Updating a previous item, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com, Tony La Russa has agreed to a new multi-year contract to manage the Cardinals.
This isn’t a tremendous surprise, but the possible newest addition to
his staff may raise a few eyebrows around the sport. According to
Olney, the Cardinals have fired hitting coach Hal McRae and the leading
candidate to replace him is former Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire.
McGwire has maintained a close relationship with La Russa over the years, but has been in baseball exile since appearing before a congressional hearing in 2005. McGwire hit 220 home runs in four and a half seasons with the Cardinals.
Unless McGwire finally addresses his alleged performance-enhancing drug
use, his presence could be an unnecessary distraction for a team that
is reeling from an early exit in the playoffs.
(5:40 pm ET) Update: Pat Lackey of AOL Fanhouse reports that the Cardinals have hired McGwire to replace McRae.
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.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.