Angels catcher Jeff Mathis wins arbitration case – LA Times

By Mike DiGiovanna
Los Angeles Times


Reporting from Tempe, Ariz. – Jeff Mathis didn’t have much in the way of regular-season offensive statistics to support his case in arbitration, but the catcher’s impressive defensive resume and some big playoff hits apparently swayed a three-person panel in his favor.


Mathis was awarded a salary of $1.3 million on Friday, a significant amount over the $700,000 figure submitted by the Angels.


The 26-year-old, who shares time behind the plate with Mike Napoli, hit only .211 with five home runs and 28 runs batted in last season.


But in 657 innings with the agile Mathis behind the plate, Angels pitchers had a 3.99 earned-run average; they had a 4.86 ERA in 758 innings with Napoli catching.


Mathis also caught 17 of 69 attempted base-stealers for a 24.6% success rate; Napoli, who will make $3.6 million in 2010 but is coming off two 20-homer seasons, caught 13 of 87 attempted base-stealers for a 14.9% success rate.


Mathis also hit .583 (seven for 12 with five doubles in the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, delivering a walk-off, run-scoring double in the 11th inning of Game 3 and sparking a game-winning, three-run seven-inning rally in Game 5 with a single.


Thursday’s hearing in Tampa was only the second in Tony Reagins’tenure as Angels general manager, and the loss dropped him to 1-1.


The Angels beat closer Francisco Rodriguez in arbitration before the 2008 season, though the “loser” was awarded a $10-million salary that year.


The arbitration process is acrimonious by nature, with teams having to argue why they think players are worth less, but Reagins, who flew to and from Florida in a 24-hour period Wednesday and Thursday, doesn’t think there will be any hard feelings.


“It’s not an easy process whether you win or lose,” Reagins said. “What you hope is that everyone involved puts it behind them. You live with the result, then you take care of business on the field. That’s what it’s all about.”


Short hops


Pitcher Scott Kazmir, already slowed by a minor hamstring injury, left camp before Friday morning’s workout because of a sore throat and a fever. . . . First-base coach Alfredo Griffin is completing a real-estate transaction in the Dominican Republic and will miss the first three days of workouts. He is expected to join the team on Sunday.