Jonny Venters

Kimbrel Unit malfunctions, Cards beat Braves in 10

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Someone had better perform a level 2 diagnostic on the Kimbrel Unit’s positronic net, because the results it achieved last night were well outside normal operating parameters.

The Braves were up 3-1 on the Cards heading into the bottom of the ninth last night when Craig Kimbrel, perhaps the most automatic thing in baseball this year, was called into the game to close it out.  Things didn’t go according to plan, however. This is what happened:

  • Skip Schumaker singled;
  • Rafael Furcal walked;
  • Ryan Theriot walked; and then
  • Albert Pujols singled in two runs.

Two of these hitters didn’t have much business touching Kimbrel, but that’s baseball for you. As for Pujols, I officially join all of those crazy Brewers fans who hate Albert Pujols. You were right all along, people.

OK, that’s not fair, he was just being himself. But I’m watchin’ you, Albert. Watchin’ you real close.

Anyway, with the game tied they headed to the 10th because that’s what the rules say you have to do. After the Braves went down 1-2-3, Fredi Gonzalez called on Scott Linebrink, because the rule book also says that you can’t use your best available pitcher on the road in a tie game. And that’s a rule backed by science and geometric logic. Linebrink gave up singles to Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, a sac bunt moved them up to second and third and then Nick Punto — the most dangerous man in baseball — hit a sac fly to center, scoring Holliday. Ballgame.

So, here we are: The Braves have a 6.5 game lead on the Cardinals in the wild card with 18 games to play for the Cards and 17 for the Braves.  I am not sweating yet. Not really. Like I said yesterday: if the Cardinals sweep, I sweat. If they don’t, the worst case is that the Braves keep that 6.5 game lead leaving St. Louis with 16/15 to play.  I think that’s insurmountable. At least I’m pretty sure it is.

It is, right? Please?

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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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.

Report: The new collective bargaining agreement reduces players’ meal money

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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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.