Lee Elia Cubs

Happy 30th anniversary, Lee Elia rant

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For the second week in a row we have an anniversary of a manager meltdown. Last week was Hal McRae, this week: Lee Elia. Who as Cubs manager in 1983 had what, for my money, is the absolute greatest manager meltdown of all time. This is better than McRrae. Better than Tommy Lasorda’s “what did you think of Dave Kingman’s performance” rant.  This one is the Gold Effing Standard.

And it’s the “effing” which is why. Never has a manager ever rattled off a more profane rant on tape. At least a tape that saw the light of day.  It’s such a fantastic blue streak that I don’t DARE embed it. If you want to hear it — and I am not lying, it’s about 200 F-bombs in a row, directed at Cubs fans — Google “Lee Elia rant” and listed to the first result. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle attempted to type out a sanitized version of it. He got one paragraph in before it, presumably, became too tiresome to insert the “bleeping” parts.

“I’ll tell you one (bleeping) thing, I hope we get (bleeping) hotter than (bleep) just to stuff it up them 3,000 (bleeping) people that show up every (bleeping) day, because if they’re the real Chicago (bleeping) fans, they can kiss my (bleeping) ass right downtown. And print it. They’re really, really behind you around here, my (bleeping) ass.”

Is it a coincidence that both the McRae and Elia rants happened around late April?  People ask all the time when to stop taking small sample sizes and early season results so seriously. I usually say sometime between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. But given the tension here, maybe managers start feeling it in late April. Dunno.

UPDATE: Holy moly! You can buy the Elia rant, printed out, in handsome Cubs red and blue.

Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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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.

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)
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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.