Don Baylor

Carney Lansford replaces Don Baylor as Rockies hitting coach

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Don Baylor is out as the Rockies’ hitting coach, which at first glance may seem strange after Colorado scored the third-most runs in the league this season. However, thanks to playing half their games at Coors Field the Rockies always score a ton of runs. In fact, they’ve finished among the league’s top five in 17 straight years.

To account for their hitter-friendly ballpark a stat like adjusted OPS+ is more useful than raw totals and the Rockies ranked just 10th among NL teams in OPS+ this season after ranking fourth in 2009. Away from Coors Field they hit just .226/.303/.351, ranking second-worst in both OPS and runs on the road.

On the other hand, both Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki have thrived under Baylor’s instruction and it’s tough to blame him for Todd Helton getting old. Beyond that, Carney Lansford was fired after serving as the Giants’ hitting coach in 2008 and 2009 because San Francisco ranked 15th and 13th in runs.

Baylor has said that he’d like to manage again and Cito Gaston recommended him to the Blue Jays as his replacement, but there hasn’t been much talk of him being a top candidate for any openings yet. Colorado has reportedly offered him another job within the organization.

Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?

Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.

It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.

Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.

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)
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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.