 RBIs, a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen bases, a .300 average, and a .382 on-base percentage. Fielder matched Kinsler’s power (3 HRs, 9 extra-base hits, 10 RBIs) but hit .246 while striking out 16 times and drawing only two walks.
  • Ben Guez, a 27-year-old outfielder who spent part of the last four seasons with Detroit’s Triple-A club but has yet to be called up, made a brief but exciting splash in three Spring Training games. Against Toronto on 3/18/2014, Guez reached base all six times, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and three walks. His career MLB Spring Training average is a robust .529, along with a .692 on-base percentage.

 MLB Spring Training hitting, 2014

Team AB H 2B 3B HR RBI SB AVG OBP
Zach Borenstein LAA 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 NA 1.000
Ryan Braun MIL 36 15 5 0 3 9 0 .417 .500
Ike Davis NYM 29 7 2 0 2 7 0 .241 .313
Cody Decker SDP 10 3 1 0 1 4 0 .300 .417
Nate Freiman OAK 42 10 2 1 1 11 0 .238 .327
Sam Fuld OAK 59 16 1 4 1 7 1-1 .271 .348
Ben Guez DET 7 5 2 0 0 2 0-1 .714 .818
Ryan Kalish CHC 46 14 1 0 0 3 6-7 .304 .385
Ian Kinsler DET 60 18 5 1 3 9 4-4 .300 .382
Ryan Lavarnway BOS 38 11 1 0 2 5 0 .289 .357
Jake Lemmerman SDP 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .500
Joc Pederson LAD 38 7 1 0 3 6 0 .184 .311
Kevin Pillar TOR 33 5 1 1 0 4 0-1 .152 .176
Josh Satin NYM 50 13 2 0 1 4 0 .260 .333
Danny Valencia KCR 48 11 1 0 1 4 1-1 .229 .327

Notes: Zach Borenstein walked in his only plate appearance

MLB Spring Training pitching, 2014

Team W L ERA G IP H BB SO AVG WHIP
Jeremy Bleich NYY 0 0 9.00 1 1.0 2 0 0 .500 2.00
Scott Feldman HOU 0 2 5.40 4 16.2 21 2 14 .292 1.38
Aaron Poreda TEX 0 1 3.24 8 8.1 9 1 8 .265 1.20
Danny Rosenbaum WAS 0 1 2.70 3 3.1 3 2 2 .300 1.50
Jeff Urlaub OAK 1 1 8.10 4 3.1 4 2 1 .333 1.80
Josh Zeid HOU 0 0 4.15 7 8.2 12 4 12 .333 1.85

Notes: Aaron Poreda earned one save in two chances; Josh Zeid earned a save in his sole opportunity. Boston’s Craig Breslow did not play, due to injury

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By Scott Barancik, editor

Hollywood couldn’t have scripted Ryan Braun‘s return from disgrace any better.

In his first at-bat since completing a 65-game suspension, the presumably drug-free Milwaukee Brewer smashed an 0-1 pitch off Oakland A’s pitcher Tommy Milone over the left-field wall (see video). “It’s still the first day of spring training,” Braun told USA Today. “Better to hit the ball hard then to strike out.”

Naturally, hecklers and jokesters were in attendance. One wore an A’s hat emblazoned with the phrase “MVP-E-D,” a conflation of Braun’s 2011 MVP award and his use performance-enhancing drugs.

In a switch aimed at making room for second-year outfielder Khris Davis, left fielder Braun played right field for the first time in his MLB career, a span that includes 944 regular-season games.

The Brewers faced off against the Oakland A’s, whose lineup featured 1B Nate Freiman (0-for-2) and Sam Fuld (0-for-2).

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By Scott Barancik, editor

Sam Fuld is leaving one “Moneyball” team for another.

A free agent after three seasons with the Chicago Cubs and another three with the Tampa Bay Rays, Fuld has signed a minor-league contract with the Oakland A’s, where competition for a final outfield roster spot on the Major League club is said to be less stiff.

The 32-year-old defensive specialist said Oakland — the inspiration for Michael Lewis’s best-selling book and Hollywood adaptation — was a natural fit for him.

“It’s no secret that Oakland is essentially a carbon copy of the Rays in many ways on the West Coast, so it’s not surprising that they showed interest in me,” Fuld told the Tampa Bay Times.

The defensive specialist saw his batting average plunge 56 points to .199 in 2013 as he managed only five extra-base hits in 176 at-bats. In 2011, Fuld’s breakout year with the Rays, he hit .240 with 26 extra-base hits in 308 at-bats.

Fuld’s new contract leaves him two chances to opt-out during the season. He says he would not rule out returning to Tampa Bay.

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(MiLB.com)

By Scott Barancik, editor

San Diego Padres prospect Maxx Tissenbaum was one of five players sent to the Tampa Bay Rays today as part of a 7-player trade headlined by Rays pitcher Alex Torres and Padres infielder Logan Forsythe.

A 22-year-old infielder who was chosen in the 11th round of the 2012 amateur draft and hit .277 with the Fort Wayne Tincaps (Single A) in 2013,  Tissenbaum was described today by the Tampa Bay Times as a “young, scrappy player with a good eye.”

Just how good an eye? The Toronto native struck out a team-low once in every 11.5 at-bats in 2013, was the only Tincap to walk more times (43) than he fanned (36), and ranked second on the club in on-base percentage (.365). He also led the team with 28 doubles and ranked third with 49 RBIs.

What position the Rays expect Tissenbaum to play is the big question. A career infielder who split 2013 between second base (92 games), shortstop (22 games) and DH (2 games), the Stony Brook College alum was sent to the Padres’ instructional complex in the Dominican Republic during the offseason for a crash course in playing catcher. Among those he worked with were Triple-A manager Pat Murphy and retired MLB catcher (and fellow Jew) Brad Ausmus, who later was named manager of the Detroit Tigers. “I tried to be as much of a sponge as I could, soaking up all the lessons that their years of experience could offer me,” Tissenbaum wrote in a recent blog post. “I actually enjoyed learning to catch way more than I thought I would.”

The only other Jewish player in the Rays’ system is P Lenny Linsky, who went 7-5 with a 3.22 ERA in 2013 for the Charlotte Stone Crabs (A-Advanced). Sam Fuld, who played for the Rays from 2011-13, is a free agent.

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By Scott Barancik, editor

Free agent Kevin Youkilis has covered a lot of ground the past two seasons, playing for A.L. teams in Boston, Chicago, and New York.

This time, he’s moving a little farther afield: Japan. The three-time All-Star, 34, has signed a one-year, $4-million deal to play for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, the defending Japanese champion.

“He’s looking at this as a terrific life experience for his family,” agent Joe Bick said. Youkilis‘ wife and two children, ages 7 and 1, will spend the season with him.

Youkilis — who played just 28 games for the New York Yankees in an injury-plagued 2013 season — will be at least the fifth Jewish major leaguer to play in Japan. He is preceded by Micah Franklin, Gabe Kapler, Richie Scheinblum and Josh Whitesell.

MLBTradeRumors.com reported that Youkilis had “received interest from eight or nine Major League clubs” but had been in talks with the Golden Eagles for several weeks.

Rakuten ace Masahiro Tanaka, who recorded an astounding 24-0 record in 2013, has been the subject of fevered speculation recently in the States. A number of Major League clubs have expressed interest in signing him, but the Golden Eagles have yet to decide whether to allow it.

“Rakuten” is an Internet shopping company. The baseball team is located in Sendai, in the Tohoku region of Japan. The Golden Eagles’ stadium was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami there in 2011.

Like Youkilis, Tampa Bay Rays free agent Sam Fuld reportedly has received interest from Japanese teams about the 2014 season.

Kapler, who overlapped with Youkilis in Boston from 2004-06 and spent part of the 2005 season playing for the Yomiuri Giants, tweeted Friday that he “had a good talk with Youkilis re Japan. He’s excited about something completely new in his life. Amazing cultural opportunity for Yoooouuk!”

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By Scott Barancik, editor

For Sam Fuld, the Tampa Bay Rays have been the “perfect organization,” a team that appreciated his aggressiveness on the basepaths and competence in the outfield. Had the Chicago Cubs not traded him in 2011, he might never have had enough playing time to achieve legendary status for his diving catches, and to inspire a fan giveaway like the Rays’ “Super Sam” Fuld cape.

But the 32-year-old’s tenure with the Rays likely ended yesterday when the team opted not to tender him an offer. The decision leaves Fuld a free agent for the first time in his six-year MLB career.

“I knew it was a possibility,” Fuld said Monday. “By no means did I think it was a sure thing that I’d be tendered. I was prepared for it at some level. Given the season I had last year, it’s not all together surprising.” Fuld hit just .199 in 119 games last season.

Neither Fuld nor the Rays ruled out the possibility of reaching a deal before the season begins, but the Stanford alum said there was only a “1-in-30 chance.”

“For the first time in my life, I have some say in who I play for,” he added.

Like Fuld, outfielder Ryan Kalish became a free agent Monday after the Boston Red Sox declined to tender an offer. The 25-year-old Kalish has undergone back and shoulder surgery in recent years and was out all of 2013.

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By Scott Barancik, editor

Ah, the off-season. That time of year when baseball fans and writers have little else to do but speculate about which players will move, and where. Ian Kinsler made a splash recently when the Texas Rangers traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers for slugger Prince Fielder. Who’s next?

We at Jewish Baseball News profess no inside information or special insight on the topic. Following is a brief update on the latest rumors.

  • Scott Feldman, a 30-year-old starter who split 2013 between the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles, is a free agent. At least one reputable website, mlbtraderumors.com, thinks the O’s will resign him. Feldman went a combined 12-12 last season with two completes games, a shutout, and a 3.86 ERA .
  • Kevin Youkilis, a 34-year-old infielder who played just 28 games for the New York Yankees last season due to injury, is a free agent. Where he’ll end up is unknown. Youkilis‘ agent told the New York Daily News that he’s “100 percent healthy” after recovering from back surgery. MLB.com’s Ian Browne says it’s unlikely he’ll return to Boston, where Youk spent the first nine years of his MLB career.
  • Jason Marquis, a 35-year-old starter who underwent Tommy John elbow surgery this season and will begin 2014 on the disabled list, is a free agent. Given uncertainty over his health, it’s possible Marquis will be offered a minor-league contract rather than a major-league one.
  • Sam Fuld, a 32-year-old outfielder with the Tampa Bay Rays, is arbitration eligible. On December 2, Fuld will find out whether the Tampa Bay Rays are going to tender a contract or set him loose as a free agent.
  • Kevin Pillar, a 24-year-old who just completed his rookie season with the Toronto Blue Jays, is not a free agent. But as Pillar departed recently to play in the Dominican Winter League, at least one observer wondered whether the Jays might be showcasing him for a possible trade.

  • Ike Davis, a 26-year-old first baseman with the New York Mets, is not a free agent. But general manager Sandy Alderson says either Davis or fellow first baseman Lucas Duda is likely to be dealt before Spring Training begins. Davis, for his part, says he wants to stay in New York.

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http://scores.espn.go.com/mlb/photos?gameId=330930113&photoId=3279264#photo_3279266

ARLINGTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 30: Tampa Bay’s Sam Fuld steals third base against Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers in the ninth inning of the American League Wild Card tiebreaker game at Rangers Ballpark.(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

By Scott Barancik, editor

When defensive replacement Sam Fuld singled to open the 9th inning of Monday night’s tiebreaker against the Texas Rangers, you just knew he wasn’t going to passively run the bases.

It was a perfect Fuldian storm. With the Rays up by a slim 4-2 margin and a Wild Card slot on the line, the stakes were huge. And the Rays needed a morale boost: hostage to a boisterous Texas crowd, facing a team that had beaten them in the 2011 A.L. Wild Card game, Tampa Bay had lost at least one run in the 7th inning when umpires wrongly ruled that Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin had fairly caught rather than trapped a fly ball off the bat of Delmon Young.

Fuld‘s psychology also was at play. A 31-year-old utility player with a .199 batting average, the Stanford alum and father of two knows he remains a Major Leaguer primarily because of his stellar defense and heads-up, aggressive baserunning.

But no one could have predicted what “Super Sam” ended up doing next.

After the Rays’ Wil Myers advanced him to second base on a groundout, Fuld waited until the count on teammate Ben Zobrist was 2-and-2 and then headed for third base while Rangers pitcher Tanner Scheppers was still deciding which pitch to throw. Fuld was halfway down the line before the reliever realized what was happening. (See the video here.) After Scheppers’ off-balance toss went wide, the runner scrambled to his feet and ran home to score.

As usual, Fuld’s seemingly instinctive risk-taking was based on solid research.

“I knew [Rangers third baseman Adrian] Beltre was nursing a bad hammy, so I thought he might be slow to cover at third,” Fuld told MLB.com. “It was loud all night, and with the noise, it might take Scheppers longer to hear that I was going. And I had heard and I’d seen that he had trouble throwing to bases. I had that all working in favor for me. So I figured, why not take a chance?”

The Rays face Cleveland in the Wild Card game on Wednesday (10/2/2013).

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By Scott Barancik, editor

For some Jewish baseball fans, Yom Kippur isn’t just the holiest day on the calendar. It’s also a litmus test of a ballplayer’s commitment to Judaism.

That’s not so true here at Jewish Baseball News, a secular website that holds no grudge against a ballplayer for choosing to swing a bat during the High Holidays (although we take pride when a player like Sandy Koufax or Shawn Green elects to pray rather than play).

Some players find ways to bridge the gap. Consider reliever Craig Breslow, who told Boston’s Jewish Journal:

“In previous years, I have participated in online Passover seders and High Holy Day services, and have fasted as best as I could, even on game days. ‘Typically, I try to observe the holidays in a way that is meaningful to me and indicative of my commitment to Judaism, but also honors and acknowledges the commitment that I have made to my teammates.”

So without further ado, here’s a breakdown of who played last night, and who didn’t.

Played

Six Jewish major leaguers played last night, and five of them emerged victorious:

  1. Nate Freiman, Oakland A’s.Went 1-for-2. Result: defeated the Texas Rangers.
  2. Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers. Went 0-for-2 but drew three walks, drove in a run, and scored 2 more. Result: lost to the Oakland A’s.
  3. Danny Valencia, Baltimore Orioles. Went 1-for-4 with an RBI single. Result: defeated the Toronto Blue Jays.
  4. Craig Breslow, Boston Red Sox. Of the three batters faced, struck out one, walked another, and gave up a two-run double, leading to a blown save. Result: defeated the New York Yankees.
  5. Josh Zeid, Houston Astros. Pitched a scoreless 8th inning, giving up a walk and a hit but no runs, and earning a hold. Result: defeated the Los Angeles Angels.
  6. Sam Fuld, Tampa Bay Rays. Was brought in as a defensive replacement in the 9th inning. Result: defeated the Minnesota Twins.

Did not play, for one reason or another 

Four major leaguers didn’t play last night even though their teams did, and three of the teams won anyway. With the exception of Baltimore’s Scott Feldman, Baylawsuits doesn’t know whether it was the players’ decision not to play or their managers’.

  1. Scott Feldman, Baltimore Orioles. A member of the team’s starting rotation, he’d pitched 2 days earlier. Result: defeated the Toronto Blue Jays.
  2. Ryan Lavarnway, Boston Red Sox. A back-up catcher, he hasn’t played since Sept. 7. Result: defeated the New York Yankees.
  3. Kevin Pillar, Toronto Blue Jays. A back-up outfielder, he’d started seven of his team’s past 10 games and played part of one other. Result: lost to the Baltimore Orioles.
  4. Josh Satin, New York Mets. A versatile infielder, he’d started six of his team’s past 10 games and played parts of two others. Result: defeated the Miami Marlins.

Unable to play

Four players were on the disabled list, and one was on suspension for violating baseball’s anti-drug policy.

  1. Ike Davis, New York Mets. On disabled list.
  2. Ryan Kalish, Boston Red Sox. On disabled list.
  3. Jason Marquis, San Diego Padres. On disabled list.
  4. Kevin Youkilis, New York Yankees. On disabled list.
  5. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers. Suspended.

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