When Mets fans heard that Oliver Perez was getting rocked in the Mexican Winter League, they were cautiously optimistic that it would cause the team to finally part ways with the guy. I mean, if you can’t make it in Culiacan,* how are you supposed to handle the Big Apple?
But now it seems that things aren’t so cut and dry. Perez has thrown 10 consecutive scoreless innings and a source tells Adam Rubin that Perez is touching the low 90s on the radar gun:
“Early velocities were 87-89, occasional 90 — all out of the pen. Starting velocities have the consistent 88, but spikes are higher and more common — 91s and occasional 92s.”
I’ll believe that Perez is useful when I see it (could that be in k.p.h.?), but a successful conclusion to his winter league season would certainly make for a fun Mets spring training, no?
*Culiacan: where dreams go to die. It was 1991, and a middleweight boxer from my hometown of Beckley, West Virginia by the name of Tommy Small was knocking guys out all over Appalachia. Occasionally he made it to the big venues like Satchmo’s Night Club in Akron. That spring he stood at a gaudy 23-3 record and was ready for the big time. He got his shot: a fight with Julio Cesar Chavez. The champ. A man who, around that time, was considered to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. The location: Culiacan.
It was short-lived excitement. Chavez made minced meat out of Small who, in reality, was merely a glorified sparring partner for the champ. My boss — who had been drinking tequila from the Wednesday he arrived until the time he called in with his last update from the fight — portrayed it was an epic battle, in which “our local boy may have lost, but he got the champ’s attention.” My guess is that he didn’t even get the champ to sweat, but it was probably the greatest moment in Beckley, West Virginia boxing history.
Well, unless you count the time Mr. T. was the referee for the Tough Man Competition at the Raleigh County Armory. That was pretty bitchin’ actually. There was foxy boxing and everything.
There’s something interesting deep in Ken Rosenthal’s latest notes column. It’s about arbitration, with Rosenthal reporting that the players union believes that all 30 teams will take a “file-and-trial” approach to arbitration this winter.
If you’re unfamiliar with this, it breaks down thusly:
- In mid-January, teams and players who are eligible for arbitration will exchange proposed salary figures. The player says what he thinks he’s worth based on comparable players of his quality and service time and the team will propose a lower counter-figure;
- Generally, the parties then use these proposals as negotiable figures and eventually reach a compromise deal, usually near the midpoint between the two figures, avoiding arbitration;
- If a deal cannot be reached, they go to an arbitration hearing and arbitrators pick one of the numbers. They CANNOT give a compromise award. It’s either the higher player’s number or the lower team number.
In the past, a handful of teams — most typically the Blue Jays, Braves, Marlins, Rays, and White Sox — employed a “file- and-trial” approach, meaning that they treated the figure exchange date as a hard deadline after which they refused to negotiate and stood content to go to a hearing. As more teams have adopted this approach, there have been more arbitration hearings. As Rosenthal notes, last year there were more hearings than in any offseason for the past 25 years. Now, the union thinks, every team will do this. If they do, obviously, there will be even more hearings.
There is certainly an advantage to file-and-trial for a team. It makes the player and the agent work harder and earlier in order to be prepared to negotiate with the club before the file deadline. It also makes them work a lot harder to come up with a defensible filing number given that, rather than merely being an opening salvo in an extended negotiation, it’s something that they will certainly have to defend in open court. It’s also simple hardball. Teams have greater resources than the players and the agents and it’s less painful for them to pay for lawyers and hearing prep and to conduct the actual hearing. There’s risk to the team, of course — they might lose and pay more than a settlement would’ve cost — but teams are obviously concluding that the risk is worth it.
The only question I have is, if the union is right and all 30 teams will now proceed this way, how was that decided? Everyone suddenly, after several decades of arbitration, simply decided to take the same approach? Or was there, I dunno, a meeting in which the strategy was coordinated? Inquiring minds want to know!