Rafael Soriano does not care about the bats of the AL East

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rafael soriano.jpgGary Shelton of the St. Petersburg Times catches up with new Rays’ closer Rafael Soriano, who is as cool as a cucumber:

Jeter and A-Rod, you say. And he does not quiver. Ortiz and Youkilis, you say. And he does not flinch.

Teixeira and Hill, you are about to say. And he does not wait
for you to finish because the list of imposing American League East
hitters is long.

“I do not care,” Rafael Soriano says softly, firmly. “If I am
healthy, if I am on the mound, I do not care who the hitter is. I am
good, too.”

I absolutely love this response and I wish everyone asked about how tough the AL East is said something similar.

Yes, it’s a good division. Even tougher than it has been if the Orioles take the step forward many are expecting them to take.  But still, every major leaguer is a pro who, at some point in their lives, was the absolute best at what they did in their given peer group. The difference between being merely good and truly elite are not as great as many people realize.

There are differences in quality between the AL and the NL at present, and there are differences between the AL East and everyone else as well. But those differences are not akin to those between day and night or man and boy, and frankly, I’m tired of the exaggerations.

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.