Alex Speier has a great interview up with Theo Epstein over at WEEI today. In it Epstein talks candidly about what went wrong towards the end in Boston. Specifically, how a team that was built into a success with player development and home grown talent got into the business of signing people like John Lackey and Carl Crawford to mega deals.
Espstein says that success builds a “new baseline” and that they were always trying to do more. Which, in turn, caused the team — and he includes himself and everyone in the organization — to lose its way and forget its principles:
“Had we been completely true to our baseball philosophy that we set out and believed in and followed, we probably wouldn’t have made certain moves that we made anyway, moves that, as I look back on them, they were probably moves too much of convenience, of placating elements that shouldn’t have been important,” said Epstein. “Those were my mistakes, and because of that the last couple of years weren’t as successful as the previous seven or so.”
Great interview, not just for what Epstein says, but for how Speier describes and characterizes them. He’s one of the best in the business.
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.