The argument is simple:
-- David Ortiz is saying he deserves more than a 150,000 raise after a season in which he hit .309 with 29 home runs, 96 RBI, a .398 on-base percentage and a .554 slugging percentage (that's a .953 OPS).
-- And the Red Sox are saying no players similar to Ortiz -- aging, one-dimensional designated hitters -- make anything close to the 16.5 million he's seeking.
Today, unless the two sides reach a last-minute agreement, an arbitrator gets to decide who's right.
The Sox and Ortiz will present their cases in St. Petersburg, Fla., with the arbitrator eventually having to decide whether Ortiz will earn what he's asking for (that 16.5 million) or what Boston is offering (12.65 million). The Sox have a history of settling with their players before the hearings -- they last went to arbitration in 2002, against Roland Arrojo -- but two months of fruitless negotiations have led us to this point.
The problem, as has been pointed out by virtually everyone, is that the arbitration process is bruising; the team's argument is best made by pointing out the player's weaknesses. And since Ortiz can be touchy and sensitive in the best of times, you have to think he's not going to be a very happy camper when this is over, even if he wins. Especially since he's given the Sox a couple of team-friendly deals in the past, which may be another reason why he's sticking to his guns this time.
If they haven't settled by now, odds are they probably won't. But there's always hope.
For everyone's sake, let's hope they do.