The story of Davey Johnson’s career: he wins baseball games like crazy but then he is either forced out of by management before he’s ready to go, after which said team suddenly starts losing lots of baseball games.
In light of that, you’d think the Nats would maybe, you know, not want history to repeat itself. But they seem to think they’ll avoid what happened to the Mets, Orioles, Reds and Dodgers after Johnson was kicked to the curb. Here’s his response to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post when the idea of this being his last season as Nats manager is brought up:
“I don’t like that,” Johnson said one warm afternoon this spring, spitting tobacco juice inside the dugout at the Atlanta Braves’ spring training stadium. “That sounds like finality. Obviously, it’s my last year managing the Washington Nationals. The Nationals are more comfortable with that than me, because I don’t really go to that point. I think you basically work till you die.”
And, reading the rest of Kilgore’s piece, you definitely get the sense that his players love him.
Will yet another team cut bait on Davey when everything is going so well on the field? Are the Nationals really convinced that they’ll do better than everyone else who has gone that route in the past?
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.
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.