Jay Bruce’s burden is about to get lighter with Joey Votto expected to rejoin Cincinnati’s lineup Wednesday. Not that it’s bothered him so far.
Bruce hit a two-run homer that gave the Reds’ their only runs Tuesday in a 2-1 win over the Phillies.
It was Bruce’s third straight game with a homer. He’s hit .345 with 10 homers and 24 RBI in 22 games since Aug. 12, with the Votto-less Reds going 14-8 in that span.
Bruce is hardly a realistic MVP candidate with his .261 average and .340 OBP, but he’s been a consistent force in the middle of the Reds lineup for the first time this year. Last season, he busted out by hitting .342 with 12 homers and 33 RBI in May, but he didn’t hit better than .256 or post an OPS over .825 in any other month. This year, his worst OPS in a month is .755.
Barring an injury, Bruce will establish new career highs in both homers and RBI in a fourth straight season this year. He’s currently at 31 homers and 91 RBI after finishing last year with 32 homers and 97 RBI.
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.