Some of you wasted your weekend running errands, mowing lawns, going to graduation parties and spending time with your families. Some of you were smart and read HardballTalk. For those in the former camp, here’s some of what you missed:
- Carlos Zambrano returned to the rotation. And lost;
- The Royals may have already locked up their first round pick . . . who they won’t pick until today, so that, like, makes them psychic or something;
- Randy Winn signed with the Cardinals. Between that and the Phillies getting Willy Taveras, the market on sawdust-filler outfield help is getting tight;
- Carlos Beltran is playing honest-to-goodness baseball;
- Clackin’ that bat, gone with the wind, Garrett Wittels has done it again;
- Oliver Perez on the DL just when the Mets need a roster spot? How . . . convenient;
- Jason Heyward strikes out five times. So does Mark Teixeira. Took Teixeira extra innings to do it, though, so Heyward totally wins;
- D-Train debuts in desert; does dandy;
- Mike Cameron is bringing sexy back. Or something.
- Jeffrey Hammonds and four other guys were drafted before Jeter. Which is weird, because Hammonds is 49 years-old, isn’t he? Or does it just seem like he is?
- Mike Stanton is coming up. Between him, Strasburg, Heyward and Ike Davis it’s been quite the year for young NL East talent. Meanwhile, Domonic Brown has nose pressed against a window somewhere, sadly watching all the other kids have fun.
- And of course, here’s your week ahead.
Happy Monday, everyone.
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.
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.