A lot of folks may not remember Joe Frazier. He played for the Indians, Reds, Cardinals and Orioles organizations in the late 40s through the 50s. His highest profile job in baseball was as manager of the Mets, but he only had the job for a short period of time. He took over for the 1976 season and was fired 45 games into 1977.
His firing was sort of symbolic of what was about to happen with the Mets. A still competitive and respectable team in ’76 — they won 86 games that year — in ’77 they started horribly before Frazier was replaced by player/manager Joe Torre. Two weeks later the Mets traded Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman on the same day in what came to be known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.” The franchise was competitively moribund and generally dreary on the eyes of the fan base for several years afterwards. It was only when Strawberry and Gooden showed up that fortunes began to change.
In later years Frazier managed in the minors and held various jobs in and around baseball. He retired to his home in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma where he lived with his wife until yesterday, when he died of a massive heart attack.
Good travels, Joe Frazier.
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.