Halsey, service time, and the truth

Halsey's newspaper quote captures PART of the issue.
"I kept going in and saying, 'My arm is bothering me, it's not right,' and they said, 'Oh, it's just biceps tendinitis, you'll be fine,' '' Halsey said by phone from Sacramento. "Then they send you down and screw you. I'm grinding it out, trying to be a team guy, and I get f -- . It's all just a business decision, because if I came up and pitched Tuesday and then had an MRI and had to go on the DL, they'd have to pay me major-league DL money. It's such a mom-and-pop organization."

Halsey IS right - this is at least in part a money issue. But he's missed how big of a money issue it is, and after you hear this you'll be a bit a bit more sympathetic to the A's decision-making:

Halsey's current major league service time stands at 2.048, according to Cot's. That means that if he spent the rest of the year on the big-league roster, DISABLED LIST OR NOT, he'd qualify as a three-year player...and thus be arbitration eligible.  Meaning that he'd be in line for a raise from approximately 400K (what he'd make on the big club) to at least over a million, maybe even two million depending on how well he pitched with the big club.

If Halsey goes on the DL while in the minors, the team doesn't waste his ML service-time, and pays him a minor leaguer's $2000-ish a month salary. If he gets hurt while with the big club and goes on the DL, even after one game, he's being paid at that 400K annual rate...but worse yet for the team, they lose his service time while he's there. And that has ripple effects:

*Instead of costing $400K next year, he costs $1-2 millon (guessing at arby figures here).
*Instead of costing $1-2 million in '08, he's in year 2 of arby, and costing 2-3 million or more, depending on performance.

You can see how that ends up affecting the team's bottom line by millions of dollars over the course of a few years of player control in the organization. It just doesn't make fiscal sense to bring up a guy who is having an MRI, giving those potential drastic financial consequences. Halsey can call that "mom and pop" - I'd just call it great foresight by the team. That's a tough break for Halsey, but if the A's didn't make smart decisions like that, they wouldn't be successful year in and year out with their payroll.

Would anyone be surprised if Beane and Forst have been budgeting Halsey as a candidate to take over Kennedy's fifth spot in the rotation next year for the low cost of $400K? Keeping him down is simply sticking to that plan.

Now, from Halsey's perspective, for those that think he is "classless" for complaining in the media about this...

You have to be able to see Halsey's frustration here. Imagine in your own line of work, that you are capable of making $400,000, and the going rate for your type of services is $400,000, and your employer is paying you $20,000 instead. And you can't simply jump ship and go to a new employer - your current one owns you. Worse yet, you only have about 7-8 years left to make that kind of $400K-and-up money. If you thought you were good enough, right now, to be producing for another company and earning $400K, you'd be FURIOUS. Especially knowing that at any time your career in this profession, and your earning power, could suddenly end.

An objective person has to recognize that Halsey is good enough to be a big-league pitcher, even starter, for a few teams out there. He knows this, and so do the A's, but it's in their best interest to have him as insurance, and to be able to pencil him in as a cheap rotation option for next year.
He's acting out of anger and desperation - he knows he has no leverage, so by being a malcontent, he's hoping he'll get his wish, his opportunity, and his money, by being traded.

I'm guessing Beane won't fall into this trap - he'd clearly be selling low, and Halsey is a valuable piece of the eventual puzzle in '08, if not later this season (he could be on the roster for HALF of the season and not be arby-eligible next year).

But there is precedent for Beane flying off the handle and trading a player he's pissed at to send a message - remember Jeremy Giambi in Moneyball?

Final thoughts:
*Halsey didn't pitch well enough in spring to be that pissed about all of this. I can see how he'd feel more entitled than the next guy, given that he was with big club last year, but the fact is he didn't pitch well in ST. And DiNardo was out of options. Economics have to play a role in any smart team's decisions.
*As much pain as Halsey allegedly has been pitching through, he's got a 1.06 WHIP, 2.65 era, and a 17/3 K to walk ratio in 17 AAA innings so far. How messed up could he really be? I think he knows that he makes himself sound better when telling this story to tell the media that he's been "pitching through pain against his wishes" for two months. How much of an exaggeration that is, only he knows.
*I'd love to ask Brad Ziegler this question: How common is it for a minor league guy to get an MRI, or any kind of medical treatment, and have that communication not filter up to the big league level?  Is the minor league med staff pretty much on an island, or in regular communication with Larry Davis and Co. for advice/consultation?

I just think it's important to know the extra factors that are playing into this.

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