Projecting the NL All-Star roster

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The current NL All-Star balloting totals are out,
and it looks like shortstop and the third outfielder may be the only
spots still up for grabs. So, with still six weeks left to go before
the Midsummer Classic, let’s try to guess the NL roster.


Starter: Yadier Molina
Backups: Brian McCann, Bengie Molina

Yadier has a 157,000-vote lead over Jason Kendall and is more than
200,000 votes up on McCann, so it certainly seems as though he’ll be
the choice. At least he’s a strong enough defender that it’s not such
an embarrassing pick. McCann will surely be picked as a backup. Jesus
Flores and Carlos Ruiz have been the next most productive catchers, but
they’ve both logged DL time, as has Chris Iannetta. Bengie Molina’s big
RBI total will make him a strong candidate, though with Matt Cain and
Tim Lincecum around, it’s doubtful that he’d have to make the team as
the Giants’ lone rep.

First basemen

Starter: Albert Pujols
Backups: Adrian Gonzalez

Pujols had to settle for a backup role behind Lance Berkman last
year, but he’s easily the NL’s leading vote-getter so far this year and
he’s a full 700,000 votes up on Prince Fielder at first base. With 20
homers already, Gonzalez is practically assured of a bench spot. Joey
Votto seemed like the best choice for a third first baseman, but since
he’s on the shelf, Ryan Howard and Fielder are in the mix if another is
taken. Also, Jorge Cantu is a possibility if the Marlins need a rep and
neither Hanley Ramirez nor Josh Johnson is taken.

Second basemen

Starter: Chase Utley
Backups: Orlando Hudson, Freddy Sanchez

It should work out that there is room for five middle infielders.
I’m going with three second basemen and two shortstops, though it could
easily work out the other way. Utley, who is second to Pujols in the
overall voting, is a lock to start, and Hudson would seem to have the
obvious edge on the backup job. I’m picking Sanchez over Brandon
Phillips here, making him the lone Pirate on the squad.

Third basemen

Starter: David Wright
Backups: Ryan Zimmerman, Chipper Jones

Wright leads Zimmerman in the balloting by 200,000 votes, with
Chipper in fourth. Casey Blake is also playing very well, but that
doesn’t figure to last. Mark Reynolds has a chance of going if no other
Diamondbacks make the team. Arizona does have Justin Upton and Dan
Haren as alternatives, though.


Starter: Jimmy Rollins
Backup: Hanley Ramirez

Ramirez currently has a 17,000-vote lead over Rollins in the
balloting, but I’m guessing that won’t hold up, even with Ramirez
possessing 350 points of OPS on Rollins. If Ramirez does win the vote,
then Rollins won’t make the team and Miguel Tejada would seem to be the
clear favorite to act as the backup. Tejada could potentially be the
lone Astro unless Wandy Rodriguez or Carlos Lee is selected.


Starters: Ryan Braun, Raul Ibanez, Alfonso Soriano
Backups: Carlos Beltran, Justin Upton, Adam Dunn, Brad Hawpe

Soriano is currently 33,000 votes up on Beltran for the last starting
spot. Cubs tend to do extremely well in the voting, so I’m guessing
he’ll increase that lead, even though Beltran is the more deserving
player. If Beltran does get it, then Soriano wouldn’t seem to have a
very good chance of making the club as a reserve, potentially opening
up a spot for Mike Cameron or Nate McLouth.

The other reserves seem like clear choices. The top six outfielders
in OPS are all represented here (Ibanez, Hawpe, Upton, Beltran, Dunn
and Braun), and Hawpe would probably be the only Rockie. If Dunn gets
ripped off again, that could open up a spot for Cameron. Cameron has
been to just one All-Star Game, that coming in 2001, and this would
seem to be his last good chance to go to a second.


Starters: Johan Santana, Chad Billingsley, Tim Lincecum, Yovani Gallardo, Wandy Rodriguez, Josh Johnson, Johnny Cueto
Relievers: Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Broxton, Heath Bell, Trevor Hoffman, Francisco Cordero

Obviously, when it comes to pitchers, a great deal will depend on
who is scheduled to work the Sunday before the All-Star Game and who
isn’t. Odds are that either Lincecum or Cain will go from the Giants,
but not both. Other starting pitchers shaping up as options are Dan
Haren, Jair Jurrjens, Zach Duke, Jake Peavy, Adam Wainwright, Derek
Lowe and Ted Lilly.

Spending bill could exempt minor leaguers from federal labor laws

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Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post reports that, according to three congressional officials familiar with current talks, an upcoming spending bill could exempt minor leaguers from federal labor laws. This is an issue we have spent some time covering here. A bill proposed in 2016, H.R. 5580, would have amended language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which would have made it so minor leaguers wouldn’t be protected under a law that protects hourly workers. There is also an ongoing class action lawsuit over unfair labor prospects.

As DeBonis notes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is among the representatives backing the measure. The provision specifically concerning minor leaguers didn’t appear in any of the draft spending bills, but DeBonis spoke to officials familiar with the negotiations under the condition of anonymity who said it was under serious consideration by top party leaders.

DeBonis got a comment from Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner. He said, “We’re not saying that [minor league pay] shouldn’t go up. We’re just saying that the formula of minimum wage and overtime is so incalculable. I would hate to think that a prospect is told, ‘You got to go home because you’re out of hours, you can’t have any extra batting practice.’ It’s those kinds of things. It’s not like factory work. It’s not like work where you can punch a time clock and management can project how many hours they’re going to have to pay for.”

O’Conner said as much in an interview back in December. It’s an extremely disingenuous deflection. O’Conner also said, “I don’t think that minor league baseball is a career choice for a player.” This is all about creating legislation that allows Minor League Baseball to keep money at the top, which is great if you’re a team owner or shareholder. If they could get away with it, every owner of every business would pay its employees as little as possible, which is why it’s important to have unions and people keeping an eye on legislation like this that attempts to strip laborers of their rights in the dead of night.

Minor league players need to unionize. Or, better yet, the MLBPA should open their doors to include minor leaguers and fight for them just as they would a player who has reached the majors. Minor leaguers should be paid a salary with which they do not have to worry about things like rent, electricity, food, and transportation. They should be provided healthcare and a retirement fund. And if anyone tries to tell you it’s not affordable, MLB eclipsed $10 billion in revenues last year. There’s plenty to go around.

The owners are banking on this legislation passing and labor still coming in excess due to young men holding onto the dream of making the major leagues. According to CNN, “far less than 10 percent of minor league players ever get the chance to make it to the major leagues.” Some of these players have forgone college to work in baseball. They arrive at the park in the morning and leave late at night, putting in far more than your standard eight-hour work day. Since their bodies are their vehicle for success, they have to exercise regularly and vigorously off the field while maintaining a healthy diet. (And teams are still reluctant to invest even the smallest amount of money to ensure their young players eat well.) Minor leaguers make tremendous sacrifices to pursue their dream and now Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying Congress to legalize taking further advantage of them.