The Cory Lidle wrongful death trial begins today

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Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle died when the plane he was piloting crashed into a Manhattan building on October 11, 2006. Today opening statements in the wrongful death case brought by his widow will take place.

The FAA concluded that the crash was pilot errors and that Lidle who was flying with his instructor, misjudged a turn.  The lawsuit contends, however, that the plane had a defective control system. The defendant is the plane’s manufacturer, Cirrus Design Corp..

Of baseball note: Jason Giambi is on the witness list. He and two other players — Aaron Rowand and Mike Lieberthal — have been put up to testify about Lidle’s “style and abilities as a major-league pitcher.”  This is presumably for the damages phase of the case, assuming it gets there.

I can’t really see how their testimony would be useful, however. If the idea is to establish what kind of money Lidle could have made in his career had he not died, there are no shortage of agents, scouts, executives and economists who could talk about that more comprehensively and succinctly than Giambi, Lieberthal and Rowand could.  My guess is that the plaintiffs would like to have some personable baseball stars with some relationship with Lidle to talk about him in more human terms. If Giambi’s testimony is allowed, he will have only one less high profile trial under his belt this month than he has hits this season.

I have no idea if there is merit to Ms. Lidle’s case. Whenever a wrongful death case comes up, however, I feel compelled to link this, which is my emotional response to all wrongful death suits, whether righteous or not.  It’s a view at which I arrived after a decade’s worth of defending wrongful death suits. I don’t claim that it’s unbiased (like I said, it’s emotional). Short version: people shouldn’t hesitate to bring such suits if there is merit to them. But under no circumstances should they expect them to bring closure or peace, if such things even exist after heart-wrenching tragedy.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.