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Wednesday, February 10, 2010
First Salary Arbitration Hearing Set For Tomorrow
It appears that the first salary arbitration hearing of the year will take place tomorrow between Corey Hart and the Milwaukee Brewers. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Adam McCalvy, the Brewers’ MLB.com contributing writer, have both been covering the Hart negotiations. Both writers reported that chief negotiator Teddy Werner imposed a January 29 deadline on Hart’s agent Jeff Berry of Creative Artists Agency (CAA). The deadline passed without a settlement, so both sides have headed to Florida for the hearing. Werner and Assistant General Manager Gord Ash worked on the negotiations with Berry. Although they will both attend the hearing, the case will be presented by the New York law firm that they hired. Without a settlement, this will be the Brewers first hearing in twelve years.
The Brewers have only four previous hearings in their history marking them as one of the teams with the lowest total appearances. They have won two and lost two. The most recent hearing was in 1998 with Jose Mercedes. Mercedes won his arbitration decision before a panel of Roger Abrams, Jerome Ross, and Gil Vernon. Mercedes requested $1,050,000 and the Brewers offered $615,000. The other player to win a decision against the Brewers was Tim Johnson in 1978. Johnson received his figure of $92,500 instead of the Brewers offer of $62,000. J. Fred Holly was the arbitrator.
Mike Fetters lost to the Brewers in 1994, and he ended up with $400,000. Fetters had requested $825,000, but arbitrator Howard Block sided with Milwaukee. Jim Gantner lost his argument in front of Daniel Collins in 1991. The exchanged figures were $1,000,000 by the Brewers and $2,000,000 by Gantner.
Hart settled last season with the Brewers just before his hearing for the midpoint figure of $3,250,000. The Brewers offered $2,700,000, and Hart was seeking $3,800,000. In 2008, Hart earned $444,000. His salary in 2007 was $395,000, a raise from the $329,500 figure he received in 2006. He was drafted in the eleventh round in 2000.
In 2006, Hart played in 87 games for the Brewers with a .283 batting average, 9 home runs, and 33 RBIs. He became a regular the following season while slamming 24 home runs, knocking in 81, and batting .295. He also scored 86 runs while hitting 33 doubles. During his 2008 season, Hart’s totals in batting average (.268) and home runs (20) dropped off, but he did improve his RBI totals (91) and doubles (45) while participating in 157 games. He was also selected for the National League All Star team. Based on the solid back-to-back performances, Hart saw his salary increase substantially because of his initial eligibility for salary arbitration. However, in 2009, Hart lost time due to a midyear appendectomy. In 115 games, Hart’s batting average dropped to .260 although his on-base percentage of .335 was a solid improvement over his 2008 figure of .300. His power numbers of 24 doubles and 12 home runs were below his 2007-2008 totals while his RBIs fell to 48. His six season totals for stolen bases are 64, but he has been caught 28 times.
If there is a hearing tomorrow, I will post an analysis of Hart’s case based on my research and the contributions of Notre Dame law students.