Davey Johnson has gone 38-42 since taking over for Jim Riggleman as Nationals manager and every indication is that he’ll be retained for 2012, but before that happens general manager Mike Rizzo will go through the process of a manager search.
Yesterday the GM told Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com that “we’ve got a very streamlined group of high quality candidates that we’re going to talk to” and “I anticipate the process being much quicker, because we’ve already identified a lot of the candidates that we’re going to talk to.”
In other words, Johnson may not have to wait very long to find out if he gets to keep the job, although he apparently will have to interview for the full-time gig just like everyone else.
Zuckerman writes that Johnson “is the heavy favorite” and notes that Rizzo may have signed him to a multi-year managing contract months ago if MLB didn’t require the Nationals “to conduct full, formal managerial searches that include minority candidates.” Instead he signed a three-year “consultant” deal that covers various possible roles.
“I love Davey,” Rizzo told Zuckerman. “He’s going to be back next year in some capacity, either as the manager of the ball club or have a big say as to who is the manager of the ball club.” Nationals third base coach Bo Porter and Triple-A manager Randy Knorr will be among the non-Johnson candidates to interview, but this is clearly his job to lose.
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.