I’m rather struck by the notion of Kirk Gibson as the Diamondbacks new manager. I know he’s been a bench coach and a hitting coach for a long time — both with the Tigers and the Dbacks, but I’ve never really considered him to be a future manager.
No reason for this, really. I guess I just still picture him as a player and not a coach, mostly because (a) he was one of the biggest personalities on the team I followed as a little kid; and (b) I don’t see a lot of Dbacks games so I haven’t seen him just sort of hanging out in the dugout thinking like coaches and managers do.
In my mind he’s still that fiery player of the 1980s, rounding first with his helmet flying off, snapping at Dodgers teammates for putting shoe polish in his cap and stuff like that. Still: it’s exactly that kind of fire and intensity that so many people like to see in a manager. Or at least in a managerial candidate (the fire often wears thin after Mr. Intensity takes the job).
Gibson has never managed on any level, which was one of A.J. Hinch’s biggest handicaps when he took the job. I have this feeling, however, that no one is going to give Gibson crap for that. He might just take their damn head off if they do.
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.