With Terry Francona going bye-bye, it’s probably worth Red Sox’ fans time to turn their pitchforks and torches toward Theo Epstein’s house because, hey, what else is there to do? Cheer for the Yankees?
To that end, there’s a goodly bit of low-level rumor-churning going on in the past 24 hours. First came Buster Olney’s thing yesterday in which “friends of Theo Epstein” say that “he would embrace the opportunity to go to the Cubs.” Today Gordon Wittenmyer takes that and does a little more speculatin’ about hypotheses on the subject:
With Epstein potentially available for an interview — not to mention his future with Boston questioned in the aftermath of the biggest September collapse in baseball history — the Cubs are expected to make a run at him.
Usual caveats apply: why would Epstein leave Boston, why would Boston let him out of his contract, etc. But then again, no one thought Terry Francona was going anyplace a couple of days ago either, so who knows?
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.