The baseball world is buzzing this week with arbitration talk and World Baseball Classic roster announcements.
Firstly, Tuesday was the day when players and teams exchange dollar numbers for arbitration. Reportedly, Ryan Howard is asking for $18 million, while the Phillies offered $14 million. So, if the two sides reach an arbitration hearing again this year, Howard would, at least, get a 40% raise. Wouldn't we all like to be guaranteed a 40% pay increase this year?
While MVP-runner up Howard stayed headed toward arbitration, Ryan Madson, Joe Blanton and Shane Victorino have all come to terms with the Phillies on new contracts. Madson's deal is worth $12 million, with incentives, over 3 years. Shane's deal is for one year, and is for $3.125 million. Big Joe's contract is also a 1-year deal, worth $5.4 million.
The remaining Phillies still up for arbitration, aside from Howard, are Jayson Werth and Chad Durbin. Werth is said to have requested $4 million, while the team offered $3 million. Durbin's figures are said to be $1.95 requested by the player/$1.35 offered by the team.
The most pleasing WBC news is that JC Romero will pitch for Puerto Rico. Romero, suspended from MLB for the first 50 games of the season, is allowed to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, since he has not violated any rules for international baseball.
Team USA- Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins
Team Canada- Matt Stairs
Team Italy- Mike Spidale
Team Venezuela- Carlos Carrasco
Team Dominican Republic- Ronny Paulino
Team Panama- Carlos Ruiz
Team Australia- Brad Harman, Joel Naughton
Also, Team USA will have Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt on its coaching staff.
Phormer Phillies popping up on rosters...
Italy- Sal Fasano, Little Nicky Punto, Mike Costanzo, Val Pascucci
Canada- Rheal Cormier
Mexico- Rod Barajas
Venezuela- Bob Abreu, Carlos Silva, Endy Chavez
Panama- Bruce Chen
Netherlands- Randall "The Sausage Beater" Simon
It's easy to say that I am getting quite excited for baseball in 2009. Ruben Jr. is doing his best to retain the right pieces of the championship puzzle, and is on the road to redeeming himself for letting Pat Burrell leave for a fraction of what he gave Raul Ibanez. And even though the DR team looks like it will mash all the competition, the WBC should provide some solid games and kick off the year properly, by stirring up interest in the sport.
**Update...Durbin and Werth have signed contracts. Ryan Howard is alone.