I’d “quote of the day” this, but it came from a different day. Last week, in fact, after Bud Selig announced that expanded playoffs are an inevitability. Here’s Tim Lincecum:
“It doesn’t seem very fair, and personally, I don’t know where his head is at. Players like it the way it is. It’s dog-eat-dog. People know they need to win 11 games to win the World Series.”
Just worth throwing out there because, as he often does, when Selig officially announces that the playoffs will be expanded, he will claim the existence of a total consensus on the idea. That claim will be false, and the dissenters won’t be limited to cranky bloggers. Players understand the inherent unfairness of a one-game playoff if that’s the form it takes. They also dislike multiple days off, as division winners will face in the event the expanded format is a multi-game series between the wild cards.
By the way: I came across that quote in a good piece by Jim Litke of the Associated Press contrasting Selig’s handling of the expanded playoffs with his decision to leave Barry Bonds’ records in tact. I think Litke’s explanation of the inherent pragmatism in Selig’s approach to Bonds is the best I’ve seen and I recommend it.
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.