It’s Always the Quiet Ones

“You’re sort of playing poker now.”
That’s what Doug Melvin said, after not being able to reach agreement with two of his players before Friday’s deadline to submit figures for arbitration. So the Brewers’ brass has to do battle with two of their players and their greedy, money grubbing agents…er, sort of. Of course, Melvin and the Brewers can always reach agreement with their two ingrates going for as much money as they can prior to reaching a hearing…so who are these two hotheads getting their first taste of negotiating with the big boys, and getting to play hardball (pun intended) for the first time?
Dave Bush and J.J. Hardy.
Dave Bush and J.J. Hardy?
Yup. Hard to believe, I know. Some of us old-timers, myself included, believe that it is the loudmouth, obnoxious types that always force contract negotiations, the Gary Sheffield and Johnny Estrada types. But, with the old adage, “baseball is still a business,” J.J and Bushy are doing what they gotta do.
Both in their first year of arbitration eligibility, Hardy submitted a salary request of $3.05 million, while Dave Bush wants $3.00 million himself. The Brewers think Hardy is worth only $2.4 million, while Bush should only be paid $2.25 million…er, sort of.
See, while both figures could wind up being the actual contract amount if the negotiations reach the arbitration hearing, more often than not the two sides settle for a figure in between the two numbers. In fact, Doug Melvin has never gotten to where he needed to go to an arbitration hearing. In McCalvy’s write-up, Melvin states that he would if he has to–part of his “poker” strategy–but everyone at the table has seen this tell before.
In case anyone cares, my opinion–first, the most shocking aspect to the whole article is that Melvin claims that they are not negotiating a multi-year deal with Hardy. I think this is also part of his negotiations, but, again, rather transparent–who else are the Brewers going to have play shortstop?–plus, the Crew does not risk losing Hardy until after the 2010 season. Hardy will be around for the next couple of years, so Melvin, apparently, prefers to keep it a year-to-year thing…enabling Hardy to cash in next year if he can carry his numbers from the first half of the ’07 season throughout the entire ’08 campaign. Hardy made the frikkin’ All-Star team last year…but many people consider that a moot point, in lieu of Hardy’s drop off in the second half (the now 25 year-old had OBP’s of .345, .355, and .319 from April to June, respectively, before going .283, .312, and .314 in July through September, respectively…not to mention the 18 HR’s before the All-Star break versus just 8 afterwards).
Also, both are a bit higher than what I was thinking…I was thinking Hardy would wind up with around $2.25 million, and Bush closer to $1.85 million…but I am glad to see both are going to make more, as they certainly were worth more than the paltry wages they were paid last year.
Lastly, the Bush figures could greatly reduce his trade value–Bush is now guaranteed at least $2.25 million, an amount too rich for many teams for a 28 year-old whose 5.12 ERA last season went in the wrong direction. The Brewers, who could very likely send Bush to the pen or even Nashville, have no need to lock up Bush past the 2008 season…but might be convinced to offer Bush incentives or a club option to make his contract more palatable to other teams, e.g. on top of his $2.25 million base, he could earn $150,000 plus get a player option for $2.5 million for ’09 if he pitches 75 innings or more in ’08. Bush, too, is playing poker, knowing quite well that he could get dealt or stuck in the bullpen, and not even be offered arbitration for next season. Well, nice to see he’ll wind up a millionaire regardless of what happens to him.

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