Hong-Chih Kuo missed time in 2009 with the dreaded “yips” and was on the disabled list earlier this season with “anxiety issues,” both of which make his inability to throw strikes last night doubly worrisome for the Dodgers.
When healthy and on top of his game Kuo is among the elite, most dominating relievers in baseball, but yesterday he threw just five of 17 pitches for strikes, walked two of the four batters he faced, uncorked a wild pitch, and coughed up three runs while recording one out.
However, when asked by Baxter Holmes of the Los Angeles Times if he was concerned about the outing, Kuo replied:
I walked a couple guys, I feel good. I just didn’t have command today. I feel bad I didn’t get guys out, but I go out there and I feel good.
I might be inclined to agree with Kuo, except his lack of command wasn’t just a one-game thing. Combined during his last four appearances Kuo has walked seven of 15 batters while giving up six runs and recording five total outs. He also has 15 walks in 16 innings overall this season after walking just 18 batters in 60 innings last year. Either he’s hurt or something simply isn’t right.
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.