Sunday, February 17, 2008

Well, It's all about business

I am not a big fan of "It's all about business" approach because of my Taiwanese culture. We are human being with heart. As a sport fan, the reason I love my team and my players because I passionate about them from my heart. I still can't act that way. I think this is a lesson I probably never get high score on. This is the lesson I probably need to learn if I want to have a successful career as a film producer.

At the beginning, I thought the reason Wang ends up with arbitration hearing is Wang's agent(Camp) insisting on not splitting difference. As thing turn out, I am wrong about that, This is the quote from Brain Cashman,

“There was no reason to go higher than four,” Cashman said. “Settling at the midpoint because of an inflated file number would have made no sense.”(New York Times)

This is the reaction from Wang's agent Alan Nero,

“The disappointment here is the Yankees made little or no effort to settle. We move on and now it’s time to play baseball.”(New York Times)

As you guys know, I am against going into arbitration hearing. If you haven't read them, there are two links for that. Before I talk about my feeling and reactions for this whole arbitration hearing, I am going to tell you guys what both sides debated about, what Wang feel, what reactions from Taiwanese media and fans during the whole arbitration hearing.

What Yankees said

ERA is too high. Get hurt too many times. Strikeout rate is too low. Wang won that many games because of Yankees' excellent defense and offense. The main point? Two terrible playoff games against Indian last year.

This is my o.s. for what Yankees said

ERA is too high(It's not low for sure, but is it really high for AL East pitcher). Get hurt too many times(Who doesn't get hurt as a pitcher). Strikeout rate is too low(Wang goes to get your strikeouts and who cares how many innings you pitch). Wang won that many games because of Yankees' excellent defense and offense(Why not every Yankees pitchers get 19 wins two years in a row). The main point? Two terrible playoff games against Indian last year(Of course, no doubt, he is terrible and I am upset about his performance too, but Yankees has to have a chance to fail).

What Wang's agent said

Consistency throughout his career as far. Bring a lot of Asian markets and fan bases on the table. Win a lot of games for Yankees

How and What Wang Feel during the whole process

Wang said He kept waiting a clear answer from Yankees the whole off-season and decided to wait until camp. He keep waiting until the last minute and realize Yankees are not interested in signing him long-term deal and doesn't budge from their offer as well. That's why he ends up with arbitration hearing. Why not just give up? Wang said he wants to know what Yankees think about him and how much he need to improve from Yankees' standpoint, especially what they think about his failure of last year playoff.

The whole arbitration hearing is like a meeting, unlike a court. It lasts 4.5 hours. Each side has one hour to express their arguments, 30 minutes to answer questions from other side and 5 minutes to make a conclusion. Wang feel tired after that and prefer to play ball on the field.

It's great learning experience for him. The outcome is not bad at all because at least I have a contract which let me keep playing baseball. It's also not bad to hear which areas he need to improve. Of course, he doesn't feel good to hear what Yankees said, but He tries to treat what Yankees said as advices. He understands almost everything what Yankees said.

Wang said he know his strikeout rate is too low since he uses his sinker too much. When he was asked by Taiwanese media if he feel hurt when Yankees mention his playoff failure again during arbitration hearing, He pauses a few seconds and said:"Of course, a little bit. I keep thinking how to improve that after playoff" A lot of Taiwanese reporters all mention one thing in their articles, they feel Wang care about that, try to forget about that and feel upset when they mention his playoff failures every time.

He is happy it's over and feel excited at new season. He will do his best to pitch better and hope he doesn't have to go into arbitration hearing again. Unfortunately for Wang, this probably won't be the last time. According to his agent Alan Nero told to Taiwanese media at a media conference, he said:" It's good for Wang to get used to this process as early as possible because the next three years before reaching free agency he has to go through this process every year.

Alan Nero also said:"Wang shows me a lot of courage and trust me during the whole process, I don't think there will have any negative affects on Wang because he is a smart person with stable personality and understand it's business."

Taiwanese fans and media reactions

A lot of Taiwanese fans love Yankees and wish us to do well because of Wang. Taiwanese fans are upset about this for sure, but they feel fine because Wang feel fine, especially Wang, Taiwanese fans and media all expect 3~4 million from the beginning.

The reason Yankees go into arbitration hearing from Taiwanese media perspectives is Wang isn't special from Yankees' standpoint because they have a lot of pitchers on their farm system. Unlike Cano. Yankees don't have too many position players in the farm.


Alan Nero said the most comparable case for Wang is Dontrelle Willis. Nero also thinks Wang is better than Dontrelle Willis. He think Wang's value worth 5 million, but he know he won't get that. That's why they put up 4.6 million figure because he think Yankees will negotiate to settle at the mid-point. Nero said he will accept 4.3 million if Yankees offer this figure, but they hold their line firm. During the negotiation, Yankees starts at 3.6 million and Nero starts at 5 million.

I know a lot of fans mention Dontrelle Willis(4.35 million for 2006) and Scott Kazmir(3.8 million for 2008) as example why Wang shouldn't get more than them. I am not a big stat person. You guys probably can find out all stats to prove it. I will just say what I saw and what I feel.

First of all, they weren't pitching for contenders. Their records didn't effect their teams' chances to make the playoff no matter how good they pitch. You can say all you want about Wang, but Yankees may not make the playoff without Wang from 2005~2007.

They also pitch for small market teams with lower expectation and payroll. They didn't have tons of expectation and pressure from fans and media about winning. I think expectation and pressure carry big weight on players.

Secondly, Dontrelles Willis pitched for Marlins which is NL team with big ballpark and Scott Kazmir didn't pitch more innings than Wang for past two years. Keep in mind Wang has comparable number with them under those circumstances. Don't get me wrong. I am not saying Wang is perfect and he is better than Dontrelles Willis and Scott Kazmir for sure, but don't tell me Wang's not worthy for Yankees at least to split difference and show appreciation.

My feeling and reactions?

Are you kidding me? Why waste a lot of time and efforts for 0.3 million to risk the chances may hurt Wang's feeling? Well, obviously, Yankees don't think so and probably don't care. It's all about business and why pay more if you don't have to. How about Cano? Well, Yankees feel they may need to pay more in the future. For Wang? Well, He will be there anyway if all young pitchers Yankees have in the farm don't pan out as expected.

I have to confess this. It's very hard for me to stay unbiased about Wang even though I am a long time Yankees fan. The most upset part of this whole process for me is why not just pay 0.3 million to avoid arbitration hearing and show some appreciation, not about long-term contract, especially when you consider this sentence may come out,

"However, if Wang gets off to a slow start, he can expect to hear that as the reason(about losing arbitration hearing)."(From NY Post)

Does Wang want to go into arbitration hearing?No. Do this cause a distraction when Wang gets off to a slow start and then media come up with this sentence? Yes.(The same probably goes with Pettitte's HGH case). Not to mention we may already hurt Wang's feeling, added more pressure on Wang and reminded him how bad he is during the whole arbitration hearing. Sure, You can say if he can't deal with, he is not the player we are looking for. But, why increase that chances or create more distractions when you can avoid.

The things I care

You know what. The most thing I care after reading all news from Taiwanese and American media about this whole arbitration hearing is this: Wang is healthy and good to go. Wang told Taiwanese media he kept workout the whole off-season. That's why he lose weight to 227 pounds which is the lightest weight he has since 2005. He also threw three bullpen before coming to camp .

In addition, I hope this whole arbitration process let Taiwanese pro baseball team learn how to set up good system for our pro baseball system. Of course, MLB System is not perfect, but there is something good which is worthy to learn from. Good system for players to get good benefits will be one of them.

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