A couple of weeks ago Stephen Strasburg said that he just wanted to be normal. One of the guys. To take his starts out from under the microscope and have them just sort of blend into the flow of the season. I presume he’ll get there one day, but for 2012, it seems, he’s still going to be something of a special case, as the Nationals have decided to put him on an innings limit.
Which is smart, by the way, even if it will lead to a lot of talk about whether the Nats are using him optimally and all of that. Talk which will be especially acute if, as many suspect, the Nats play a bigger role in the playoff chase next year.
But the thing is, they stand a great chance of making serious noise in the NL East beyond 2012 as well, and to that end it makes all kinds of sense to make sure that his reconstructed elbow builds to proper strength and endurance. So yeah, cut him off at 150-160 innings or so and then, in 2013, show the rest of the league the fully armed and operational Stephen Strasburg.
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.