The MLBPA Player’s Choice Awards aren’t as big a deal as the BBWAA awards, but they’re not nothing. The players certainly think they’re significant as anyone who is awarded something by their peers is likely to feel. Justin Verlander certainly feels that way, as his comments after being awarded the MLBPA’s Player of the Year award last night make clear.
What interests me is whether this award is a harbinger of Verlander winning the MVP.
In the 13 years the Player of the Year Award has existed, the players voted for a guy who went on to win the MVP award six times, with all six of them coming in the last ten years. The players, like the BBWAA, are likewise not crazy about voting for pitchers, having given the Player of the Year award to a pitcher only once: 1999 to Pedro Martinez. Martinez should have won the MVP that year too, but that’s another rant.
Another potential harbinger is the Sporting News Player of the Year award, which Verlander also won this year. In the past ten years, the winner of that award has gone to be win the MVP award seven times. And again, the award is not handed out willy-nilly to pitchers, so the fact that Verlander won it is somewhat significant.
Obviously anything can happen with this stuff and obviously we won’t know for sure who wins the MVP award for a couple of weeks. But I can’t shake the notion, based on how the season ended — Boston flaming out and Jose Bautista’s second half being somewhat less-electrifying than his first — and based on the sentiment from the non-BBWAA award givers, that Verlander is gonna take home the hardware everyone cares about.
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.