Waiting for Opening Day, Arbitration Wrap

Playing the Waiting Game

With the roster set and Spring Training underway but with no games of even minor significance going on at the moment, it's impossible for me not to be a little anxious for the start of baseball. You see, I'm a huge fan of two things: roster building and actual baseball. And this 3-6 week period between the end of arbitration hearings and baseball with any predictive value (last week or two of Spring Training) is my least favorite time of the baseball year. Only the possibility of an "out of options" trade such as the one the Rockies made to acquire Jason Hammel from the Rays last year is keeping me sane. Fortunately, the Rockies don't really appear to possess any meaningful holes on their roster that would predicate such a transaction--one of the few clubs in baseball that can say this.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the Rockies have the best roster from 1-25 in the National League considering their depth, youth, and proven production. Sure, getting Felipe Lopez for $2 million as the Cardinals did recently would have been nice, but the Rockies are already going to be great (yes, great) this year. The starting rotation is deep and talented, the bullpen is full of live arms with great depth waiting in the wings, the outfield is good now but is brimming with potential  greatness, everyone in the infield possesses 20 HR power, and the bench provides Jim Tracy with a great deal of flexibility offensively and defensively. Even in case of injury (because admittedly Colorado was pretty fortunate in that department last season), the Rockies have multiple alternatives ready to slide in to the lineup or rotation and provide solid production.

I guess what I'm saying is that I have never (and this includes the 2008 season following the magic of Rocktober) approached an upcoming Rockies season with so much optimism and expectations. This is why the wait for the 2010 season to start has been so interminably slow for me. As the snow melts outside my window, I wait for spring and baseball.

Arbitration Wrap

But while I do that, I may as well make a couple of notes about the close of the roster building period. After a record year for MLB revenues ($6.6 billion in 2009, with $433 million of that revenue shared), the 128 arbitration eligible players this offseason received nearly $650 million in salary for 2010, a 107% increase on average from their 2009 salaries. This number represents a decline from last year's 172% average increase in salary, but is still a remarkable figure. As I wrote two weeks ago, the Rockies gave their ten arbitration eligible players a 131% average raise from 2009, an increase of about $12.4 million in payroll additions.

In all, only eight players actually went to arbitration hearings with their clubs, with the clubs "winning" 5 and the players taking 3. Arbitration superstar Maury Brown wrote about the winners and losers of salary arbitration, but left unsaid was the point that clubs usually lose even when they win in arbitration with young players. As I've said before, some reform to baseball's economic model is probably necessary.

Here is a breakdown on the 2010 arbitration season in tabular form, courtesy of Brown:

1-Yr Deals

109

2-Yr Deals

11

3-Yr Deals

5

4-Yr Deals

1

5-Yr Deals

2

Multi-Yrs (TOTAL)

19

TOTAL FILINGS

128

TOTAL SALARY

$648,762,502

Avg. By Deals ('10)

$5,068,457.05

Avg (2010 only)

$2,746,582

2009 Salary Arb $

$298,891,250

2009 TOTAL Salary Arb $

$580,816,250

Avg (2009 only)

$2,692,713.96

Avg. By Deals ('09)

$5,232,578.83

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