What we're watching – June 30

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– Tim Lincecum dominated Albert Pujols and the rest of the Cardinals
with a two-hit shutout on Monday. Now St. Louis will try to even up the
series with Chris Carpenter on the mound. Carpenter has lost two of his
last three starts with the Cardinals’ offense struggling, but he still
hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start this season. He’s 5-2
with a 1.78 ERA. 302-game winner Randy Johnson will get the ball for
the Giants. The Cardinals are one of three teams against which he has a
losing record over the course of at least a dozen starts. The Yankees
and Mets are the other two. Albert Pujols is 9-for-21 with three homers
and three doubles off him, giving him a .429/.478/1.000 line.

– John Smoltz will look to bounce back from a rough Boston debut
when he faces the Orioles in Baltimore. Smoltz showed pretty good stuff
last week, but he gave up five runs over five innings in a loss to the
Nationals. The Orioles will counter with Rich Hill as they try to avoid
what would be a ninth straight loss to the Red Sox at Camden Yards.
Hill is 3-2 with a 6.03 ERA in eight starts.

– While the Red Sox have been remarkably solid, they’re not opening
up any wider of a lead in the AL East. The Yankees will go for their
sixth straight win tonight at home against the Mariners. It will be a
matchup of relievers-turned-starters Brandon Morrow and Joba
Chamberlain. Also, the Rays will go for their seventh straight victory
versus the team the recently overtook for third place in the East, the
Blue Jays. The AL East currently boasts the teams with the first,
second, fifth and seventh best records in the AL.

Game of the Night

Colorado vs. L.A. Dodgers – The two teams played what was probably
Monday’s game of the night, with the Dodgers winning on an Andre Ethier
walkoff homer on the 13th. Tonight’s game will feature a pair of
starters trying to become the NL’s first to 10 victories (unless Johan
Santana, in a game being played two hours earlier, beats them to it).
Jason Marquis is 9-5 with a 4.22 ERA. He beat the Dodgers in his
previous start against the team this year, throwing 7 1/3 innings of
three-run ball back on April 26. Chad Billingsley is 9-3 with a 3.10
ERA. He’s also 1-0 against his opponent tonight, as he beat Aaron Cook
by allowing three runs in six innings on April 18.

Minor League Baseball established a political action committee to fight paying players more

DURHAM, NC - JULY 28:  The Chicago White Sox play the Most Valuable Prospects during the championship game of the 2011 Breakthrough Series at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on July 28, 2011 in Durham, North Carolina.  Most Valuable Prospects won 17-2 over the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
Sara D. Davis/Getty Images
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Josh Norris of Baseball America reports that Minor League Baseball has established a political action committee to continue fighting against a lawsuit brought by a group of former minor league players seeking increased wages and back pay.

You may recall that, earlier this year, two members of Congress — Republican Brett Guthrie of Kentucky and Democrat Cheri Bustos of Illinois — introduced H.R. 5580 in the House of Representatives. Also known as the “Save America’s Pastime Act,” H.R. 5580 sought to change language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. In doing so, minor leaguers wouldn’t have been covered under a law that protects workers who are paid hourly. Minor League Baseball publicly endorsed the bill. Bustos withdrew her support after receiving widespread criticism.

The whole thing started when Sergio Miranda filed a lawsuit in 2014, accusing Major League Baseball teams of colluding to eliminate competition. The lawsuit challenged the reserve clause, which binds minor leaguers into contracts with their teams for seven years. That suit was dismissed in September 2015. However, another lawsuit was filed in October last year — known as Senne vs. the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball — alleging that minor leaguers were victims of violations of state and federal minimum wage laws. Senne et. al. suffered a setback this summer when U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco dismissed class certification. That essentially meant that the players could not file a class-action lawsuit. As a result, the players’ legal team led by Garrett Broshuis amended their case to only include players who play in one league for an entire season. As Norris notes, that means that the included players’ experiences are uniform enough for inclusion in a class-action lawsuit.

So that’s why Minor League Baseball established a political action committee (PAC). A PAC, for the unfamiliar, is an organization created with the intent of raising money to defeat a particular candidate, legislation, or ballot initiative. In other words, they’re getting serious and want Capitol Hill’s help.

Minor League Baseball president Stan Brand said, “Because of procedurally what has happened in the Congress and the difficulties in getting legislation, we’ve got to adjust to that. We were lucky. We had the ability because of the depth of the relationships and involvement in the communities to not have to worry about that. And now we do, I think. The PAC . . . gives us another tool to re-enforce who we are and why we’re important.”

Norris mentions in his column that Phillies minor league outfielder Dylan Cozens received the Joe Baumann Award for leading the minors with 40 home runs. That came with an $8,000 prize. Cozens said that the prize was more than he made all season. The minor league regular season spanned from April 7 to September 5, about six months. Athletes aren’t paid in the other six months which includes offseason training and spring training. They are also not paid for participating in instructional leagues and the Arizona Fall League. Minor leaguers lack union representation, which is why their fight for fair pay has been such an uphill battle.

Report: White Sox, Nationals making “strong progress” on a Chris Sale deal

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Starting pitcher Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox deliivers the ball against the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field on September 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the White Sox and Nationals are making “strong progress” on a trade involving ace Chris Sale. Most reports coming out on Monday night suggest that a deal isn’t likely to be consummated until Tuesday at the earliest.

Sale, 27, has pitched in the majors over parts of seven seasons. He owns a career 74-50 record with a 3.00 ERA and a 1,244/260 K/BB ratio in 1,110 innings. The lefty will earn $12 million in 2017, then has a club option for 2018 worth $12.5 million with a $1 million buyout as well as a 2019 club option worth $13.5 million with a $1 million buyout. Relative to what he would earn if he were a free agent today, Sale’s remaining salary is a bargain.

The Nationals would likely have to part with several of their top prospects. MLB Pipeline lists pitcher Lucas Giolito, outfielder Victor Robles, and pitcher Reynoldo Lopez in the club’s top-three.

Adding Sale would arguably give the Nationals claim to the best starting rotation in baseball as he would join 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.

There are other teams in the mix for Sale. The Red Sox and Astros have also talked with the White Sox about the lefty’s services.