The Astros have won their past four arbitration hearings prior to Friday’s hearing with Hunter Pence. The Astros defeated Wandy Rodriguez last year and Mark Loretta and Jose Valverde in 2008. In 1997 they won against Darryl Kile. They last lost a hearing against Rick Wilkins in 1996. Both the Wilkins and Kile hearings were decided by arbitrator Morton Mitchnick back before all of the hearings were handled by three arbitrators.
With a midpoint between the two exchanged figures in the Pence case of $6,025,000 (Astros offered $5,150,000, and Pence requested $6,900,000), the difference is $1,750,000. The Astros were represented at the Pence hearing by David Gottfried (assistant general manager), Tal Smith (president of baseball operation), and Ed Wade (general manager). Smith has an impressive career representing management in hearings.
Margaret Brogan, Robert Herzog, and Fredric Horowitz will decide the case. Herzog was a panelist on all three hearings this year, and his career panel record is 2-1. Brogan has the most experience with ten, and she has a 5-4 record favoring the teams. Horowitz is 3-3.
With the gap this large and Smith’s track record, I am inclined to give the nod to the Astros again.
Here is a complete list of the Astros in arbitration according to my research -
Team Wins (8) - Bill Dawley (1986), Frank DiPino (1986), Bill Doran (1987), Darryl Kile (1997), Mark Loretta (2008), Al Osuna (1994), Wandy Rodriguez (2010), and Jose Valverde (2008).
Player Wins (6) - Joaquin Andujar (1980), Kevin Bass (1987), Glenn Davis (1989), Joe Sambito (1980), Denny Walling (1987), and Rick Wilkins (1996).