Gordon Edes talks managers. Among the tidbits:
* Eric Wedge is almost certain to be fired;
* Dave Trembley is going to be gone and Jim Riggleman may very well be too;
* Ken Macha is probably safe for now;
* No matter how much the Wilpons talk about Jerry Manuel being safe, Bobby Valentine is being considered in Queens;
* Ed Wade needs to hire someone to clean up the mess, and based on the names floated — everyone from retreads like Jim Fregosi to newbies like Jeff Bagwell — he hasn’t yet figured out what he’s going to do.
Take all of this with a grain of salt, however, because based on what Edes says about Bobby Cox and the Braves, he may not be as plugged in as he would have you believe.
Citing “a major league source,” Edes claims in the piece that Cox and Braves’ GM had a big falling out last spring over the way John Smoltz’ situation was handled and that the poor relationship between the men could very well mean that Cox won’t be back in 2010. On the surface that sounds plausible, but according to both Cox himself and Mark Bradley at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the report is bunk. Cox says “everything is fine” and that Wren has been “outstanding.” Wren is a little more reserved, but calls Edes’ report “inaccurate.”
I’m guessing Cox and Wren aren’t big pals like Cox and Schuerholz were, but Cox is a pro who has been around forever. He survived Ted Turner for crying out loud, so I can’t feature a couple of personnel decisions by Wren causing such a rift.
If Cox isn’t back in 2010 it’s because he’s tired of managing, not because he can’t get along with the boss.
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.
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.