The Phillies have slowly — very slowly — closed the gap between themselves and the Braves over the past month or so, but most of the time it seems like the Braves and Phillies either both win or both lose most days.
Today: the Phillies got rocked by the Marlins, with Adalberto Mendez limiting them to one hit over six innings in his major league debut. The Phillies finished the game with three hits, continuing their recent offensive futility. The Braves — trotting out their young ace Tommy Hanson and facing the worst team in baseball — outhit the Pirates, but left oodles of runners on base on their way to a 3-1 loss.
Philly plays a doubleheader today so they have a chance to gain a half game tonight. But really, the way these two teams have been rolling lately, they’re going to be stuck together until the final weekend of the season when — theoretically anyway — someone has to win the division.
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.