Although the official deadline for settling prior to arbitration is February 1, the Astros Organization informed Jose Valverde and Mark Loretta (and their agents) that their deadline would be this morning. Neither would settle, so unless they decide to agree on figures this next week, off they go.
The owners have been beating the players pretty solidly in the few cases these days in which they can’t settle before the deadline. Clubs have been pretty careful to not antagonize their good young players who they would like to keep, which is a pretty good idea. I can’t imagine how it could NOT lead to hostilities, a ballplayer having to sit and listen to the Organization giving all the reasons why they think he sucks and is not worth the money.
However, Loretta is a utility guy, a long time veteran, and he has been around the block and back, and by this time, he knows that it really is ONLY all about the benjamins, so it would be pretty hard to upset/shock him. Besides, if he decides to go elsewhere next year, well, there are plenty of utility infielders around. The Stros want to pay him 2.15 mill (as far as I know, without incentives), a salary CUT of 300K from last year’ base salary, which, in my opinion, is pretty obnoxious. He is asking for 4.9 mill, a 1.4 mill raise from his earnings of 3.5 mill last year. He had 508 PA over 133 games with a line of .287/.352/.372/.724 – 23 doubles, 2 triples, 4 homers, 41 RBI, 15 GIDP -89 OPS +, (-)7 RCAA. And, of course, a lead glove.
Valverde, in his second arb year, is asking for 6.2 mill, a 4.2 mill raise over his salary last year. The Astros are offering 4.7 mill. He certainly had a good year LAST year, but he was sent down for poor performance just the year before. He did lead the NL with 47 saves – and he ALSO had 7 Blown Saves (a fact that somehow escapes Astros fans who hate Brad Lidge and think we are getting Gagne 04.) It will be very interesting to see who wins THAT one.
I can’t see how the Astros could justify a salary CUT for Loretta, so I would guess that Loretta will win. And I would guess that Valverde would point to the salaries given to closers, but seeing as how he has been a solid closer for exactly ONE year, and was shaky his previous years (a fact that also has seemed to escape Astros fans, who only will look at stats from the previous year) I would guess that the Astros are going to win that one.
But then again, I’m no lawyer/arbitrator, so we’ll just have to see what happens.
In other news, the Dominican government is offering to help Tejada. Isn’t THAT interesting…