Today is Ryan Howard’s arbitration case. Will he get $7MM, as the Phillies want, will he get $10MM, as he wants, or will there be a last-minute deal?
UPDATE (10:45 a.m. Thursday): Howard wins.
Looks like the arbitrators were more impressed with Howard and his 2.5 great years as a Phillie. He’ll make $10MM in 2008. Asst. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. thought the sides were close to a new deal. Amaro:
“Close doesn’t get it done.”
UPDATE (4:50 p.m.): We have a quote from Ryan Howard, per Zolecki:
“We’ll see tomorrow. I’m always upbeat, you’d think I’d be anything different? Regardless, we went in, we had a process and we find out tomorrow how it goes. But either way, it is what it is.”
UPDATE (3:25 p.m.): The hearing has ended.
Phillies rep Tal Smith:
“To me it’s nothing more than a continuation of the debate the parties had during negotiations. The only difference [is that] you are presenting your argument to an arbitrator, an impartial panel. I don’t think there’s anything that’s denigrating or demeaning at all.”
No word yet from Howard.
UPDATE (10:15 a.m.): Some reading for you:
Bill Conlin outlines five reasons Ryan Howard will or will not win his case. Most of the reasons are disposable, including “he’ll dress well.” Really, Bill, it comes down to this:
– Short service time, setting a precedent
– One of the league’s most dangerous ever players.
Just fill the column inches, Bill, fill the column inches.
Jim Salisbury, on the other hand, takes a well-versed look at the arbitration hearing process, saying that flat out, the goal is to be $1 above or below the median $8.5 MM.
Michael Radano of the Courier Post had what seemed to be a great talk with Howard, as he said he was in “the chill mode” entering the hearing.
Howard isn’t thinking much about the hearing; instead, he wants to be MVP again.
“That’s who I aspire to be this year. I aspire to be young James. I’m going to go out and try to buy his shoes if they are in a store. I want to be like Jimmy.”
“Young James” is Jimmy Rollins, obviously. We should start calling him Young James.
The hearing has begun.
Arbitration still a foreign language? Here is a link to my post earlier in the month that explained the arbitration process.
My two cents: It’s best to let Howard hang on for another year with the short stick. Yes, Howard is a mammoth slugger, but say you’ve owned an iPod for two years. Yeah, it’s cool, and it’s been great to you. You also know next year you’ll be getting a nice tax return. But you decide to stick with the iPod for a while, shunning the new, versatile technology of the iPhone and any other innovation Apple creates in the next few years. Maybe the iPod will work and be fine for the next few years, but chances are it will become obselete soon, and you’ll wish you had that iPhone.
What does that metaphor have to do with Howard, you ask? Well, Howard could very well be a 35+ HR hitter for the next five, six years, and he could also hit .280 or so during that period. But we all know Howard is made from the Cecil Fielder mold, a mold that quickly becomes a designated hitter and 1 1/2-dimensional offensive player. Yes, Howard is a threat to all pitchers today, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be a threat five years down the road.
Let Howard prove himself once more. There’s no need to rush now. And heck, if Howard wins arbitration (which I don’t think will happen), collect yourself, congratulate him and move on. Let him prove he’s worth $18MM per year or whatever he’s looking for long-term.
Because maybe, sooner than later, that iPod will burn out on you. And you don’t want to go years without a solution.
We’ll have updates as soon as they come.