Cubs Not Thrilled with Ryan Theriot

The Chicago Cubs and Ryan Theriot appear headed for arbitration. The two sides have not budged on the numbers submitted last month. Theriot submitted a $3.4 million figure and the Cubs offered $2.6 million. Ryan Theriot is not backing down.

According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs “are not thrilled about the direction this arbitration has taken.” The Cubs feel Theriot and his agent could have avoided arbitration weeks ago. As reported, the Cubs have not been to an arbitration hearing with a player since Mark Grace in 1993 … for the record, the Cubs won.

An arbitration hearing is a lose-lose proposition for both sides.

From the Sun-Times, “Ryan Theriot will sit across the table from Jim Hendry as a team representative tries to convince a three-member panel Theriot’s not as valuable as he thinks he is.”

Here is the latest from Bruce Levine and the rumor mill, notes from interviews on XM Radio with Ron Santo and Gary Hughes and an explanation of the arbitration process …

With not posting an update on Tuesday, there is a lot to catch-up on …

Chatting with Bruce Levine

The always-informative Bruce Levine held his weekly chat Tuesday on ESPN Chicago. Here are the highlights:

  • Adam Kennedy has been on the Cubs’ radar for a while … money is the issue.
  • The Cubs do not have the money to trade for Heath Bell.
  • Luke Gregerson is still an option.
  • Chad Tracy, Micah Hoffpauir and Kevin Millar will compete for one of two possible spots on the Cubs’ bench.
  • “The Cubs are tapped-out moneywise. Trades are the only thing they can do at this point.”
  • Starlin Castro is going to get a shot to make the big league club in Spring Training.
  • Oneri Fleita told Bruce Levine, “They don’t believe in trying to protect young players from advancing. It’s going to be up to Piniella and his staff to find out if Castro is ready.”
  • Ryan Theriot will move to second base if Castro is ready for the majors.
  • Ryan Theriot is the Cubs’ second baseman of the future. The Cubs have a lot of good middle-infield talent coming through the system.
  • Theriot told Levine at the convention, if Castro is ready he would move to second base.
  • Keep an eye on Starlin Castro, Jeff Samardzija and Andrew Cashner this spring.
  • Cashner could be a late-season addition to the Cubs … possibly in the pen.
  • Andrew Cashner could switch to the backend of the pen if Carlos Marmol struggles and Angel Guzman is traded. Levine said for now the Cubs are leaving Cashner as a starter.
  • The Cubs will be cautious with Ted Lilly.
  • It will be impossible for the Cubs to trade Alfonso Soriano and his contract before the trading deadline in July.
  • Sam Fuld is projected to make the team out of Spring Training.
  • Chad Tracy and Kevin Millar could make the team but the Cubs need speed and if both make the team Fuld could be the odd man out.
  • Scouts in the Padres organization really like Angel Guzman and feel he could (if not now) be a closer … which could allow them to trade Heath Bell.
  • A deal for Luke Gregerson could end up costing Angel Guzman.

Ron Santo on XM Radio

Ron Santo joined Kevin Kennedy and Casey Stern Monday afternoon on XM Radio. Santo sounded a little tired but pretty good after missing the Cubs Convention in January. Santo, as always, is ready for Spring Training to begin.

Santo feels the Cubs’ biggest problem in 2009 was all of the injuries, especially to key players. Santo pointed out Aramis Ramirez and every starter in the rotation missed at least a month.

Carlos Zambrano, Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano had terrible years … and then there was Milton Bradley. Santo chalked up 2009 as not a good year all the way around, mostly due to injuries.

The Cubs needed a centerfielder according to Santo. He likes the addition of Marlon Byrd. Santo explained that Kosuke Fukudome is not a centerfielder; he is a right fielder. The Cubs will be better defensively with Byrd in center and Fukudome in right.

Jim Hendry is not done yet,” according to Santo. He feels Hendry still has additions to make to the roster. Santo said he has a feeling the Cubs fifth starter could come from the minor league system.

Milton Bradley was brought up again … Santo explained that Bradley’s biggest problem was the big market that is Chicago. Then he got on the wrong side of the fans with his comments (Santo mentioned the nine-inning comment Bradley made about the length of the games at Wrigley).

Gary Hughes on XM Radio

Gary Hughes (Special Assistant to Jim Hendry) joined Seth Everett and Jim Duquette during Power Alley (XM Radio) on Tuesday morning.

Hughes was asked about Milton Bradley at the top of the interview. Hughes moved on rather quickly by saying team chemistry should be better this season.

Gary Hughes thinks Kevin Millar will help with chemistry in the Cubs’ clubhouse. Hughes got Millar his first job in pro-ball in the Independent League with St. Paul.

The addition of Marlon Byrd should help the Cubs, especially defensively. Hughes pointed out that the addition of Byrd allows Kosuke Fukudome to move back to right field. Hughes added that Fukudome has the tools to play center but like Ichiro he prefers right field.

Xavier Nady will be competition for all three outfielders. Lou Piniella will play the three outfielders that are producing the most according to Hughes.

Jeff Samardzija, Tom Gorzelanny, Sean Marshall and Carlos Silva will compete for the final two spots in the rotation. With Ted Lilly out, the Cubs have two spots to fill. Hughes stated that no one has the inside track on the two available spots.

The Cubs are expecting Ted Lilly back as soon as possible. They are not going to push him. Hughes said, “If you know Lilly he will be back sooner rather than later.”

Hughes was asked about the Cubs’ struggles last season. He said, “It is unfair to blame it all on Milton Bradley.” Guys are getting paid to do a job … they have to their job. The Cubs are hoping (banking) on certain players producing better in 2010.

Gary Hughes said the Cubs might be adding a right-handed reliever to the mix in the pen. Carlos Marmol wants to be the closer and the Cubs believe he is ready. Hughes pointed out, it is up to Carlos Marmol to show he is ready to be a big league closer. Marmol is one of the keys to the Cubs having a successful season.

Other News, Rumors and Tidbits

The Arbitration Process

Here are a few paragraphs from an article on Baseball Prospectus (January 2005) that explains the arbitration process.

“The process is what is known as “Final Offer Arbitration” (though in the world of alternative dispute resolution it is now becoming known simply as “Baseball Arbitration”). In mid-January, each side to the dispute submits a salary figure to a panel of independent arbitrators. After a few hours of hearings, held in early February, the arbitrators pick one figure or the other. The arbitrator cannot “split the baby” and settle on a salary in the middle of the spread between the club’s figure and the player’s. One side leaves the arbitration a winner and the other a loser, heightening risk and encouraging negotiation and settlement.

This is the critical element of baseball arbitration: it is designed to produce a settlement, not a verdict.”

“The hearings take place during the first three weeks of February. Once the 16 arbitrators have been selected, the next important task is for the Players Association and the Labor Relations Department of MLB, Inc. to schedule arbitrators for specific hearings on specific days. Ninety percent of this scheduling is done according to logistical concerns, but occasionally there is a bit of gamesmanship involved. Neither the Players Association nor the Labor Relations Department want market-setting cases to be scheduled early in the three-week hearing period. For example, if a young pitcher receives a huge victory early in February, the award could impact the hearings of other young pitchers later in the month. For this reason, MLB and the Players Association are careful to plan out the hearing schedule so that the other side has no potential advantage. Often this means that very similar players have their hearings scheduled for the same day.”

“The club and player submit their “last best offer” for a salary ahead of time to the Labor Relations Department and the Players Association respectively. On “exchange day,” representatives from both sides meet in New York and exchange figures one by one. Hearings are arranged in neutral cities by mutual assent (the CBA directs Los Angeles, Phoenix and Tampa/Orlando to be preferred sites). Typically the hearing takes place in a hotel conference room.

The technical procedure is simple. The player and club supply the arbitrator with a Uniform Player Contract (in duplicate) that has been properly completed except for the salary figure. Each side gets one hour to present its case. There is a short recess and then each side gets 30 minutes to rebut the other side’s case and 30 minutes to present their summation. By tradition, the order of presentations is Player-Club-Player-Club-Player-Club, which gives the club the last word in each phase. Occasionally the player’s representative will successfully move to have the order reversed. Some agents feel that even if this motion is unsuccessful it may stand as a helpful symbol to the arbitrators that the club has a unfair advantage in the hearing.

Within 24 hours of the end of the hearing the panel chief informs the Players Association and the Labor Relations Department of MLB of the final decision, providing additional time for a settlement. The panel does not submit an opinion explaining their decision; it does not explain why they chose one salary figure over the other. The panel chair is also directed not to inform either party of the actual vote of panel members (3-0, 2-1, who voted for whom?). That information is communicated to the Players Association and the Labor Relations Department on March 15th following the hearings and is used by the two sides to help them craft arbitrator slates for the next year. Baseball arbitration is considered a pretty good gig for professional arbitrators. Some observers cynically note that to keep the job you can’t side consistently with one side or the other, lest the other group nix you from the job in future seasons.”

The following evidence is admissable:

1. The quality of the player’s contribution to his club during the past season (including but not limited to his overall performance, special qualities of leadership and public appeal).

2. The length and consistency of his career contribution.

3. The record of the player’s past compensation.

4. Comparative baseball salaries (the arbitration panel is provided with a table of confidential baseball salaries for all players broken down by years of service).

5. The existence of any physical or mental defects on the part of the player.

6. The recent performance of the club, including but not limited to his league standing and attendance.

Well, that’s the latest … and I am sticking to it!

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