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Burnett loses arbitration case

Feb 19, 2010, 3:45 PM EDT

VIERA, Fla. — We’re still two weeks away from the first Grapefruit League game, but the Nationals already own a 2-0 record … in arbitration.

Sean Burnett is the latest player to lose his hearing to the Nats. A three-person panel ruled in favor of the club today, so the left-hander will earn $775,000 this season instead of the $925,000 he was seeking. The Nats also defeated Brian Bruney in his case earlier this week.

Plenty more players trickling in now, including Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, Nyjer Morgan, Willy Taveras, Roger Bernadina, Shawn Estes, Matt Chico, Jason Bergmann, Tyler Clippard, Collin Balester (sporting that hideous moustache), Matt Capps, J.D. Martin, Tyler Walker and plenty more I’m forgetting at the moment.

No sight of Chien-Ming Wang yet, but they’re furiously setting up the stage for his press conference, on the field right in front of the pitcher’s mound. The Nats would have preferred to do this indoors, but the room they generally use for these things isn’t big enough to accommodate all the media that will be here for Wang’s press conference. A gaggle of reporters from Taiwan has descended upon Viera, and my understanding is that many of them will be following Wang and the Nats around all season. Definitely a new experience for this organization.

OK, time to run down to Jim Riggleman’s camp-opening press conference. I’ll be back later with details of that and of Wang’s introduction.

  1. Steven - Feb 19, 2010 at 3:59 PM

    Are the Nationals 2-0 or are the 0-2? I guess it depends on whether you root for the team on the field (ie the players) or the team in the corporate office (ie Ted, Stan, etc.). Personally, my jersey has Ryan Zimmerman's name on the back. So as far as I'm concerned, the guys I cheer for are 0-2 this week.

  2. JayB - Feb 19, 2010 at 4:19 PM

    That is an interesting point of view…..What does it mean to be a Nats fan? Steven who then do you blame for the two 100 loses seasons and 143 errors….2nd highest in all baseball in the past 10 years? I blame the Front office for that so I guess when they win I will have to give them the credit.

  3. Positively Half St. - Feb 19, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    The team saved enough in arbitration to pay an MLB minimum salary.Buy two, get one free!

  4. Rick Reichardt - Feb 19, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    This team goes to arbitration more than any other in MLB. An artifact of the Lerner business model?

  5. Sasskuash - Feb 19, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    I think they already spent their "free" money on Ron Vallone. I'd prefer they just bought 2 "full price"

  6. Steve M. - Feb 19, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    I don't feel sorry for the players at all. When I am convinced that they are underpaid then I will weep for poor Mr. Bruney when I have friends that are out of work. Boohoo.The average family Doctor MD in the US makes under $150,000 minus their malpractice insurance and paying back their student loans and will work 5 years to make what Sean Burnett makes in 1? Source :http://www.payscale.com/research/US/People_with_Jobs_as_Physicians_%2F_Doctors/SalaryWhat is the last life Sean Burnett saved? People, wake up and stop feeling sorry for the players and the owners. This is all smoke and mirrors.Its all just entertainment and not brain surgery! I don't care either way so long as they don't raise the price of my seats!

  7. Steve M. - Feb 19, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    My wife just brought up a good point. Mark Zuckerman, our host here, is sort of technically unemployed living off of severance pay and/or unemployment pay with not too many great paying jobs staring him in the face.I felt so bad now that I went to send him lunch money and his link is closed to donations!https://www.chipin.com/contribute/id/3aad34cc7a988fdb

  8. NatsNut - Feb 19, 2010 at 5:25 PM

    Mark,Thanks for this. I've heard bits and pieces about the hard feelings players are left with after arbitration hearings. Can you delve a little deeper about tha? For example, would Rizzo have an informal talk with them later to reinforce their value to the team? Or is that Riggleman's job? Or do they just have to suck it up?Also, am I right in my impression that Rizzo negotiated to a certain point, then purposely cut off negotiations once the deadline hit, letting the arbitration speak for itself? If so, it might send a message to players, especially now that they won both arbitrations, that he'll be fair with his offers, but won't negotiate to death. Take it or leave it, but we'll put you through the wringer, and probably win, if you take it to arbitration.Or am I reading too much into it?Thanks

  9. peric - Feb 19, 2010 at 5:48 PM

    Steve M. I think Mark shut himself down after Nats fans contributed around 10K. He's an honest fellow with integrity that's for sure.

  10. An Briosca Mor - Feb 19, 2010 at 5:52 PM

    Burnett gets a 90% raise even though he lost his arbitration hearing. He'll live. And if he needs any counseling after the hearing to repair his bruised psyche, it better be on his own dime. Riggleman and Rizzo have better things to do.Maybe Mark Zuckerman ought to get the Nats to take him to arbitration. Then he'd be guaranteed a hefty raise no matter what.

  11. Avar - Feb 19, 2010 at 5:52 PM

    Looking forward to the audio file when I get home tonight. I'm in the middle on Balester. I think you need draw as little attention to yourself as possible until you are established. Guys who don't follow that tend to struggle. But, the team polices it. If Zimm and Dunn and Pudge and Marquis and the other vets don't have a problem with it, then I don't. And if they have a problem with it, I think it will stop. Would you ignore those guys??

  12. Avar - Feb 19, 2010 at 5:55 PM

    I remember Mark saying that Rizzo was "determined" to go to arbitration. Definitely need to hear more about that.Bruney especially had a terrible year. I heard him gripe a little. He should shut up and pitch. That will take care of it. I was surprised Burnett lost, he was excellent last year.

  13. natsfan1a - Feb 19, 2010 at 5:59 PM

    Good point re. the shutting down of donations, Steve. Heck, I'd like to up the ante and donate a bit more after receiving my first (great) audio file. How about it, Mark?Re. arbitration, I would have thought that the players would know what to expect going into it as far as the potential for criticism. As members of the Corleone family were known to say from time to time: it's not personal, it's business. ;-) I'm with Avar re. Bruney.

  14. greg - Feb 19, 2010 at 6:01 PM

    plus those of us who didn't get in on the donation stuff in time are now shut out from being willing to shell out for exclusive content.

  15. greg - Feb 19, 2010 at 6:02 PM

    btw, i'm not sure what this means or says about the site, but my verification word to post my last post was "phalick."

  16. Wigi - Feb 19, 2010 at 6:05 PM

    On Arbitration… I thought I heard that the players usually prevail in arbitration hearings… though I don't know where I heard that. Perhaps the economy has changed the perception of the arbitrators. Either way, I think that no matter the result of the hearing, the process itself is kinda toxic. Both parties should do all they can to avoid it… though I have to admit, when Felipe Lopez went through it a couple years back with the Nats, I was OK with it.On a different topic… I donated to Mark'd fund the day it was announced… but I think I have already gotten my money's worth… and was ready to donate more. I hadn't actually gotten to the point of doing that… but I noticed Steve's comment above… I'd sure like to see this continue past Spring Training… and I would love to have Mark find a way to make a living doing it.

  17. natscan reduxit - Feb 19, 2010 at 6:27 PM

    … now, now Mark. Moustaches may be 'off the radar screen' at present, but they will return. Matter of fact, for many of us, they never left…. glad to know Ryan Speier is around down there. he might not be the son of former Expo, Chris, but he certainly has the right birthday – July 24!… but seriously, this blog is fast becoming the default Nats fans' interactive blog, at least where I live. I realize mark can't give much attention to plans for carrying on after 'Florida', but I seem to recall that the donations were earmarked for ST only. Is there any way we can do more to ensure he has a continuing role during the season?

  18. Robert - Feb 19, 2010 at 8:00 PM

    Mark,Great to have you on the beat. Please consider writing something about whether the ballclub gains or loses in the end when it decides to be tough over a few hundred thousand dollars and beat its own players in arbitration. What effect does this have on those players' morale? Is there an alternative to going to the mattresses that might both protect the Nats' fiscal integrity and the players' egos and regard for the organization?

  19. Anonymous8 - Feb 20, 2010 at 1:50 AM

    This is refreshing to read through some good posts and not the mess on some of the other Bloggo's of the weeping for players that lose in arbitration.I find it hard to weep especially considering they still got sizeable raises from the prior years! Great job Mark!

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