The Cardinals will have their first arbitration Thursday since they faced off nine years ago with Darren Oliver.
Rick Ankiel is up first amongst the arbitration eligible Cardinals who couldn't strike a deal without a hearing. Ryan Ludwick will be up next.
Ankiel has made a claim for $3.3 million on the strength of his 25 homers and stellar defensive play. The Cardinals have countered with an arbitration figrure of $2.35 million, presumably based on Ankiel's injury history and lack of a track history as an outfielder.
It's never a good thing to have to go to a hearing because no GM with any sense wants to sit across a table from one of his players and tell a third party why said player stinks and is lucky to even have a job. Ankiel seemed like an excellent candidate for a three-year contract that could have eliminated the whole arbitration process.
True, Ankiel is a Scott Boras client. But Boras is aware of Ankiel's comfort level with the Cardinals who stood by the player as he tried for four years to come back as a pitcher only to switch to the outfield. If anybody would be willing to take a hometown discount it was Ankiel, who made a big production when the Cardinals had to put him through waivers a few years back about that fact that he wanted to stay with St. Louis and that he would not resume pitching. Did the Redbirds even approach Ankiel about an offer?
For all his posturing about home grown players, Mozeliak seems to be willing to let the career Cardinal Ankiel walk away first chance he gets.