As society shuts down for the MLB Winter Meetings from December 4-8, we are all metaphorically starving for news - unlike our families, who are literally starving as we sacrifice paychecks for Phillies roster updates.
"Please," beg our children, who are now British street urchins for some reason. "Just a spot 'o gruel to tide us over."
"You will get nothing until a deal is made," we growl back, also now British.
It's good news for made-up 19th-century children everywhere, then, as the Phillies have signed reliever Joaquin Benoit.
After a full night of muttering that the deal was being done, the Phillies have reportedly pulled the trigger, striking a $7.5 million, one-year accord that will give them options beyond those we grew sick of seeing in 2016. Benoit is a 38-year-old veteran who, since making his disastrous debut in 2001, has appeared in every MLB season except for 2009, when he was recovering from surgery to fix his ripped rotator cuff. His career numbers - 3.79 ERA, 2.44 SO/W, 1.232 WHIP, 17.7 WAR - show a talented hurler who has served in several late-inning roles (He had a 1.34 ERA in 63 appearances with the Rays in 2010, dang).
Benoit’s most recent season, split almost perfectly between the Mariners and, after a trade deadline deal for Drew Storen, the Blue Jays, was far more pleasant on the back-end. Playoff-bound Toronto got their money’s worth, as Benoit appeared in 25 games, threw 23.2 innings of relief, and allowed only a single earned run (a farewell solo shot by David Ortiz in mid-September), nine walks, and 24 strikeouts. This, compared to the 5.18 ERA he put up with Seattle, must have been a wondrous surprise to the Jays, until September 26.
The result of the questionable scrappiness of a Toronto squad headed to the post season was the loss of Benoit, one of their most effective pitchers, to a torn calf muscle as he rushed out of the pen to help beat up the Yankees. Dumb. In any case, Benoit was lost for the rest of season.
As we publish or exit interviews for the 2016 season here on The Good Phight, we find ourselves repeating a lot of negative trends among the Phillies’ lesser bullpen arms - your Michael Mariot’s, Colton Murray’s, Dalier Hinjosa’s, etc. A profoundly veteran presence out there coming off of a stellar half-season of playoff-pushing (followed by an unfortunate muscle tear) could do well as the Phillies try to stabilize a wobbly bullpen and a young roster - the 2016 Phillies bullpen's ERA for September-October, 7.88, was over two points higher than the second worst (the Rockies, at 5.68).
And now back to your far more important off-season matters.
.@mike_valori I don't know, but I'm about to say Come to Papa to a chicken parm sandwich— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) December 3, 2016