CASTRO ANGELOS

MLB is looking into Ozzie’s comments? How intellectually inconsistent of them.

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According to Buster Olney, Major League Baseball is now “reviewing the Ozzie Guillen situation.”  Hurm.

While I disagree with it all, I at least understand where the local outrage in Miami is coming from. While I would hope that it all blows over, I get that whatever happens it will be the local dynamics — put in motion by the community, the local politicians and the Miami Marlins brass — that are going to determine how it all plays out.

But MLB’s official involvement is another thing altogether and should be viewed even more skeptically in this instance. No, not because it has no business in policing players’ and managers’ speech — it has done that in the past, most notably in the John Rocker case — but because it doesn’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to being outraged at pro-Castro sentiment.

Remember when Peter Angelos did this?

source: AP

That was from back in 1999, when the Orioles went down to Havana and played the Cuban national team in an exhibition. A move which did far more to bolster and support Fidel Castro than anything Ozzie Guillen said. This is especially true when, later, Angelos went on record saying that he would never sign a Cuban refugee ballplayer. Rather than simply admire Castro’s ability to not be assassinated, Angelos took it upon himself to enforce a key part of Fidel Castro’s policy and propaganda apparatus on our very shores.

At the time — and to this day, I presume — the Cuban-American community was outraged at Angelos and MLB for making this trip. The “I won’t sign Cuban ballpayers” thing led to even more anger.  Yet Major League Baseball didn’t feel the need to “review the Peter Angelos situation.”  MLB was part of it.

All of which shows quite clearly that, to MLB, this is about public relations and damage control, not about the substance of what Ozzie Guillen said or the anger felt by people in Miami. If Guillen’s comments — or worse comments by anyone — were ignored, the league wouldn’t care.  If this continues to be a big deal, the league will throw Guillen aside with a quickness.

In response to which many would say “hey, MLB has to protect its brand.”  And in response to which I would say, hey, I wish our institutions — and I consider Major League Baseball an institution — actually stood for someone other than its bottom line an public image on occasion.

Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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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.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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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.