The gods just keep punishing the Mets

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090804_castillo.jpgMore bad news for the New York Mets: David Wright will be going on the DL after being attacked by an angry house cat while on his way to the ballpark on Tuesday.

OK so I made that up, but the way things are going, would you be surprised?

It wasn’t Wright who was hurt on Tuesday, but Luis Castillo, who sprained his ankle while slipping on the dugout steps. You might assume that some clown (Omar Minaya?) dropped a banana peel for Castillo to stumble over, and you wouldn’t be that far off. It was actually a glove left innocently on the steps that he was trying to avoid when he fell.

OK so losing Castillo isn’t like losing Carlos Beltran. Or Carlos Delgado. Or Jose Reyes. (Want the whole list? Find it here. And beware, it’s lengthy.) But he is a starter – and a pretty decent one at that – who was hitting .377 with a .473 OBP over the last month.

So what exactly did the Mets do to anger the baseball gods? Is it Bill Buckner’s revenge? Is the new stadium cursed? Maybe it’s a nasty bit of karma for those putrid shirts J.J. Putz was allowed to design.

Either way, this is getting ridiculous. And I think it’s about time the ghosts of the game ease up on the Mets and their fans. But just in case they don’t, the team might want to consider wrapping Johan Santana in bubble wrap.

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On a side note, is it time to stop pitching to Albert Pujols when he comes to the plate with the bases loaded? After hitting a grand slam to beat the Mets on Tuesday, here’s his line this season with the bases juiced: 7-for-9, 5 HRs, 24 RBIs. Intentionally walk him every time and he’s 0-for-0 with 0 HRs and 9 RBIs. I mean this tongue in cheek. I realize Tuesday’s blast was in extra innings. I understand there’s no guarantee you get the next guy out. Just wanted to point out that Pujols is kinda sorta good. Newsflash, I know.

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Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?

Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.

It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.

Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.