Vladimir Guerrero is out of the Orioles’ lineup tonight with a wrist injury that dates back to Sunday, when he was hit by a pitch in the game against the Red Sox that featured ejections (and later suspensions) galore.
Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reports that Guerrero isn’t even available off the bench and will be examined by a doctor, with Matt Wieters taking his place as the designated hitter and Craig Tatum replacing Wieters behind the plate.
Guerrero’s poor second half and abysmal playoff performance last season hinted that he was in the middle of a steep decline at age 36 and sure enough he’s hit just .279 with seven homers and a .700 OPS in 83 games after signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles, which is the worst OPS of his career by nearly 100 points.
It won’t be tough for the Orioles to replace that production, but in signing Guerrero they were no doubt hoping that he could help them stay in contention or at least fetch some decent value in a midseason trade and right now neither looks like it’ll happen even if the injury proves minor.
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.