Last month, after failing to land spot on the Cubs’ bench, Kevin Millar retired and took a job with MLB Network, saying:
Working with the guys at the MLB Network is the next best thing to actually being in a clubhouse. I’m really excited to get started and have some fun.
In the three weeks since then Millar apparently changed his mind, because today he signed to play for the independent league St. Paul Saints.
Millar actually began his professional career with the Saints in 1993, back when he was 21 years old and they frequently had players snatched up by MLB organizations. In fact, five different guys from that 1993 team went on to play in the majors.
Millar signed with the Marlins in 1994 and after four more seasons in the minors eventually got his shot, playing a dozen seasons with Florida, Boston, Baltimore, and Toronto. He returns 17 years later, apparently unwilling to call it quits at age 38. Clearly “the next best thing to actually being in a clubhouse” can’t compete with actually being in a clubhouse, independent league or not.
UPDATE: A spokesperson for MLB Network informs me that Millar “will still continue his on-air role on MLB Network throughout this season” and in fact will be on “MLB Tonight” … well, tonight.
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.