Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has been generally against expanded instant replay because, in his words, it could open up a “pandora’s box.” But he has changed his mind on that as of Saturday night.
That game ended on a blown call in which Joey Votto was pulled off the first base bag on a throw yet Carlos Beltran was called out anyway. The replays were clear, the umpire missed it and instead of the bases being loaded for a Matt Holliday vs. Aroldis Chapman showdown everyone walked to the clubhouse. Yesterday he told Mike Bauman of MLB.com that he has finally come around and that replay is both necessary and inevitable:
“You just want the right thing to happen … You’ve got a chance before you guys walk into your locker room to get together and try to figure out the right thing. The system isn’t allowing it. I’ve always been kind of, ‘I don’t know,’ [on expanded replay] … But to get something, moving forward, for a play like that, it dictates a game. And I think you’ve seen enough of them this year. Major League Baseball would probably say we’ve seen too many of them. I think it’s one of those years when the writing is on the wall.”
I know people like to say that there is room for disagreement on replay. And, yes, I will grant that implementation of any new program will have its challenges. But there is no excuse not to get the calls right. There is no objection to instant replay which is as compelling as the argument that the proper calls need to be made.
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.