Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com passes along news from SportsTime Ohio (STO) that Grady Sizemore will bat No. 2 this season and Asdrubal Cabrera will lead off.
According to the STO report, new manager Manny Acta told Sizemore that the decision was made in order to take advantage of his power and run producing ability. He told Sizemore the Indians could get much more out of him this way since he bats roughly 150 times without anybody on base out of the No. 1 spot. Anybody who reads this blog knows that we’re a fan of Acta’s sabermetric leanings, although it didn’t lead to success in Washington.
Sizemore, who underwent surgeries to repair his left elbow and abdominal wall last September, had 109 at-bats out of the two-spot last season, but has been the primary leadoff hitter for Cleveland since the 2005 season. 2753 of his 3131 career at-bats have come out of the No. 1 spot in the order.
Cabrera isn’t exactly the on-base machine that Sizemore is, but he’s close, posting on-base percentages of .354 (2007), .346 (2008) and .361 (2009) over his first three seasons in the majors. He put together a .301/.340/.459 batting line in 131 at-bats out of the leadoff spot last season while Sizemore battled injuries and ineffectiveness.
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.