The Cubs are playing a rare Spring Training night game tonight, but have an off-day tomorrow. So be sure to tune those radios and listen in, because you’ll be without baseball for a day.
Of course, we’re also just ten days away from Opening Day (morning?) in Miami, so we’ve got that going for us, too. Eeek. I can’t wait.
Elsewhere around the league …
- According to Mike DeBonis (Washington Post), “a massive government spending bill that Congress is expected to consider this week could include a provision exempting Minor League Baseball players from federal labor laws.” This sort of bill would preempt those lawsuits from Minor League players, who are searching to earn at least minimum wage, but are stuck in some cases with around $1,000 to $1,500/month. To live on. As athletes in a billion dollar industry. The argument against paying them minimum wage is that these players are akin to seasonal employees and/or apprentices … which is ridiculous, and leads to guys working part-time jobs on the side while simultaneously being expected to be at their absolute peak of physical and mental performance. MLB is reportedly pushing hard to get the provision included, and they claim, together with Minor League Baseball, that having to keep track of federal minimum wage laws (and overtime provisions) for baseball players would severely damage Minor League Baseball. You’ll forgive me if I’m not entirely sympathetic to the leagues in this instance.
- [Brett: for some context, if an organization had 200 minor leaguers to pay, that org could bump all of them an additional $1,000 per month for about $1 million per baseball season. It’s not nothing, but think about how small it is compared to other expenditures, and how much it could mean to minor leaguers who have nothing and who received no real signing bonus.]
- At ESPN, Buster Olney has a good conversation about the wisdom (or lack thereof) of younger stars agreeing to multi-year deals early in their careers. Obviously, the risk is that they bust out and never earn the pay day they otherwise could have, but the reward is not only protecting against injury/failure, but also the increasingly scary free agent market. There’s a lot of good quotes and examples from current players/agents/executives – if you’re interested in the topic, it’s a good, easy read.
- Cardinals prospects Jack Flaherty (#38 in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline) and Carson Kelly (#46) were optioned to Triple-A Memphis on Saturday, which means they’re not going to make the team out of Spring Training. But while the pitcher, Flaherty, may be one of the first arms up this season, Kelly has a less clear path. Currently, he’s playing behind a soon-to-be 36-year-old Yadier Molina, who’s entering the first year of a three-year contract. The Cardinals, it seems, are trying to balance their desire to have Kelly learn from Yadi, while also making sure Kelly is playing as much as possible. I’d expect to see both at some point this season.
- Twins infielder Jorge Polanco received an 80-game suspension after testing positive for Stanozolol. Naturally, his response includes the famous “I didn’t know what I was taking” excuse:
Jorge Polanco statement pic.twitter.com/tJsmUGfn9o
— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) March 18, 2018
- At MLB.com, Joe Posnanski seems to believe Bryce Harper is in for a career year this season, which would be good timing for him given his impending free agency. To be sure, Harper will get *paid* no matter what he does this season (seriously, to an extent, it doesn’t really matter), but if does recreate the magic of 2015 (.330/.460/.649), he’s going to shatter Giancarlo Stanton’s record $325M contract with the Marlins from a few years ago.
- Mark Zuckerman (MASN Sports) shares a series of interesting notes on the Washington Nationals, including discussions over their fifth starter, who the back-up catcher should be, and how the bullpen will shake out. But among the most interesting/newsworthy bits is his belief that there’s “virtually no chance [Daniel] Murphy will be ready to begin the season on the active roster.” We knew Murphy was questionable for Opening Day after knee surgery late last year, but Zuckerman seems convinced that there’s no shot. And in case you’re wondering, top prospect Victor Robles, an outfielder by trade, isn’t in the running to take his spot on the roster.
- In case you’re wondering, Murphy’s ZiPS projections are pretty good, even if they’re not the sort of numbers he’s posted in recent seasons: .304/.356/.496 (11.9 K%, .192 ISO).
- At the Tampa Bay Times, Marc Topkin writes about Brendan McKay, the Rays two-way player, in the same form as Shohei Ohtani. McKay, 22, is currently more advanced as a pitcher, according to scouts, but intends on playing both sides of the ball when he reaches the Majors. Who knows? Maybe we’re on the precipice of a new era filled with more two-way stars?
- The latest on Zack Greinke – who’s had a roller coaster of a Spring Training, with diminished velocity and confidence, as well as some injury concerns – appears to be back on track to start the season in the D-Backs rotation. “If I felt this good every day for the rest of my career, it would be amazing,” said Greinke after a start this weekend, after leaving his start before that with tightness in his right groin. “I’ll definitely be making the next outing. I felt healthy and the pitches were pretty good. Hopefully that continues. It should; it was a good day.” Greinke will not be the Opening Day starter for the D-Backs (despite being the veteran ace of the staff, who just posted a 5.1 WAR, 202.1 IP season in 2017), but he should be in line for the third game of the year. He can fight Yu Darvish for best #3 starter in baseball (I kid).
- The Brewers really did a good:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) March 19, 2018
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) March 30, 2017