Diving into the depths: New York Mets

Leave a comment

This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
New York Mets
1. Johan Santana
2. John Maine
3. Mike Pelfrey
4. Oliver Perez
5. Fernando Nieve
6. Jon Niese
7. Pat Misch
8. Nelson Figueroa
9. Tobi Stoner
10. Josh Fogg
11. Bobby Parnell
12. Elmer Dessens
13. Jack Egbert
14. R.A. Dickey
15. Jenrry Mejia
It’s hard to believe the Mets are really about to enter spring training with that rotation. Sure, there’s considerable upside, but Santana is coming off elbow surgery, Maine has had shoulder problems, Pelfrey had a 5.03 ERA last year and Perez is the biggest question mark of them all.
Nieve is supposed to enter spring training with a leg up on Niese, though that makes little sense to me. Nieve does have the talent to help the Mets as a starter, but he hasn’t turned in a healthy season since 2005.
1. Francisco Rodriguez
2. Kelvim Escobar
3. Pedro Feliciano
4. Ryota Igarashi
5. Bobby Parnell
6. Sean Green
7. Nelson Figueroa
8. Pat Misch
9. Fernando Nieve
10. Josh Fogg
11. R.A. Dickey
12. Clint Everts
13. Jack Egbert
14. Tobi Stoner
15. Elmer Dessens
16. Eddie Kunz
17. Arturo Lopez
18. Jay Marshall
The Mets opened up some additional bullpen competition by trading Brian Stokes for Gary Matthews Jr. They do have plenty of depth, particularly when it comes to swingmen. Figueroa, Misch, Nieve, Fogg, Dickey and Dessens are all capable of moving back and forth between the rotation and the pen. Still, they’re going to be hurting in the seventh and eighth innings if neither Escobar nor Igarashi comes through.

1. Omir Santos
2. Henry Blanco
3. Josh Thole
4. Chris Coste
First base
1. Daniel Murphy
2. Fernando Tatis
3. Frank Catalanotto
4. Mike Hessman
5. Ike Davis
6. Nick Evans
7. Chris Carter
8. Mike Cervenak
Second base
1. Luis Castillo
2. Alex Cora
3. Anderson Hernandez
4. Fernando Tatis
5. Russ Adams
1. Jose Reyes
2. Alex Cora
3. Anderson Hernandez
4. Andy Green
Third base
1. David Wright
2. Fernando Tatis
3. Mike Hessman
4. Mike Cervenak
5. Shawn Bowman
The Mets should be among the worst in the league at catcher and first base. Perhaps second base, too, unless Castillo can bounce back a bit defensively. I like Tatis, but the Mets probably would have been better off paying the price for Carlos Delgado and pushing Murphy into a reserve role.
Left field
1. Jason Bay
2. Angel Pagan
3. Gary Matthews Jr.
4. Fernando Tatis
5. Frank Catalanotto
6. Daniel Murphy
7. Fernando Martinez
8. Nick Evans
9. Chris Carter
Center field
1. Carlos Beltran
2. Angel Pagan
3. Gary Matthews Jr.
4. Fernando Martinez
Right field
1. Jeff Francoeur
2. Angel Pagan
3. Gary Matthews Jr.
4. Fernando Martinez
5. Fernando Tatis
Pagan deserves every opportunity to start in center field while Beltran is out at the beginning of the year. It’d be bad news for the Mets if Matthews hits .400 this spring and wins the job.

Congress to pass bill depriving minor leaguers of minimum wage rights

Getty Images

We saw this coming and wrote about it last weekend, but now it’s official: the new spending bill from Congress contains a gift for Major League and Minor League Baseball in the form of a provision classifying minor leaguers as seasonal workers, exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act. Practically speaking, this means that minor leaguers are not required to be paid minimum wage or have other basic protections to which even part-timers at fast food restaurants are entitled.

The relevant provision — buried on page 1,967 of the 2,232-page spending bill, which will get almost zero time to be read and processed by most people before it’s ultimately passed signed into law by tomorrow — is farcically entitled the “Save America’s Pastime Act.” It exempts from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 people who fit this description:

[A]ny employee employed to play baseball who is compensated pursuant to a contract that provides for a weekly salary for services performed during the league’s championship season (but not on spring training or the off season) at a rate that is not less than a weekly salary equal to the minimum wage under section 6(a) for a workweek of 40 hours, irrespective of the number of hours the employee devotes to baseball related activities.

It may be news to you that the multi-billion baseball industry, run by a few dozen billionaires and billion-dollar businesses, needed to be “saved” in such a fashion. Congress knew though. Maybe because Congress is so benevolent and wise. Or, maybe, because baseball’s lobbying operation spent millions plying Congressmen for this special law to keep it from having to pay workers a living wage.

Based on the response to our past writings on this topic, I suspect most of you won’t care all that much. You either believe that all or most of these players are wealthy via six or seven-figure signing bonuses or will make serious money in the big leagues one day. That’s not true, but many of you believe it. Or, alternatively, maybe you view minor leaguers as a bunch of kids farting around with a hobby until they start their “real life,” so why should they make a living wage?

To the extent you believe that and to the extent this does not bother you, I’d simply suggest that you ask how much money minor league and major league organizations make via the playing and marketing of minor league baseball and how much Major League Baseball benefits by having its training and development system costs legislatively controlled. Ask yourself whether the company that gave you your first entry-level position would’ve loved to have a law allowing it to pay you less than minimum wage and how you would’ve felt if that was the case in your situation. Ask yourself if anyone else would have cared all that much about the job you had when you were 22 and whether that would make a difference to you as you made the equivalent of $5 or $6 an hour for a multi-billion dollar business.

Maybe that still doesn’t sway you. But it doesn’t change the fact that this is a greedy cash grab by baseball which now, thanks to specially-requested government intervention, institutionalizes and legitimizes the exploitation of young men with very little power and even less money. That you may be OK with it doesn’t make it right. In fact, it’s very, very wrong.