Be forewarned: none of what you are about to read will stop the earth on its axis. At the very least, though, it will give you something to do at work other than, well, work.
1) The Phillies have indeed reached an agreement on a minor league deal with lefty Dan Meyer, a Kingsway High product who had a solid 2009 campaign for the Marlins before spending most of last season in the minors. Meyer, who will be 29 next season, pitched in 71 games in 2009, posting a 3.09 KERA, 8.6 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9. He battled a calf injury early last season, but recovered to pitch well at Triple-A New Orleans, where he posted a 3.38 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 32 appearances.
Meyer will participate in big league spring training, where he will attempt to earn a spot in the Phillies bullpen, which continues to seek re-inforcements this offseason.
Asked if Meyer had a chance to earn a spot on the active roster, assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said, "If he goes back to performing the way he did in '09, absolutely."
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the signing "does not preclude" the Phillies from adding a lefty on a major league deal.
2) One sign the Phillies might be better off biding their time in the hunt for relief pitching? The Tigers today agreed to a three-year, $16.5 million contract with righthander Joaquin Benoit. The deal is bigger than any deal signed by a major league free agent reliever last offseason, and it was signed by a player who just completed his first year back from shoulder surgery. If Benoit reproduces his 2010 season in each of his next three seasons, the deal will be a tremendous bargain. After all, the 32-year-old righty posted a 1.34 ERA, 11.2 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 63 appearances for the Rays. He pitched on back-to-back days 19 times, allowing just one run and four extra base hits with 21 strikeouts and 3 walks in those situations. Of coure, that is a big if.
The biggest deal by a big league free agent last season was the three-year, $15 million pact between Brandon Lyon and the Astros.
The prevailing opinion here at the general managers meetings is that there is a strong possibility of some quality relief bargains being available in January.
3) Club president David Montgomery arrived in Orlando today. Amaro re-iterated that he has not been given a firm payroll budget number by Montgomery. The Phillies payroll has grown steadily over the last several seasons, peaking at between $136 and $138 million last Opening Day. The Phillies still have plenty of room before they reach the luxury tax threshold of $178 million, after which they would be taxed at 22.5 percent. Still, Amaro dampened expectations for a huge increase in spending.
"I just don't know if we can generate enough revenue to get (to the luxury tax threshold)," he said. "I don't know if we are physically able to, as an organization, generate that kind of revenue. I mean, we're maxed out as far as our ability to put people in the ballpark. What were we, at 103 percent capacity this year? Just silly numbers. That's not going to go up very much. And even though the ticket numbers went up very, very modestly, I don't know how much that accounts for how much our payroll seems to be continuing to increase."