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Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Management Moves to 5-0 in Hearings With Houston Win Over Loretta

The Houston Astros won their second hearing in five days by defeating Mark Loretta in salary arbitration today. The owners now hold a spotless 5-0 record against the players this year, and they could easily win the final three cases. Regardless of those results, the win against Loretta means that management now has a twelve year winning streak. In 1996, the players won 7 of the 10 hearings. With the total of all hearings since 1974 moving up to 481, management has a 58% winning percentage (278 management victories, 203 player victories).

Loretta will be paid $2,750,000 rather than the $4,900,000 he requested.

His case was heard Monday by arbitrators Margaret Brogan, Stephen Goldberg, and Fredric Horowitz. Brogan’s panel record is now 3-2 in favor of the team. Goldberg’s third hearing this year pushes his panel and individual record to 24-16 in favor of the team. Horowitz was a first-time baseball salary arbitrator according to my spreadsheet.

My prediction record this year has dropped to 3-2. Loretta’s case with the Astros was challenging because of the large gap. The panel might have been bothered by Loretta’s number plus his projection as a back-up player. His highest previous salary was $5,000,000 in 2002 for the Brewers. If the arbitrators felt that Loretta was really going to be a utility infielder this year, I can see how the Houston number made sense to them. However, with his incentives last year pushing his salary to $3,500,000, the decision amounts to a pay cut. In fact, the Houston offer matches his 2005 salary with the Padres.


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