According to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel confirmed that John Mayberry Jr. will likely start in left field for Game 3 of the NLDS against the Cardinals tomorrow, leaving Raul Ibanez on the bench.
This isn’t a huge surprise given that the Phillies will be facing left-hander Jaime Garcia. Mayberry batted .306/.358/.595 with eight homers and .953 OPS over 120 plate appearances against southpaws this season while the veteran Ibanez batted just .211/.232/.353 with four homers and a .585 OPS over 138 plate appearances.
Much has been made of Garcia’s success over a handful of appearances against the Phillies during his career, but more important may be his dramatic home-away splits. The 25-year-old left-hander has a 2.37 ERA in his career at Busch Stadium compared to a 4.28 ERA on the road.
Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?
Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.
It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.
Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.
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.