I’m predisposed to being a contrarian. I’m no crazy iconoclast or uber-non-conformist — I drive an Accord for crying out loud — but that is the general impulse. If you tell me something is the best ever, I’m going to look for flaws. If you hype something up, I’m going do my best to explain why everyone should calm down. I honestly believe that taking such an approach aids in critical thinking, but I’m also totally prepared to admit that a good amount of the time it only makes you sound like a mild ass. Oh well. Can’t change what I am.
So you can understand my frustration at the Red Sox-Phillies series that begins in Citizens Bank Park this evening. The two teams who were almost everyone’s pick to win the pennant. Big hitting against big pitching! A possible World Series preview! The source of the frustration? I can’t really argue with any of that.
I picked them to meet in the World Series before the season began, and if you put a gun to my head right now I’d say they’re still the favorites. The Red Sox’ recent mini-slump notwithstanding, they are big hitting, leading the majors in scoring. The Phillies have had a few bumps of their own — Ryan Madson and Roy Oswalt are out — but they still have the best ERA in baseball and it wouldn’t be easy to argue against their staff as a whole being the best in the game.
It is what everyone is saying it is. There isn’t much room for being a contrarian here. What an absolute drag!
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.