As production companies scramble to submit films before the deadline for Award-Season consideration, major league baseball teams rush to finalize deals before their yearly bottom lines fall subject to the decision of an arbitrator. These legal whizzes hear organizational cases on a players’ worth and rebuttals by the players’ agents countering with intangible contributions of their client. Deals are made to avoid this process in the interest of paying less than what an arbiter would decide (team), making more than said decision (player), or saving face (both). I’m including long term deals in ‘saving face’ as once the wheels of arbitration are rolling, there is very clearly a disconnect between the team and the player. Or perhaps not a disconnect, but certainly a disagreement. The Astros have successfully avoided arbitration with three players expected to play very large rolls for the 2011 club. So it’s good to know Clint Barmes, Jeff Keppinger, and Michael Bourn will all be around the upcoming season; and all at reasonable prices.
Barmes was the first to sign with a one year, $3,925,000 deal. Barmes will man shortstop on a daily basis for the 2011 Astros who had a huge void at the position last year. GM Ed Wade remedied this by trading likely 5th starter Felipe Paulino to the Rockies for Clint Barmes.
The Astros team leader for 2010 in batting average (.288) and OBP (.351) will also return for 2011 although in a reserve role. Jeff Keppinger signed a one year, $2.3 million deal.
Michael Bourn has also avoided arbitration and earned a significant raise over 2010’s salary of $2.4 million as he’ll make $4.4 million in 2011. Bourn has won the golden glove in center field the past 2 seasons and led all of baseball in UZR this past year.
If you listen to season projections, 2011 will be a rough year for the Houston Astros. Whether they finish first, last, or anywhere in-between it would assuredly have been worse without the three aforementioned contracts on the books. And who’s to say the Astros can’t surprise everybody? Stranger things have happened. After witnessing The Social Network win the Golden Globe for Best Picture over Inception, Black Swan, and The King’s Speech I’m convinced anything can happen.*
*I’ve yet to see The Fighter and I feel The American deserves an honorable mention as I thought that was a fantastic film.