The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Upon Further Review

In a rather unexpected development, it was announced today that World Series MVP Josh Beckett received a 20% pay CUT from his 2003 salary. Granted, Beckett was one of the highest paid players last year for his service time and he's a career .500 pitcher (17-17) but he's the reigning World Series MVP. Seems to me like the Marlins are playing with fire in terms of keeping Beckett happy for when he is eligible for free agency. It's a ways away to be sure (and if the stadium doesn't come to be maybe it's a non issue since the Marlins might cease to exist in their present state - literally and figuratively - anyway) but still doesn't seem to be the smartest way to treat arguably one of the top five pitching prospects under 25. Even if you think he's not one of the top 5, he's the best with a World Series ring and MVP trophy.

The Marlins also revealed (although without any details, leading me to wonder how valid/true this all is) that Willis and Cabrera did not receive more significant raises for the 2004 season because of the "bonus program" the club has in place to reward players before their arbitration eligibility days (for those of you who don't remember the Marlins circa 1998 through 2000 these high performing young guys and their contract renewals are not something new). Although voting share information wasn't released, I would expect that Willis and Cabrera received full playoff shares (these are determined by voting of the players). It's expected that those checks will total $300,000 or so - which would be more than what either player earned in major league salary last year (although $300,000 is the MLB minimum, neither Willis nor Cabrera had a full year of major league service last season). How much the bonus plan was worth, I have no idea, but I highly, highly doubt that Dontrelle Willis received a check worth anywhere near $1,300,000 from the Marlins at any point.

Can't wait to see how this plays out in terms of ill will with the Marlins once these guys are eligible for free agency. I suppose Luis Castillo came up through the system and decided to stay once he was free to leave (even turning down a larger offer from the Mets apparently). But AJ Burnett was not only over-pitched to the point of requiring Tommy John surgery, he was also taken through an acrimonious arbitration process prior to the 2003 season after being the staff's ace in 2002. Think he'll want to stay around? How about Willis, Cabrera, and Beckett after a few more years of not having their voices heard by the team in terms of contracts?

Time will tell I suppose.


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