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Bud’s blue ribbon Oakland A’s committee had a “secret meeting” with Oakland officials

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I guess it’s not fair to say that the committee Bud Selig put on the Oakland A’s-to-San Jose case three years ago is doing nothing. Because they’re apparently having cloak and dagger meetings with Oakland officials in an effort to come up with some alternative to Lew Wolff’s designs on the south bay:

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig’s blue-ribbon committee snuck into town Wednesday for a top secret meeting with East Bay officials and boosters at a downtown Oakland law office to discuss a new plan for an A’s waterfront ballpark …

… For months, [Oakland mayor Jean] Quan and company have been publicly touting the idea of building the new ballpark next to the Oakland Coliseum as part of a huge sports, housing and retail complex. But this meeting focused on a waterfront ballpark – most likely at Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland.

I’ll defer to APBA Guy or other bay area people who follow this more closely, but I had always been of the impression that the various Oakland plans that have been tossed around over the years are more pie-in-the-sky things. Mostly because (a) the Oakland economy is awful; (b) there is zero appetite for public dollars to be spent on ballparks in the bay area; and (c) A’s owner Lew Wolff has no desire to explore the possibilities at all.

But hey, at least Bud’s committee actually did something. And now they can turn in expense reports and everything like they’re a real working entity and stuff.

UPDATE: Rhamesis Muncada (a.k.a. Marine Layer) at his website, newballpark.org, has a take that sounds about right:

“The cynic in me looks at this trip with a simple explanation. Summer owners’ meetings are scheduled for next week, and while there will be more pressing matters on the agenda (Padres sale, national TV deals, Nats-O’s-MASN deal) it’s expected that there will be some sort of update on the A’s-Giants ongoing saga. What better way to look like you’re doing something than to have a couple of meetings right before the owners’ sessions? It seems unlikely that Selig will be able to render a decision or bring up a vote based on whatever new information was gathered based on the trip since it’s so fresh, so it’s just one more opportunity to kick the can down the road…”

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)
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.

Report: The new collective bargaining agreement reduces players’ meal money

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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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.