This column from Anthony Schafer at The Riverfront Times — analyzing his pitching moves on one recent night — basically records and replays my inner monologue every time I watch a game managed by Tony La Russa:
This isn’t just about two players; this is about who is really important
in winning and losing. What this move says is that the players
themselves almost don’t matter at all, that the only thing that really
matters is how well the manager can fit his puzzle pieces together.
But after I have that inner monologue I always say to myself “man, that sonofabitch sure has won a lot of baseball games.”
I’ll never resolve this conflict. I’ll never know if his micromanagerial moves really hurt his teams long term or if they’re mere annoyances. I suspect they more than wash out with the good things he does because, let’s face it, you can’t be as wrong as I like to pretend Tony La Russa is and have the kind of success he’s had. This is really my issue, not his.
I don’t think enough about La Russa for him to qualify as my white whale. He’s something, though.
(thanks to Sara K — who used to comment like crazy in these parts back when she lived in the hinterlands, but doesn’t anymore now that she’s in California — for the link)
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.