I started the day with Joe Morgan, so I’ll end the day with Joe Morgan.
I think I’m in the distinct minority in not really celebrating his departure from ESPN. I can live with that. I belong to a lot of distinct minorities. People who like Dylan’s signing voice for its own sake. People who prefer “Next Generation” to the Original Series. People who have had restraining orders issued against them for excessive handsomeness. It just goes with the territory of being a well-rounded gentleman.
But I can’t ignore the dissenting voices. The loudest and most effective of which on the subject of Joe Morgan came five years ago when Tommy Craggs wrote the definitive piece on what Morgan has become and what he means to the state of broadcasting and baseball thought. If you haven’t read it, by all means, take the time, as it’s still relevant, if not for Morgan himself, but for his many like-minded cohorts in the biz. The only dissent I’ll offer is that, while everything Craggs writes is correct and important to our consideration about the man, it’s entirely possible to not to know any of that stuff and not have it affect our baseball watching one iota. I know that’s an odd claim coming from me given that I go meta on the media and overanalzye everything, but it’s how I feel. Maybe it’s caused by lingering affection for some old Joe Morgan cards. I can’t say.
Finally, when you’re done with Craggs’ piece — or better yet, before you jump into it because it’s long and you’ll want more context — read Emma Span’s take over at Bronx Banter. I think she frames the matter perfectly. The upshot: in a perverse way, we needed Joe Morgan to come into our living room on Sunday nights like the Batman needs Joker. He completes us. We need him on that wall, etc.
Now: who has dibs on “Fire Orel Hershiser?” Because I smell a blogging opportunity!
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.