Add Mike Trout to the growing Get Tough crowd among major league ballplayers. He was on the Boomer and Carton show today and said:
“I think MLB is definitely moving in the right direction with getting these guys. For me personally, I think you should be out of the game if you get caught. It takes away from the guys that are working hard every day and doing it all-natural. Some people are just trying to find that extra edge.”
He’s not the first player to say such a thing. He may be the best to have said it. And it’s just further evidence that we’re going to see players be receptive to any league overtures about toughening up the PED penalties, possibly as soon as this winter.
As for how that ultimately goes? As we’ve noted several times around these parts, it’s one thing to say “let’s get tough.” It’s another thing altogether to put a plan in place that is fair and won’t lead to guys losing their careers or contracts over false positives, inadvertent ingestion of banned substances and the like. And if you do build safeguards against such things into the system, you may be altering the overall framework significantly, from one of zero tolerance and automatic suspensions to one in which every positive test leads to, in effect, a fully-litigated court case.
Which, sure, if that’s the system they want, that’s the system they can create. But I do think their answers about that would be very different if asked in a meeting in which actual plans were on the table vs. being asked in a talk radio context where the overall assumption is that everyone agrees at the outset and no one poses the tough questions and hypotheticals to the players.
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.