Bud Selig

A-Rod is going to try to put bud Selig and Randy Levine on the stand, but don’t count on it happening

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Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports that, when the arbitration resumes next week, Alex Rodiguez’s lawyers are going to try to put Bud Selig and Yankees president Randy Levine on the stand. MLB would probably fight that, though:

MLB would try to block most of the bold-name witnesses from having to testify, particularly Selig. It would contend MLB COO Rob Manfred, who is MLB’s representative on the three-person panel overseeing the hearing, spoke on behalf of the league and its investigation and subjected himself to cross-examination by Rodriguez’s attorney, Joseph Tacopina.

Like any other case, the decision should come down to whether or not Selig and Levine have relevant evidence. In a legal context, though, relevant doesn’t mean “interesting” or “headline grabbing.” It means evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.

I seriously question whether Selig has any relevant evidence to provide. He’s the boss, sure, but that doesn’t mean he has actual specific information that cannot be better obtained from other witnesses, such as Rob Manfred or MLB investigators. Bud puts things in motion. Other people do the work and they report it back to him. Anything he has that relates specifically to the drugs Alex Rodriguez took or didn’t take and the Biogenesis investigation in general was told to him.

Of course A-Rod is trying to put MLB on trial here. He’s trying to argue that the whole investigation was cooked up as a means of Selig doing P.R. damage control or saving his legacy or what have you and that, as a result, he should get to grill Selig about it all. Same with Levine and the Yankees trying to end his career and save millions. We’ve heard A-Rod’s attorneys argue this in public before.

And there may be elements of truth to that. I personally think that, even though Biogenesis and A-Rod’s drug use wasn’t “cooked up” by Selig, he’s certainly trying to take advantage of it as a means of putting an end to the PED saga. And I am certain that the Yankees would love to be out from under A-Rod’s contract.  But I seriously doubt that the arbitrator is going to let A-Rod try that case. That’s one for the historians and, if we really stretch things, a federal court to later weigh in on in the event such motives caused MLB and the Yankees to violate A-Rod’s rights. It’s not what this arbitration is about. Or at least what it should be about.

Upshot: don’t bank on Selig getting cross-examined.

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)
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.

Report: The new collective bargaining agreement reduces players’ meal money

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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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.