Astros director of social media Alyson Footer reports that the club has dismissed Sean Berry as hitting coach and named Jeff Bagwell as his replacement.
Bagwell, 42, played all of his 15 major league seasons for the Astros and retired in 2005 with a .297/.408/.540 batting line, 2,314 hits and 449 home runs. He will try to right the ship on what has been a dreadful season at the plate for the Astros.
Houston ranks 28th in the league in runs scored, 29th in batting average, 27th in home runs and dead last in OPS. Bagwell won’t start the gig until after the All-Star break, so there will be no Mark McGwire-Bagwell hitting coach face-off today in Houston. But that’ll come later this season. Dingers!
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.