In honor of Joe Torre starting Vicente Padilla on Opening Day (now official!), lar at Wezen-Ball gives us a list of the worst Opening Day starters of all time. Two thoughts:
1. I am absolutely tickled that Jack Morris makes the list. Take that Morris-for-the-Hall-of-Fame truthers!
2. I am happy to see that Rick Mahler did not make the list. There was a stretch there when he was the official Braves Opening Day guy. I think he did it five or six times, which was quite an indictment of the Braves mid-80s pitching. The fact that I actually looked forward to Rick Mahler starting was an indictment of my Chuck Tanner Braves’ Stockholm Syndrome as well.
Finally, it’s probably worth noting that Padilla’s Opening Day start comes on the road against the Pirates, so it’s not like the pageantry of the opening bow in Dodger Stadium is sullied or anything. Why a team from Southern California is playing on the road in the first week of April and a team from snow-and-cold prone western Pennsylvania is at home is another matter entirely.
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.