Nate McLouth has been absolutely terrible since coming off the disabled list, going 1 for 15 with no extra base hits. On the year he’s hitting .178/.279/.265. If there’s a worse regular for a playoff contender I haven’t seen him. Today the Braves said “enough” and optioned him to Triple-A Gwinnett.
The Braves don’t have a lot of outfield options. Gregor Blanco will likely get some time in center when he’s called up (which can’t be for another four days because he was optioned). Brent Clevlen was activated today but, c’mon, it’s Brent Clevlen. There is some talk that Jason Heyward could play center, but it seems like a big risk to take with such an important part of the team. Atlanta has to make a move to shore up the outfield.
Probably worth noting at this point that lots of Pirates fans and many Pirates players got all angry last summer when McLouth was traded. I understand the general frustration with that team constantly turning over its roster, but in this specific instance, no great loss.
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.