Courtesy of Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com, here is Cubs general manager Jim Hendry’s reaction to Carlos Zambrano’s intention to retire.
“We will respect his wishes and honor them and move forward.”
I can only assume this is an edited version of the original statement that may have read something like, “Thanks for taking us off the hook for the remainder of your contract. Party at my house.”
Of course, this is likely just the beginning of yet another ugly episode. If Zambrano really does walk away, he would be giving up the remainder of his $17.875 million salary for this season and his entire $18 million salary in 2012. That works out to somewhere around $24 million total. You can bet that whoever is in his ear is telling him to get his butt to the ballpark today and apologize for cleaning out his locker and walking out on his teammates. But hey, Big Z has always marched to the beat of his own drum, so he might actually be serious about this whole thing.
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.