The commencement of interleague play means that help is on the way to the Mariners’ anemic lineup:
As a senior at Long Beach State, [Jason] Vargas served as the Dirtbags’ usual
designated hitter, finishing with a .354 batting average, 14 doubles
and five homers. Furthermore, the former Marlins and Mets pitcher didn’t
embarrass himself when he was required to bat for himself during his
three years in the National League.
During his big-league career,
Vargas – 14-for-48, with three doubles and two walks – is a .292 hitter
with a .320 on-base percentage and a .354 slugging percentage. Those
numbers are a significant improvement over, say, the .221/.248/.279 Jose
Lopez took into the Mariners’ game Tuesday at Oakland.
The notion that Mariners’ pitchers will represent an improvement in the lineup would be hilarious if it weren’t true.
Oh, and this report comes from John McGrath of the Tacoma News-Tribune, which is the same paper who kicked off the Sleeping Griffey fiasco. I have no reason to believe that they were out to get Griffey with that stuff, but you get the sense that they’re having quite a bit of fun twisting the knife with this latest bit.
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.