A large and enthusiastic group of forty baseball fans gathered on Monday, January 21, 2020, for the monthly meeting of the Larry Dierker Chapter at the Spaghetti Western restaurant in Houston, Texas. Several guests and a new member, Richard Lowery, were in attendance.
Chapter chair Bob Dorrill reviewed the participation in this year’s Astros Fanfest on Saturday, January 19 at Minute Maid Park. Several staffed the booth to introduce our SABR chapter to many of the 10,000 attendees. Copies of our book on the history of baseball in Houston were sold and many, many baseball cards were given to visiting children. Sixteen prospective members were identified from those who stopped by to learn about our activities.
Bob also reported that longtime member and former Major Leaguer Larry Miggins, age 94, has been in the hospital with some serious problems. Jo Russell, also a longtime member, has moved to an Assisted Living location and was unable to attend but sent her warm wishes to all.
The featured activity of the evening consisted of two mock arbitration exercises involving current Houston Astros players. Former MLB executive and arbitrator Tal Smith had presented information on the process at our November meeting and he acted as Arbitrator at this session.
In the first presentation, player George Springer was represented by Mike McCroskey, Dick Bily, Carl Ingrum, Wesley Story, Robert Beck, and Tom Plemons. They sought a 2020 salary of $24 million. The Astros, in this case, were represented by Greg Lucas, Bill Brown, Marsha Franty, and Gary Schulte. They were asking for a salary of $18.5 million. Both sides offered analyses of Springer’s performance based on his statistics and on comparison with other outfielders. After the initial presentations (20 minutes per side) and the rebuttals (10 minutes per side), Tal Smith offered specific opinions regarding how each side had presented its case. His decision in Springer’s case was for the player.
In the second presentation, Roberto Osuna was represented by Scott McKay, John Lloyd, Sam Quintero, Joe Thompson, and Mike Vance. They were seeking a 2020 salary of $12.5 million. The Astros were represented by Bob Dorrill, Bob McCann, Larry Dierker, and Tony Cavender. Their 2020 salary offer was $9 million. After each side presented its statistical analysis of Osuna’s career, his importance as a closer, and his status as a member of the team, rebuttals were put forth. Tal once again critiqued the work of both sides, delineating both strong and weak points. In this case, his decision was for the Club.
We were very fortunate to have had Tal’s participation in this exercise. His considerable experience on both sides of the table and his thoughtful analyses were very enlightening. Those attending learned a great deal about this business aspect of the game. All agreed that they would be interested in doing this project again, but that it would be preferable to move it back to the last few months of the year, before any players settled prior to arbitration.
The next chapter meeting will be Monday, February 17 at 7:00 p.m. at the Spaghetti Western on Shepherd Drive.
— Marsha Franty