With arbitration hearings on the horizon, it seems that the two greediest players are also two of the most rotund. Fangraphs is reporting that Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard are, respectively, asking for $2 million and $4 million above what their clubs are offering. Howard set a record last year by increasing his salary eleven times over via arbitration and is seeking $18 million for 2009, while Fielder is looking for a mere $8 million. So, are they worth it?
Ask Mark Attanasio and the answer would be a big fat no. The Brewers owner famously called for a salary cap and would do anything to curb player salaries to help his small market team compete. Fangraphs says that Fielder would be worth about $16 million on the open market, but the point today is that (a) there's an economic crisis! and (b) he's not on the open market.
Sure, we got rid of the reserve clause in 1975, but baseball owners still exercise control over players for the first few years of their major league careers. So the $6 million might be a mere pittance compared to Mark Teixeira's $20 million salary but Prince is entering just his 4th full season in 2009. That cash is enough to cover his Tofutti Cutie bill at least until he's free-agent eligible in a couple years.
So what does the typical fan think of the arbitration dickering? We turn to the typical Phillies blogger, Enrico from the 700 Level, who shares his opinion in a takedown of columnist Phil Sheridan:
I don't think we really care at all about what Ryan Howard makes this season. We simply care more about the Phillies putting the best available players out on the field. If they give RyHo that extra four million, it likely means them being more frugal in other areas.
Way to support your World Effing Champions, Enrico.
(Photo kindly provided free of charge via Flickr user Rich Anderson)