Posted by Steve
Man alive, do I hate the way baseball players are evaluated by those who matter. I should have known better yesterday when I said Corey Hart would lose his case, but I didn’t–I was absolutely shocked to see he somehow managed to win.
I have no idea what Hart’s team could have said to make an *actual* case, but it’s likely that the case they made featured the following two arguments.
1. Hart is a former All-Star
2. A comparable player who is also in his second year of arbitration, Jeff Francoeur, was given $5 million to avoid an arbitration hearing.
The first point is asinine and shouldn’t matter at all. The fact that two years ago Hart made the All-Star team should not trump the fact that he’s been a bad baseball player since he made the team–that’s a year and a half of poor production.
The second point, which I had not realized until today, bothers me even more. My original, and probably melodramatic title to this post was ‘Jeff Francoeur is the root of all baseball evil,’ but that was probably a bit harsh. Still, Jeff Francoeur is terrible. Just God-awful. His career on-base percentage is .311. That’s poor for a catcher, much less a freaking corner outfielder. His career walk rate is 4.7%! Because no pitcher needs to throw him a strike, watching him hit is a comedy (unless he’s on your team; then it’s a tragedy). Swinging at everything, missing sliders by a mile, never drawing walks. You’re thinking, ‘Ooh! Ooh! That’s Corey Hart!’ It’s actually Francoeur. He out-Harts Corey Hart by a mile. Corey Hart wears Jeff Francoeur sunglasses at night. Googling ‘Jeff Francoeur hacker’ actually yields 241,000 hits. The proudest moment of his career should be being the answer to the question, “Who graces the cover of the most wrong Sports Illustrated issue of all time?”
Should I go on?
Alright, I will. That this man’s representatives convinced a GENERAL MANAGER OF A MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAM to give him FIVE MILLION U.S. DOLLARS for this next season is the biggest upset since this guy pulled this off. Francoeur’s agent should be named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year. Francoeur is a replacement level player! He probably shouldn’t even be in the Major Leagues! Yet because Omar Minaya was somehow duped into giving him this outrageous salary, it helps Corey Hart win his case. Infuriating.
(As an aside, this is why I’m currently so down on the business side of the game. Teams cite their budget as reasons they can’t hire as many baseball ops employees, but then they go and give out deals like this one. You’re willing to burn up 5 million dollars (“burn up 5 million dollars” is the unofficial term for “pay Jeff Francoeur anything to play baseball”), but you won’t pay 25 grand to qualified people from BIS or anywhere else who are willing to bust their asses working for you? You know what, Omar? If you paid me 25 grand to come work for you, I could come up with some great research that says DON’T PAY JEFF FRANCOEUR FIVE MILLION DOLLARS, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! (Jeff Francoeur is so terrible that he has now caused me to break my capslock and parentheses keys.))
Back to my original point, before I forget what it even was. This is annoying. 700k isn’t a ton in baseball terms, but it can be the difference between being able to add a player down the stretch or not. I’m not at all mad at Hart for wanting more money. Good for him; obviously he knew what he was doing. I’m just baffled that people could be legally convinced that he was deserving of this raise.
Anyway, this is a small blip. If Hart doesn’t earn this money, it really doesn’t matter, because he certainly won’t be tendered a contract next year when he’ll be due over $6 million. He’s the one person with reasonable room to improve, and therefore he’s an important part of the offense this season. The Brewers need him to perform, and if he does, this will all be forgotten.