Daily Dose: Texas loses Hamilton, McCarthy

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Josh Hamilton’s stay on the disabled list was extended Monday, as the
Rangers announced that he’ll miss another 4-6 weeks after undergoing
surgery to repair a partially torn abdominal muscle. Hamilton had been
hoping to avoid going under the knife, but decided otherwise when the
pain persisted following his trip to the DL last week and a second
opinion confirmed the need for surgery.

Hamilton being out has Texas going with David Murphy in left field,
Marlon Byrd in center field, and Nelson Cruz in right field, as manager
Ron Washington opted for that alignment in seven of the past eight
games. That outfield leaves Andruw Jones and Hank Blalock in a fairly
strict platoon at designated hitter, with Blalock getting the starts
against right-handed pitching.

While the Rangers try to hold onto first place in the AL West sans Hamilton, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Along with losing Hamilton, the Rangers also discovered Monday
that Brandon McCarthy will be sidelined indefinitely with a stress
fracture in his shoulder. He’ll be completely shut down for several
weeks and a similar injury in 2007 kept him out for over a month.
McCarthy went 5-2 with a 4.92 ERA and 44/26 K/BB ratio in 11 starts,
but this marks his fourth trip to the disabled list in three seasons.

Doug Mathis was called up from Triple-A to step in for McCarthy on
Tuesday, but he lacks fantasy upside and ultimately the rotation spot
will probably be filled by Derek Holland once Matt Harrison returns
from the DL later this week. Holland is just 1-3 with a 6.54 ERA in
31.2 innings, but the 22-year-old southpaw has plenty of potential
after posting a 2.68 ERA and 245/64 K/BB ratio in the minors.

* Jeremy Bonderman came off the disabled list and Jose Contreras was
recalled from the minors Monday, and they faced off with dramatically
different results as the Game 2 matchup of a doubleheader in Chicago.
Contreras had gone 0-5 with an 8.19 ERA prior to being demoted to
Triple-A last month, but shut out Detroit for eight innings while
allowing just one hit and one walk.

Meanwhile, Bonderman struggled mightily in his 2009 debut as Chicago
knocked him around for six runs in four innings, including three
homers. He struck out just one batter and reports of decreased velocity
while rehabbing proved accurate as Bonderman initially threw 88-91
miles per hour before dropping to 87-89 late. For comparison, his
average fastball was 92.7 mph from 2003-2008.

AL Quick Hits: After undergoing an eye exam Monday, David Ortiz
was informed that he has 20-20 vision and given drops for dryness …
Adam Lind homered twice Monday and is now 14-for-29 (.483) with three
homers and five doubles in seven games this month … Detroit sent Ryan
Perry back to the minors Monday after the 2008 first-round pick walked
19 batters in 23 innings … Evan Longoria (hamstring) returned to the
lineup Monday after missing nearly a week’s worth of starts … J.D. Drew
(shoulder) is hoping to rejoin the lineup Tuesday after getting a
cortisone shot … Aaron Cunningham left Monday’s game after being hit on
the helmet by a pitch, although he stayed in long enough to score from
first base on a double … Jacoby Ellsbury is day-to-day with a sprained
shoulder after an MRI exam revealed no structural damage … Joe Crede
was scratched from Monday’s lineup with lingering calf soreness.

NL Quick Hits: Justin Upton sat out Monday’s game after injuring
his shoulder on a swing Sunday night … Sean West shut out the Giants
for eight innings Monday to pick up his first MLB victory … Khalil
Greene is slated to begin a minor-league rehab assignment at Triple-A
this week as he attempts to come back from social anxiety disorder …
Starting on short rest following his 300th win, Randy Johnson took his
165th loss by allowing three runs in five innings Monday … Clint Barmes
collected two hits Monday for his sixth straight multi-hit effort …
Jose Valverde (calf) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Wednesday
at Double-A … After blowing a save Sunday, Chad Qualls said that his
forearm tightness will probably linger … Out since May 24 with a
hamstring injury, Chris Iannetta is expected to come off the shelf
Tuesday … Jason Marquis improbably became the NL’s first eight-game
winner by allowing two runs in 6.2 innings Monday.

Adams homers in 16th to lift Cardinals over Dodgers 4-3

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ST. LOUIS — Matt Adams homered in the 16th inning to lead the Cardinals to a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night for St. Louis’ season-best fifth straight victory.

It was the second consecutive game that the Cardinals won in their final at-bat. They beat the Padres on Thursday after scoring a run in the ninth inning.

Adams homer came with one out off Bud Norris (5-9), who gave up six runs as a starter in an 8-1 loss at Washington on Wednesday.

Seth Maness (1-2) picked up the win with a scoreless inning of relief for St. Louis, which was playing its longest game of the season.

Jedd Gyorko hit a two-out homer off closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth to tie the game 3-3.

Justin Turner and Howie Kendrick homered for the Dodgers. Los Angeles has lost four of six. The red-hot Turner has seven homers and 17 RBI this month. He hit two homers in a 6-3 win over Washington on Thursday.

Turner blasted his career-high 18th homer of the season off Seung Hwan Oh in the ninth to break a 2-2 tie.

Corey Seager had four hits and drove in the first run of the game. He had hit in seven successive at-bats before flying out in the ninth.

Kendrick’s solo shot in the sixth tied the game 2-2. He has hit in 14 successive games trying Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the longest current streak in the majors.

Los Angeles starter Brandon McCarthy allowed one hit and two runs over 6 1-3 innings, the longest of his four starts this season. He left with leg cramps. McCarthy struck out four and walked three.

St. Louis starter Michael Wacha allowed two runs on 10 hits in six innings. He struck out four and walked one.

Dodgers reliever Adam Liberatore recorded his 28th successive scoreless outing by retiring two of four batters in the seventh. He has not allowed a run in 41 of 42 appearances this season.

Minor League Players’ Wage Suit against Major League Baseball suffers a huge setback

The judge's gavel is seen in court room 422 of the New York Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street February 3, 2012. REUTERS/Chip East
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A judge handed minor leaguers looking to hold Major League Baseball liable for underpaying and exploiting them a huge setback today, ruling that the case cannot go forward as a class action. Minor leaguers who want to sue over their pay and treatment still can, but they’ll have to do it individually. The ruling saps the minor leaguers of their leverage, as Major League Baseball would likely be able to fend off individual cases which, by themselves, might only amount to several thousand dollars per claim.

The background: in 2014, former Miami Marlins player Aaron Senne sued Major League Baseball, Bud Selig, and three major league clubs claiming that minor leaguers are underpaid and exploited in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. He was later joined by former Royals minor leaguer Michael Liberto and Giants farmhand Oliver Odle. Eventually others joined and the suit had been expanded to 22 teams as defendants.

The upshot of the case is that, while the minor league season lasts only part of the year, players are required to do all sorts of things outside of merely playing games for which they are not compensated. Training, meetings, appearances and the like. When all of that time is added up, the players claim, their already low salaries are effectively far below minimum wage in violation of the law. Major League Baseball has countered this by claiming that minor leaguers are basically part time seasonal workers — like landscapers and pool boys — who are not subject to federal labor laws.

Last year the judge gave the case conditional certification, allowing the players to try to establish that it should go forward as a class action. This would streamline the case from the plaintiffs’ perspective and give them the power of collective action by asserting hundreds or more similar cases into one proceeding. The judge’s ruling today, however, was that the cases really weren’t factually similar and thus collective action was not appropriate because figuring out how many hours each player worked and what was required of him varied too greatly among the players.

From his order:

“The difficulties associated with determining what activities constitute ‘work’ in the context of winter training are compounded by the fact that there appear to be no official records documenting these activities. Because it may be impossible to determine from official records the types of conditioning activities in which the players engaged, membership in the state classes based on winter training would depend largely upon the players’ ability to remember, with a reasonable amount of detail, what they did during the off-season (often for multiple years and for many, several years in the past) to stay fit.”

The judge said that, in light of this, each case would be unique and would require “individualized inquiries” to find damages and liability. That phrase –“individualized inquiries” — constitutes magic words which sink would-be class actions. If a company overcharges all of its customers by $8 due to an error repeated a million times, it’s easy to look at one set of facts and judge them together. If you had to look at a million different wrongs, that’s no class action. And so it is not a class action for the players.

As many courts who have dealt with these sorts of cases have noted, for many plaintiffs, a class action is the only practical method of adjudicating Fair Labor Standards Act cases because individual plaintiffs are frequently unable to bear the costs of separate trials. They are, by definition, (allegedly) exploited workers. They’re not going to be able to pay legal costs and fight off a multi-billion dollar business in order to collect the few thousand dollars they were underpaid. At the same time, however, the defendants have rights too and, if the facts of each players’ treatment truly differ (e.g. the Yankees make their minor leaguers do more than the Brewers do) it’s not fair to bind one defendant’s defense to the acts of another.

So, where does this leave the players? Not dead. Not yet, at least. Their claims have not been dismissed on the merits. They have only been denied the right to act collectively. The individual plaintiffs can now file separate lawsuits against their former employers and Major League Baseball under the same theories. It would be harder to land a big blow in such a scenario, but if enough do, it could end up being death by a thousand cuts for the clubs and the league. Their legal fees might go up and, eventually, if they lose enough of these cases, more might be filed. There are a lot of former minor leaguers, after all, and once there’s some blood in the water, more of them — and their lawyers — may enter the frenzy. Decertification is certainly a win for the league right now, but it’s not necessarily a permanent win.

There are likewise some other quasi-collective forms this case could take such as multi-district litigation in which the cases, while individual, are coordinated in a loose fashion. That could lead to some efficiencies for suing players even if it’s not as robust as a class action.

We’ve written quite a bit about minor league pay and treatment in this space by now, so you probably know where we stand on it. We believe that minor leaguers are exploited and underpaid and we believe that Major League Baseball has been happy to exploit and underpay them for some time. Ultimately we believe that this state of affairs cannot and will not persist and that eventually, somehow, baseball will either see fit to pay its workers fairly or, more likely, will be forced to do so by a court or by collective bargaining of some fashion.

Today, however, was a big setback for the minor leaguers. Today’s ruling will give Major League Baseball and its clubs more time and more comfort in which to underpay them. There’s no doubt about it.