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And Then There Was One
by Derek Smart
It looked like the Cubs' Magical Mystical Hearing Free Streak was going to come to an end tomorrow with the club and Will Ohman going toe to toe in Florida, but not only did they avoid such an unsavory confrontation by reaching agreement with Ohman today, they managed to obviate the need for a Juan Pierre hearing as well, leaving only Carlos Zambrano to be dealt with.
The piece on Cubs.com doesn't give financial terms as I'm writing this (although I imagine the link will be updated with that information later), but Rotoworld.com has Ohman coming in at $610K, and Pierre at $5.75M, Juan's being the exact halfway point between the two submitted figures, and Will's leaning closer to the $500K the team offered rather than the $775K he requested.
Some might find the Cubs' willingness to go to a hearing over such a small amount of money in Ohman's case to be a little strange, but articles in the Sun-Times and Daily Herald this morning actually shed some light on the subject, the gist of which being that while Ohman performed very well last year, a great deal of the service time he accumulated to be at the point where he could go to arb in the first place was spent on the DL.
In other words, while Ohman technically has the service time and is therefore entitled to something more, giving him over twice the salary of someone like Michael Wuertz, who has both stayed healthy and thrown nearly twice as many Major League innings in a shorter window of opportunity, seems kinda unfair.
You know what? I'll buy it. Hendry and Co. have been nothing if not generous toward the bullpen and bench guys (see: Perez, Neifi! or Blanco, Henry or Eyre, Scott or Dempster, Ryan or Howry, Bobby or Macias, Jose or Mabry, John, etc, etc, etc.), so I doubt they'd engage in this kind of brinksmanship over $30K or so (I'm assuming here that an early offer to split the difference gets the job done).
I have to believe the primary motivator was some iteration of the principle of fairness I outlined above, and while I'm happy the parties never reached the confrontational stage of the process, as far as I'm concerned, the club had good reason to stick to its guns.
Now, if the team can get a nice, tasty, long term deal done with Big Z, I'll be as happy as I can get with the current state of things. Not that I'll actually be happy, mind you.