Deja vu all over again: Charlie Manuel dusts off the old "vote of confidence" for Brad Lidge

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Brad Lidge blew a save Saturday for the fourth time in 14 tries, but came back yesterday with a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 11th save and got a vote of confidence from manager Charlie Manuel:

I’ve definitely got to show him that I’m willing to stay with him and we’ll see what happens. … He definitely wants to prove he’s that man and he can still do it and that he’s good for our team and he can help us and he wants to keep his closer’s role. I feel like we’ve definitely got to give him some time.

That’s a lot of “definitely” in one quote. But wait, there’s more:

Believe me, I’ll never let my heart overrule the fact that we’re a team. I want what’s best for the team. I definitely think he’s got to be better than what he’s been so far. I also feel like, I think at times, I really believe he’s got to save a couple in a row. Today was a good start. Now he’s got to have two or three games in a row and run a clean slate. And then I think he may be all right. Because he’s very capable.

I appreciate the sentiment from Manuel, but since this is basically identical to how things played out with Lidge last season the “we’ve definitely got to give him some time” and “I’ll never let my heart overrule the fact that we’re a team” lines ring particularly hollow.
Philadelphia won the World Series in 2008 while Lidge went 48-for-48 converting saves between the regular season and playoffs, including closing out the decisive Game 5 win over the Rays. Since then he’s blown 15 of 57 save chances while posting a 6.69 ERA in 80.2 innings, serving up 16 homers while allowing opponents to bat .288 with a .508 slugging percentage.
Yes, he’s had some good stretches during that time, both this year and last year, but for the most part he’s been horrible now for two consecutive seasons. When the Phillies were coasting to a division title last year it wasn’t such a huge deal, but now they’re 2.5 games back of the Braves in the NL East and trailing two teams for the Wild Card.
And it’s not as if Manuel lacks options. Jose Contreras has been solid all season with a 3.65 ERA and 40/12 K/BB ratio in 37 innings and Ryan Madson has a 13/0 K/BB ratio in 11.2 innings since returning from the disabled list. Pick one as the new closer, use the other as the primary setup man, and make Lidge earn the job back by actually stringing together some impressive appearances in middle relief, where every ugly outing doesn’t have a chance to cost the Phillies a game.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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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.

Report: The new collective bargaining agreement reduces players’ meal money

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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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.