Arbitration, That Goofy Game for Dopey Lawyers

Well, after the long dark winter off-season, it is time for the long dark pre-spring training ritual of arbitration hearings. As nearly everyone knows, I am not much of an arbitration fan. It seems counter-productive for a player to sit down with an owner and air their grievances towards each other in hopes of gouging the other party with regards to salary. The team representative will come into the meeting wanting everyone to know how poorly the player has done and try to justify why they should have to pay the player anything near fair market value. The player on the other hand will come into the meeting trying to tout every statistic that has been accumulated about their performance to show how valuable they are and why they should be paid double what a player deserves. This typically ends up causing the relationship between a player and the team to become strained. The first case of the season belonged to non other former Arizona Diamondback Travis Lee. Travis again struggled last season spending part of the time in Tucson trying to work through yet another batting slump before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. Once there, he continued to struggle ending the year with a .235 batting average which is well below the league average for a first baseman. To further alienate management, Travis also declined to play winter ball saying he would rather spend time with his friends and family than further develop his baseball skills. Now, here he is, claiming he should be making $1.6 million per season, a $1.1 million raise from his $500,000 salary of last year. The Phillies, not known for their financial prowess anyway, offered Travis $800,000. For the life of me, I cannot imagine why you would reward a player an additional $300,000 for playing well below their potential. But this is the same team who felt that Jose Mesa and Ricky Bottalico were the best available relief pitchers and is shelling out somewhere around $6 this season for them. As luck would have it, the arbitration panel seems to have some shred of decency and turned down Lee’s request. He will have to scrimp and get by on $800,000 this season, poor kid.


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