In unsurprising fashion Thursday, Braves veteran Chipper Jones told a group of Atlanta-based reporters, including MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, that he is hoping to postpone retirement talks until after the 2010 season.
Chipper spoke many times last year about possibly cutting his career short and again sparked the discussion
earlier this week. Through 175 at-bats this season, he is batting a
not-so-hot .234 with a .366 slugging percentage and only four home
runs. The 38-year-old third baseman is a .306/.406/.537 career hitter
over 16-plus professional seasons.
The topic of retirement is sure to come up after every 0-for-3 or 0-for-4 night that Jones experiences for the rest of the year, and you can bet that there will be many of those. This is baseball, after all, where being successful in a third of your at-bats means greatness. For now, though, Jones wants to focus on getting his club back to the playoffs.
The Braves currently sit atop the NL East standings by a half-game with a record of 38-28. The Mets are 37-28, the Phillies are 33-30 (3.5 games back) and the Marlins are 31-34 (6.5 games back).
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.