While Pittsburgh is sniffing around Rick Ankiel and Hank Blalock, they’re also thinking about Xavier Nady, according to Dejan Kovacevic:
An X-Man sequel?
The Pirates have made initial inquiries on free-agent outfielder
Xavier Nady, as well as reliever Ron Villone and shortstop Bobby
Crosby, though none of those inquiries is known to have moved past that
stage. In the cases of Nady and Villone, management likely will wait
until closer to spring training in search of the best value.
I love it: three useful guys — Ankiel, Blalock and Nady — fighting for two positions with the Pittsburgh Pirates of all teams, none of whom are likely to get more than a one-year make-good deal. As if you needed any more confirmation of yesterday’s thing about the middle class being squeezed.
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.