Eric Gagne talked the Rockies into giving him a tryout yesterday:
I basically called them up and said I’m ready. I want to find a place to play and see if you guys give me a shot. I have no expectation. I told them I can help this team. I’m healthy right now. If they think it’s good enough, that’s good.
Unfortunately it sounds like he wasn’t very impressive. Troy Renck of the Denver Post notes that Gagne “looks trimmer and more muscular after working with a mixed martial arts trainer” during the offseason, but added that he “remains a longshot to join Colorado after a pedestrian bullpen session.”
Rockies skipper Jim Tracy would no doubt love to give Gagne a comeback chance after managing him with the Dodgers, but the former Cy Young winner is 34 years old, hasn’t been effective against big-league hitters since mid-2007, and spent last season posting a 4.65 ERA in an independent Canadian league.
At best he’ll get a minor-league deal and have to work his way back to the majors with an impressive stint at Triple-A, but it seems unlikely that he’s even capable of that at this point. On the other hand, if he steps up the MMA training he could probably beat up Jose Canseco some day.
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.