Today marks the first day of actual baseball arbitration hearings.  Of the 44 players that exchanged salary figures with their organizations, 32 of them have come to an agreement, leaving 12 with the potential of going all the way to a hearing in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Most of those players will likely sign for a figure around the midpoint (the number between the player’s and club’s offer), but some will actually go to a hearing where an arbitrator will pick either the team’s or the player’s figure in a system titled, Final Offer Arbitration.  There is no talk of midpoints in an actual hearing.

Unless the Milwaukee Brewers and Corey Hart‘s representatives (including CAA agent, Jeff Berry) can come to an agreement in the final hour, while both sides are getting ready to do battle in St. Petersburg, today will mark the first arbitration hearing, including the aforementioned parties.  Last year, Corey Hart earned $3.25 million.  This year, he submitted a figure of $4.8 million, while the Brewers submitted $4.15 million.

I get the feeling that this is going to be a tough sell for Hart.  While his representation will compare him to other players with similar numbers to substantiate their offer, looking at Hart’s production in 2008 compared to 2009, alone, makes me think it will be hard to convince an arbitrator that he deserves a $1.5 million+ raise.  Compared to 2008, Hart had a worse fielding percentage, batting average, SB/AB ratio, SO/AB ratio, RBI/AB ratio, HR/AB ratio, and 2B/AB ratio.  The one area of improvement that stands out a little bit is his BB/K ratio.  Also, Hart should see an increase in production as he gets older (he turns 28 in March).  He should be peaking in performance sometime in the near future, as long as he has completely rebounded from last year’s appendectomy.

Milwaukee has been able to avoid an arbitration hearing with 3 other players who settled before it ever got to the point of seeing an arbitrator.  If the hearing occurs, it will be the first time Brewers General Manager, Doug Melvin, is on one side of the table.

By the way, if you were representing Hart, which other players would you compare him to?