For a while, a few years ago, there were some people who talked about Leo Mazzone being the first pitching coach to be elected to the Hall of Fame. The fever broke after he left Atlanta to take the Orioles’ job after the 2005 season and found little success. Most folks realize now that, while he was a good pitching coach, having the best pitching staff in the past 30 years or so helps a lot too. Dave Duncan is now your Hall of Fame candidate in that world.
Mazzone hasn’t worked as a pitching coach since the end of the 2007 season. It’s not clear why. Maybe he hasn’t been offered anything that sounds good to him. Maybe people in the game don’t like him or give Bobby Cox more credit for whatever the Braves staff did than Mazzone. There are a million possible explanations.
One other explanation: Mazzone is not too plugged-in to the network of major league baseball and thus doesn’t have anyone advocating for him. I mean, why else would he approach the Phillies like this:
You don’t get jobs in baseball based on public pleas. You get them because you’re either a hot property or because you know someone who will go to bat for you. I get the feeling that neither of those descriptions fit Mazzone at this point in his career.
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.