I’ve said it before, but one of the best things about Peter Gammons is how he’ll be writing about topic A and then, in the course of it, he’ll drop some background factoid that completely blows your mind.
The best thing is that he doesn’t do it in a way that screams “check out this scoop!” It’s so casual, as if everyone knew it already and he’s just giving it voice. I really love it. Draws you inside in a way that those dudes who do backflips to show you just how inside they are can never touch.
He did it again today in his column about Theo Epstein’s departure from Boston. Lots of conventional state-of-the-team stuff and then this:
There was a burnout factor in Epstein’s desire to leave, which he was going to do regardless after the 2012 season. It was as if he were stuck on an elevator between the ninth and 10th floors. His wife, Marie, and son, Jack, could not live normal lives. There often was an unmarked Brookline police cruiser at the end of his street because of a stalker and concerns about the family privacy.
I had never heard this before, that’s for sure. Not that anyone would publicize it, of course. But man, that’s just nuts. The GM of a team gets a stalker? A baseball team? Unbelievable.
People need help out there. There are nuts walking the streets all the time and we don’t realize that there are as many as there are.
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.