There’s a profile on Brian Wilson in today’s New York Times. It’s a bit more nuanced than your typical “that Brian Wilson is CRAZY!” article we’ve been seeing much of recently. I don’t think he’s crazy. Just a bit off center. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all calculated, but ultimately it’s harmless. It’s also probably the sort of thing that won’t sit will with his employers once he stops saving 40+ games a year. “Ball Four” wasn’t written that long ago. The notion that eccentricity in baseball is only acceptable if you’re an elite player likely still holds. As it does in almost every walk of life in our society, sadly enough.
OK, that got a tad pessimistic. This was the part I liked the best. Wilson’s ultimate aim:
“I’d like to be a crossword clue one day,” he said. “I want to be in The New York Times’s Sunday edition. Right now, the clue ‘Giants great’ is always Mel Ott. I want my clue to be down, not across. The down ones are usually harder. And when I’m the clue, I’ll fill it in — just that one — and frame it.
“How sweet would that be?”
Careful what you wish for, Brian. “Bearded Giants closer; blew Game 7” is just as valid a clue as any other.
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.
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.