Coors Field has become somewhat less of a hitter’s paradise since the Rockies began storing baseballs in a humidor and Dave Krieger of the Denver Post reports that they hope to deflate the ridiculous offensive numbers being posted at Triple-A by doing the same in Colorado Springs.
In general the Pacific Coast League is very hitter-friendly, but Colorado Springs takes that to an extreme. Security Service Field is 6,531 feet above sea level, which is the highest elevation of any ballpark in professional baseball, and this season the pitching staff there had a combined 6.41 ERA.
It’s nearly impossible to develop pitching prospects in that environment and even getting an accurate sense of hitting prospects’ abilities is difficult. Former first-round pick Greg Reynolds, who spent most of the season at Triple-A, told Krieger that “the ball doesn’t really do what it’s supposed to do there” and “without even knowing it, you’re trying to do something a little different just to make the ball do what it’s supposed to do.”
In some sense there’s an advantage to be gained in preparing Triple-A prospects to play in the majors’ most hitter-friendly ballpark, but Colorado Springs is still going to be very hitter-friendly with a humidor or not and deflating the numbers a bit should help the pitchers focus more on development rather than simply not getting their brains bashed in.
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.