John Lackey has never exactly been Mr. Endearing when he’s opined to the media. He showed why that is again after Saturday’s loss to the Orioles in which he surrendered nine runs on 13 hits over five innings. The right-hander allowed three home runs, including one to 28-year-old rookie catcher Caleb Joseph. It was Joseph’s fifth consecutive game with a home run, and his blast went a reported 383 out to left-center at Camden Yards.
After the game, Lackey called Joseph’s long ball a “Baltimore home run”, as MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports. Ostensibly, Lackey means that Camden Yards’ dimensions favor hitters — and it does, but that is hardly an excuse for his performance. According to Statcorner.com, Camden Yards is very slightly above-average for right-handed hitters when it comes to hitting home runs. The park plays much better for left-handed hitters to hit home runs.
The Cardinals picked up the hot-tempered Lackey along with minor league pitcher Corey Littrell at the trade deadline from the Red Sox in exchange for outfielder Allen Craig and pitcher Joe Kelly. In 23 starts overall this season, Lackey has a 3.98 ERA with a 123/34 K/BB ratio in 149 1/3 innings.
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.