Great night for Angel Pagan, but he did have a little help out there

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Nyjer Morgan leaps.jpgAngel Pagan hit an inside-the-park homer in the fourth inning of last night’s Mets-Nats game, which you can see here. Then, in the fifth, he started off a triple play, which you can see here.

Before I say anything else, let me say this: great job by Pagan for (a) running like a mofo out of the box on the inside-the-parker; and (b) making a great catch on the triple play. What I’m about to say isn’t meant to take anything away from him.

But I’ll say it anyway: boo to Nyjer Morgan for misjudging the fly that turned into the home run. If he hadn’t and, if instead, he had played the carom, then Pagan would have had a double.  I’ve written before that I don’t, like many people, find inside-the-park home runs to be the most exciting play in baseball because they are so often the product of mistakes by the outfielders and many times aren’t even close plays (give me a clean triple any day). This one was still exciting — there was a play at the plate at least — but if Nyjer doesn’t misplay that ball, there’s no homer.

Also, boo to second base umpire Bob Davidson for not making anything close to a definitive call on Pagan’s catch that kicked off the triple play, thereby confusing the base runners. Yes, it’s the runners’ responsibility to make double damn sure that the ball drops before advancing, but on plays that close the ump has to make a better call than that.

And Mets fans: please, hold your “stop hating on the Mets” rebop. I’m not hating on them. Like I said, great plays by Pagan. But that doesn’t mean that Morgan and Davidson didn’t screw up.

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.