I just went over to Charlie Manuel’s press availability because — let there be no mistake about this — Charlie Manuel is awesome. If I could take a road trip with any guy in baseball it would be him. Well, maybe Ozzie Guillen if I wasn’t all hung up on coming back alive, but Cholly would be way up there.
Important for our purposes is that one of the first questions asked of Manuel was what he thought of Jeff Francoeur, in whom the Phillies are apparently interested. The answer: “I’ve always liked Francoeur.” He then made a comparison between Frenchie and Jayson Werth when he first joined the Phillies, referring to how each of them hadn’t yet lived up to their potential. he talked about how Francoeur “hadn’t had success for a couple of years,” and that he was sure he was due to come back. It was unclear where Francoeur was supposed to come back to, because objectively speaking he’s always been gone, but everyone loves Charlie Manuel and no one pressed the issue.
When asked if he thought he could help Francoeur — the big talking point among Philly fans this week being whether Manuel could “fix” him — Manuel said that he saw “mechanical flaws” in Francoeur’s game. I just checked my Cholly-to-English dictionary and it seems that “mechanical flaws” translates roughly to “a complete and utter inability to play the game and an utter hostility to instruction or suggestion designed to make oneself better.” But like I said: roughly.
Manuel then went on to talk about how Jimmy Rollins needs to be Jimmy Rollins or some such thing, but really, my work was done by then.
Sign him, Ruben. You know you want to.
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.