Ah, I kid La Russa, because he’s a kidder. Wait, no he’s not. He’s one of the more humorless managers in recent history. Hmmm, how about I kid Tony La Russa because I’m just not that big a fan.
But even if I’m not a fan I do admire and respect his accomplishments, which will have him in Cooperstown someday. It’s pretty astounding that he has lasted as long as he has with as much success as he has in a job that just seems designed to chew dudes up and spit them out. Bobby Cox managed my favorite team and Joe Torre won more rings, but really, I think I’m more impressed with La Russa and his track record than I ever was with Cox or Torre. La Russa has never wanted for talent or backing, but he never had the kind of luck , money or backing that Cox and Torre in Atlanta and New York, respectively.
Over at the Post-Dispatch today there is a nice story by Bryan Burwell about La Russa and his very long and very successful run in the majors. A good read about a guy who stands a great chance of being the last guy with this kind of staying power in Major League Baseball history. Almost makes me want to go back up and change that cheapshot headline.
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.