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Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Save the Spinners: How One Town Attempts to Stave Off MLB’s Contractual Plan for the Minors

LOWELL, Mass. — Major League Baseball’s controversial plan to reorganize Minor League Baseball faces headwinds as local communities who stand to lose their teams—and accompanying jobs, business and investment—unify efforts to persuade or, if necessary, try to stop MLB.

One such community is Lowell, Massachusetts, a city of about 112,000 people and home of the Lowell Spinners. The Spinners are the Class A Short Season affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. They are one of 42 teams rumored to face losing a major league affiliation as part of a tentative MLB initiative to contract the minor leagues.

On Tuesday, U.S. Congresswoman Lori Trahan (D-Massachusetts and Lowell native) chaired a community meeting at the Spinners’ LeLacheur Park. Trahan, along with U.S. Congressman David McKinley (R-West Virginia), is leading a bipartisan effort in Congress to ensure that MLB appreciates the gravity of legal risks and political fallout it could face.

“Major League Baseball,” Trahan stressed to a packed clubhouse room of community and business leaders, “received a sweetheart deal in 2018 by getting an exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act.” Trahan’s remark about the FLSA exemption is sure to attract notice in the office of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and in offices of attorneys who are representing minor league players.

An update on the current state of Minor League Baseball contraction.

 

QLE Posted: January 08, 2020 at 12:41 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: contraction, minor leagues

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Minor-league players win another ruling in federal minimum-wage lawsuit

A group of minor league players suing Major League Baseball over alleged illegally low wages secured an important victory in court Friday.

MLB had sought to prevent a 2014 lawsuit brought by minor league baseball players seeking minimum wage and overtime pay from proceeding as a class action, but the Ninth Circuit court in San Francisco has denied the league’s request.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, it’s the second major ruling to go in favor of the players. On Aug. 16, 2019, a three-judge panel ruled that the 2014 lawsuit originally brought by forty-five minor league baseball players against MLB, then MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, and a number of MLB franchises, could proceed as a class action.

The August ruling also allowed minor league players in California, Arizona and Florida to participate, which is significant considering that all 30 teams hold spring training in either Arizona or Florida. The lawsuit, which alleges that baseball’s owners have not complied with labor laws, could expand to include thousands of players who participated in spring training from 2014 to 2019.

My apologies for the nature of the link- the source is behind a pay-wall for me.

Any assessment of this from the site lawyers?

 

 

QLE Posted: January 04, 2020 at 01:13 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: lawsuits, minor leagues, wages

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Best of BP: MLB Shrinking MiLB is a Microcosm of the Nation’s Deepening Divide - Baseball ProspectusBaseball Prospectus

How much are players hurt if, instead of getting drafted and becoming low paid organizational fodder, these players get funneled into college programs and independent teams?

Somewhat lost among the frenzy of sign stealing, Major League Baseball’s continued ineptitude when it comes to domestic violence, juiced (and unjuiced) baseballs, and various other scandals, was the league’s plan to contract 42 minor-league franchises, slashing baseball’s minor-league system by a quarter in 2021. Others have discussed the myriad negative consequences this will have on the game, from the Mike Piazzas and Jose Altuves of the world never getting their shot to the effect this bold-faced refusal to simply pay minor-league players a living wage will have on already tense labor relations. However, the most impactful consequence of eliminating so many minor-league teams will ultimately be the effect it has on the communities those teams call home, the reverberations of which will be felt across the country.

 

Jim Furtado Posted: December 31, 2019 at 11:02 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: minor leagues

Sunday, December 29, 2019

It’s time to remove MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred from office

After a contested election, commissioner Rob Manfred was given a five-year term starting Jan. 2015. That was extended for five more years through 2024 after the 2018 season. But MLB’s owners may want to rethink that vote.

The gains Manfred has made appear to be more than offset by continued attrition of attendance, unnecessary labor strife and now, the long-term reduction or even outright dissolution of the backbone of baseball in small towns and cities all around America that MLB won’t touch: the minor leagues.

hysdavid Posted: December 29, 2019 at 09:13 AM | 36 comment(s)
  Beats: minor leagues, rob manfred

MLB says it is committed to protecting minor league teams

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Major League Baseball said Saturday it is committed to protecting minor league teams, a day after U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal warned of possible congressional action if the organization followed through on minor league contraction plans.

“It is not Major League Baseball’s goal to eliminate any club in these negotiations, and MLB currently has a plan for every club to continue operations with some level of support,” Major League Baseball said in a written statement.

MLB has proposed a contraction plan that could end minor league baseball at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Connecticut, and ballparks across the nation by eliminating its affiliation with 42 teams. The Norwich Sea Unicorns — formerly the Connecticut Tigers — play in the Class A New York-Penn League.

I suppose it is possible to believe MLB on this- then again, I suppose it is possible to get people to believe that I have a nice bridge for sale…..

 

QLE Posted: December 29, 2019 at 12:56 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: contraction, minor leagues

Friday, December 20, 2019


Monday, December 16, 2019

Why some MLB executives think a leaner minor-league system is best for baseball

SAN DIEGO — Baseball’s minor leagues are a bloated and antiquated system that does not adequately serve either the player or his development, according to several Major League Baseball executives, who support a proposal to eliminate a quarter of minor-league teams and a movement to rethink how the sport may better prepare its next generation.

“The system has been around for a long time,” Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen said. “We have a lot of great partners. A lot of great relationships. There’s a great history within the game for the minor leagues. It’s part of the fabric of what we’re doing. But, it’s been a while since we talked about what’s the optimal way for us to develop players.”

MLB and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues are negotiating a contract that would replace the current agreement, which expires after the 2020 season. As part of that negotiation, MLB submitted a proposal that would pare the number of affiliated minor-league teams by 42, most of those in Class A or below. The remaining teams would be realigned, primarily by geography.

In response, Pat O’Conner, president and CEO of Minor League Baseball, the communities of the teams that could lose their affiliations, and various politicians — including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders — have vowed a fight to maintain the status quo. A slew of lawsuits from eliminated teams and their fans have been predicted. Sanders appeared to threaten the standing of baseball’s antitrust exemption. In a recent address that opened the minor-league version of baseball’s winter meetings, O’Conner said, “Big storm clouds loom on the horizon.”

Mind you, this would mean more if I had any belief that any general manager could publicly defy the interests of ownership today and still have a job tomorrow….

 

QLE Posted: December 16, 2019 at 01:04 AM | 111 comment(s)
  Beats: bad ideas, contraction, minor leagues

Friday, December 13, 2019

Florida Fire Frogs Mess Comes At Bad Time For MiLB

The Fire Frogs failed to draw 1,000 fans for any game in 2019. Their total attendance of 19,615 was the second worst of the 21st century. It would have been dead last if not for the fact that Dunedin also drew almost no one in 2019 while playing in a temporary facility. But the Blue Jays were doing that while their stadium was upgraded for 2020.

Even with a low-cost, no-frills front office, the team is a significant money loser. One partner has sued the others over how the partnership covers the growing red ink. The team received a $500,000 check at the end of the 2019 season to buy the Fire Frogs out of the remaining three years of their lease in Kissimmee—the stadium has now been turned into a soccer stadium for 2020.

That gave the team some much-needed funding, but it also meant that the team was left without a place to play. And there are few good answers to fix that problem for 2020. When the Winter Meetings ended, the team was still homeless. Coco Beach’s ballpark, a facility that doesn’t currently have clubhouses, is one of the best on a list of bad options.

This is a problem that has been building for several years. And it is one where the current structure of the minors works against solving.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 13, 2019 at 08:46 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: minor leagues

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Manfred: MLB `flexible’ on minor league cuts, irked by talks

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred countered outcry over Major League Baseball’s proposal to chop 42 farm teams by challenging the minors Wednesday to “move off the take-it-or-leave-it status quo approach” to their ongoing negotiations.

MLB and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues are negotiating a minor league agreement to replace the contract expiring after the 2020 season. MLB has proposed cutting more than a quarter of its 160 affiliates, citing concerns over the quality of facilities, travel and salaries for players.

Minor League President Pat O’Conner delivered an impassioned speech defending the minors to team executives at these winter meetings, and fans from small towns across the country have been outraged to see their teams listed as being on the chopping block. Manfred has even been roasted on Twitter by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Manfred said MLB “will remain flexible” in negotiations and is asking the NAPBL to do the same.

Every generation gets the Bowie Kuhn it deserves….

 

QLE Posted: December 12, 2019 at 01:14 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: contraction, manfred is thinking about it, minor leagues

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Minor League teams on MLB’s shutdown list are looking to rebrand

One of the many joys of Minor League Baseball is the unique team names. From the Biscuits and Yard Goats to the Rubber Ducks and Flying Squirrels, teams have been able to create unique mascots beyond the run-of-the-mill Tigers, Wildcats and Eagles of other sports.

The latest team to join in on the fun is the Connecticut Tigers, which announced on Friday that it will become the Harwich Sea Unicons for 2019. Fans in the Constitution State can grab the hottest new narwhal-themed baseball gear already.

But fans may want to jump on this new gear soon because the Sea Unicorns may not be long for Minor League Baseball. The franchise is one of 42 that Major League Baseball has proposed slashing in the name of saving money.

The move to eliminate a quarter of all minor league teams is not official, and there’s no timetable for a change yet either. MLB still has to negotiate its Professional Baseball Agreement next year, but it seems plausible that not all 162 teams will be around in the near future, much to the dismay of fans, owners, and at least one presidential candidate.

For those curious as for how the teams threatened by contraction are behaving in spite of this threat.

QLE Posted: December 07, 2019 at 10:07 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: contraction, minor leagues, reboots

Friday, December 06, 2019

Ahoy, San Diego: 2019 Winter Meetings Preview

Commentary on what to expect from the Winter Meetings- here is a sample of this approach:

Major League Baseball vs. Minor League Baseball

One thing a lot of people don’t know about the Winter Meetings is that it’s put on, primarily, by Minor League Baseball as an organization and the vast majority of the people on the ground at the Winter Meetings either run or work for or are trying to sell stuff to minor league teams. Almost every team’s owner comes and brings along some staffers. Coaches, trainers, scouts, and other team employees who spend most of their year out in the bushes as opposed to back at the big club’s home base attend meetings and hobnob with one another.

Normally that’s all pretty routine. This year, however, it probably won’t be thanks to Rob Manfred’s plan to contract 42 minor league clubs and rearrange a great many more of them across levels and leagues.

As we noted earlier today, that scheme has set off a political firestorm and is no doubt the top agenda item and point of concern for every single minor league official and employee at the Winter Meetings. There are, reportedly, already meetings going on in San Diego about all of this. Expect some news about it at any point in the next week. At this point I’d expect anything from Manfred totally scrapping the plan, to him doubling down on it, to reports of general acrimony and possible legal action and everything in between.

 

QLE Posted: December 06, 2019 at 11:21 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: business, free agents, hall of fame, managers, minor leagues, rule 5 draft, trades, winter meetings

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Minor league cities fighting back against contraction plan

NORWICH, Conn. (AP) — Mayor Peter Nystrom says he plans to fight hard to preserve his town’s little piece of Americana.

For a quarter century on baseball nights at Dodd Stadium, children have played on the hill next to the right field fence while neighbors chat in the stands and watch future major league stars.

But Major League Baseball has proposed a contraction plan that could end those summer nights at Dodd and other parks across the nation by eliminating its affiliation with 42 minor league teams, including the Connecticut Tigers, Norwich’s single-A New York-Penn League team.

The contraction plan is being proposed as Major League Baseball and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues negotiate a new Professional Baseball Agreement to replace the one that expires after the 2020 season. The 176 minor league teams affiliated with the NAPBL combined to draw 41.5 million fans this year.

Another round in the fight against a bad idea has begun.

 

QLE Posted: November 26, 2019 at 10:38 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: contraction, fight, fight, fight, minor leagues

Monday, November 25, 2019

Rachel Balkovec hired as Yankees minor league hitting coach

The Yankees have hired Rachel Balkovec as a minor league hitting coach, the New York Times reported on Friday. Balkovec, who signed a contract earlier this month, is believed to be the first woman to serve as a full-time hitting coach in the history of professional baseball.

Balkovec, 32, has an impressive resume and has already broken barriers as a woman looking to move through the coaching ranks. After playing softball collegiately at both Creighton University and the University of New Mexico, she’s worked in both the Cardinals and Astros organizations.

In 2014 and 2015, she was the Cardinals minor league strength and conditioning coordinator, the first woman in affiliated baseball to hold a full-time position in that role, as well.

Most recently, she was the strength and conditioning coach for the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Astros’ Double-A affiliate.

 

QLE Posted: November 25, 2019 at 01:51 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: hitting coaches, milestones, minor leagues, yankees

Monday, November 18, 2019

Rob Manfred’s plan to destroy minor league baseball

As if they aren’t squarely involved in enough transgressions against baseball, we should not be at all surprised to know the Houston Astros — the Jeff Luhnow Houston Astros — were the ringleaders of the MLB plan to essentially destroy grass roots baseball and contract 42 of the 160 minor league teams.

In recent weeks, details of the plan have been slowly leaking out, the MLB spin being it’s designed to (1) upgrade all the minor league facilities and (2) improve “wellness” for the minor leaguers in terms of travel and living conditions. In truth, as always, it’s designed to save money, lots of money, and the proprietors of these minor league teams, many of whom have their life savings invested in them, be damned.

Here is the plan which is slated to go into effect beginning in 2021:

1. Forty-two of the 160 minor league teams (26%) guaranteed under the present, expiring Professional Baseball Agreement between the majors and minors will be eliminated, most of them from the four short season Rookie Leagues — the New York-Penn, Appalachian, Northwest and Pioneer.

An update to a subject we’ve discussed earlier, with further details.

QLE Posted: November 18, 2019 at 12:08 AM | 188 comment(s)
  Beats: contraction, manfred is thinking about it, minor leagues

Friday, October 25, 2019

Kannapolis Intimidators drop name honoring Dale Earnhardt. Why they picked this new one

The Kannapolis Intimidators replaced their name made famous by hometown hero Dale Earnhardt with the new moniker “Cannon Ballers” Wednesday night.

“Cannon” pays homage to the former sheet and towel maker Cannon Mills that for decades employed thousands and dominated life in the city.
[...]
The team doesn’t own “and therefore cannot confidently build around the Intimidator name” as it moves to the city of Kannapolis’s new “Sports and Entertainment Venue” in 2020, team officials wrote, The Charlotte Observer reported at the time.


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

From 319 transactions to No. 1 overall: Sacramento River Cats win third Triple-A championship

The first game was on April 4, in West Sacramento, under a cloudy sky with a first-pitch temperature of 63 degrees.

The final game arrived after marathon of season: 146 games, 319 player transactions, road trips near and far and a fair share of seasonal twists and turns.

It was Tuesday night in Memphis, game-time temperature a sticky and humid 96 degrees.

This is Minor League Baseball, where series survival is equally as vital as attrition, with followers needing updated rosters to keep track of it all.

The story of a championship season- of interest for those interested in the minor leagues.

 

QLE Posted: September 18, 2019 at 12:21 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: champions, minor leagues, sacramento, triple a

Friday, September 13, 2019

Cleveland’s Luke Carlin on Organizational Leadership and Collaborative Culture | FanGraphs Baseball

“Here with the Indians, it’s a team-first approach and a growth mindset. There is language we use that gets our players to understand the standards we set. We have very high standards of excellence, and we need to consistently message that. We need to model that as a staff. There is going to be developmental feedback that is done more privately. There is going to be psychological safety. We want an environment where the players aren’t afraid to make mistakes. We’re equipping them with a ton of great content, and we’re using our experience to weave everything they need into a language that allows them to apply it.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 13, 2019 at 08:54 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: indians, minor leagues, player development

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Do We Even Need Minor League Baseball? | FiveThirtyEight

Some people on Twitter have suggested it might be better for players to have fewer players under MLB control. They suggest these players would be better off moving to college and new independent league they feel will spring up. With the scarcity of college scholarships and independent league pay, I question whether their beliefs are true.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told The Athletic in July that “we have to look at the efficiency of the [minor league] system that we’re running right now, how many teams, how many players, what we’re paying players, and all those issues are obviously related.”

What that means for the future of the farm system suggests it could, and perhaps should, look much different than it does today.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 11, 2019 at 09:19 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: minor leagues

Monday, September 09, 2019

Do we even need minor league baseball?

A year before the closing of two affiliates, in March 2016, the Astros hired Jose Fernandez to be part of their sports science department. He had worked with pro soccer teams in Europe. European soccer giants have centralized training centers focused on building skills rather than a decentralized sprawl of affiliates. ...
“On site in Barcelona, they have their whole development academy, from the little kids all the way up to the professional teams. They have one big campus. They do everything on-site. Everything is coordinated. Everyone is doing the same drills. Everyone was being measured with the same technology. That makes a ton of sense,” the ex-Astros front official said.

Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: September 09, 2019 at 12:03 PM | 78 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, minor leagues, soccer

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Report: Wife, child of Rays pitching prospect Blake Bivens murdered in Virginia

The wife and child of Tampa Bay Rays pitching prospect Blake Bivens were killed in a triple homicide in Pittsylvania County, Virginia on Tuesday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports.

Bivens’s wife’s 18-year-old brother Matthew Thomas Bernard of Keeling, Virginia has been charged in all three murders, according to the report. The identity of the third victim was not noted in the report.

The third victim was Bivens’s mother-in-law. Bernard also reportedly killed the family dog.

Just a senseless tragedy.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

‘You’re the guy with the ball to the crotch’: The inside story behind the funniest baseball card

I think the title is pretty self-explanatory…

Keith Comstock played on four major league clubs as a journeyman reliever, but his professional career is most often remembered for one thing: a ball to the crotch. Thirty years ago—in what otherwise would have been a forgotten minor league set—Comstock appeared on one of the most memorable baseball cards ever made. Here’s the story of how it came together, in his words.


Blue Jays minor leaguer T.J. Zeuch throws no-hitter

Toronto Blue Jays minor leaguer T.J. Zeuch tossed a no-hitter for Triple-A Buffalo last night. The feat came in a 3-0 victory over the Rochester Red Wings. He needed 114 pitches to do it while striking out three and walking one. He also hit a batter, giving him only two blemishes in the game.

The last no-hitter for Buffalo came when the club was the Indians’ Triple-A team back on June 20, 1997. The guy who did it: Bartolo Colon.

 

QLE Posted: August 21, 2019 at 03:43 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: minor leagues, no-hitter, t.j. zeuch

Thursday, August 15, 2019


Thursday, August 01, 2019

Royals’ Van Buren records 5-K inning

While four-strikeout innings are impressive, five-strikeout frames are nearly unheard of. But that’s exactly what reliever Malcolm Van Buren recorded in the seventh inning of Rookie Advanced Burlington’s 7-6 win over Elizabethton on Wednesday night at Burlington Athletic Stadium.

“Honestly, I was kind of struggling with command at the time,” Van Buren said.

The right-hander began the inning simply enough, when Seth Gray swung and missed at a 3-2 curveball low in the zone. Parker Phillips whiffed at a 1-2 curve in the dirt for what should’ve been the second out, but he reached on a throwing error by catcher Jesus Atencio.

“I didn’t really realize that he struck out also,” Van Buren said, “because I was trying to focus and get in the zone.”

 

QLE Posted: August 01, 2019 at 03:44 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: malcolm van buren, minor leagues, prospects, strikeouts

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Beasley: Bryce Harper “can handle” starting season with Nationals

Beasley: Bryceslist: Killer job.

New Triple-A Syracuse manager Tony Beasley believes Harper could use some more seasoning but has also demonstrated hints of the complete package
.
“I would hate to see him come all the way through the system quickly, skip levels and then get the major league level and really skid,” Beasley said. “The thing he has that is special, and I have talked to him about it, is his mindset - the way he believes and the level of confidence he has and his ability to play the game of baseball. I don’t think you want to shake that, especially at this age. I don’t think you want to take the chance of shaking that.”

...But all you can go on is what you have seen and Beasley believes in what Harper has produced in one season. He believes it is a very positive sign for what lies ahead for the Nationals and their top prospect.

“I think so far he has done outstanding. That is the tough call for general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson (to make). All we can do as a minor league field staff is to prepare him as best we can for on and off field situations. I think so far he is way, way ahead of his years and he gets it. I think (Harper) really understands it,” Beasley said.

So, is Harper ready?

“If he gets the call out of spring training this year,” Beasley said, “I have a feeling that he can handle it.”

Repoz Posted: January 21, 2012 at 11:03 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: minor leagues, nationals, prospect reports, scouting

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