Robinson Cano is back in the Mariners’ starting lineup tonight after missing the past four games with a stomach virus followed by a bruised hand. And what do you know? They’re playing the Yankees, in New York.
Cano’s lack of power has drawn some headlines two months into a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Mariners, but looking beyond his two home runs he’s hit .327 with a .371 on-base percentage. Combined during his final five seasons with the Yankees he hit .314 with a .369 on-base percentage.
One interesting note about Cano’s four-game absence: Seattle initially turned to last year’s starting second baseman, Nick Franklin, to fill in, but then went with veteran utility man Willie Bloomquist for the past two games. Franklin has hit just .128 with an ugly 21/3 K/BB ratio since being called up from Triple-A.
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.