Lineups for Game 5 at Busch Stadium …
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
2B Dustin Pedroia
1B David Ortiz
LF Jonny Gomes
RF Daniel Nava
3B Xander Bogaerts
SS Stephen Drew
C David Ross
SP Jon Lester
Shane Victorino is out of the lineup again with a back injury, so Daniel Nava replaces him in right field and Jonny Gomes plays left field while batting cleanup versus a right-handed pitcher. As expected David Ortiz remains at first base and David Ross gets the nod behind the plate over Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
2B Matt Carpenter
CF Shane Robinson
LF Matt Holliday
RF Carlos Beltran
C Yadier Molina
1B Allen Craig
3B David Freese
SS Pete Kozma
SP Adam Wainwright
UPDATE: Allen Craig initially was not in the lineup, but the Cardinals made a last-minute change to insert him at first base and in the sixth spot instead of Matt Adams. It’ll be interesting to see just how hobbled he is, because it couldn’t have looked good as of just a few hours ago.
Shane Robinson again replaces Jon Jay versus a left-hander and moves up in the order to the No. 2 spot, with Carlos Beltran sliding into a middle-of-the-order role as Matheny shakes things up.
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.