Jeff Pearlman has a great, in-depth interview with former Dodgers general manager Fred Claire. He talks about coming up with the Dodgers, the firing of Al Campanis which led to Claire taking over, talks about whether Tommy Lasorda is, in fact, a big phony, and muses about how the Dodgers got it so wrong on Darryl Strawberry.
But the best part of it is when he talks about the trade of Mike Piazza. The trade that he had nothing to do with because it was ordered from on-high by Fox executives who had recently taken ownership of the team:
It changed the history because it was the first time the Dodgers had made a trade without the general manager—the man in charge of baseball operations—being involved in a trade. It was a trade made by a Fox television executive for television reasons. Let that one soak in. The Dodgers make a major trade for reasons other than baseball reasons.
He goes on beyond that, but really, the whole interview is fantastic. Check it out.
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.