St Louis Cardinals v Colorado Rockies

Colby Rasmus’ father is at it again, says it’s “fairly obvious” his son needs to be traded…

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Just six months ago, we discovered the father of Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus taking public jabs at the organization that his son plays for on a fan blog called The Cardinal Nation.

Winter has passed and the dog days of the 2011 regular season have nearly set in. St. Louis stands alone atop the National League Central and boasts one of the best records in baseball at 38-27. Tony Rasmus, though, is still jabbing away.

In a Cardinal Nation post dated to last Sunday at 9:17am Central Time, the elder Rasmus writes:

Alberts not going anywhere. He’ll end his career right where he sits today, St. Louis. He’ll get 7 or 8 years, over 200 million, and he deserves it. He is the type of player that St. Louis covets and there could be no positive to come out of letting him go elsewhere.

With Albert, Matt, Waino, Jaime, and Yadi leading the way and really good young players in Craig, Jay, Freese, M Carpenter, Salas, Sanchez, Descalso already making a name for themselves and Chambers, Ryan Jackson on the move to the show, the cardinals will be right at the top of the division for every one of Albert’s years in St. Louis. He is not a dummy. He is a GOD here, and the team will remain winners for the duration of his career.

You’ll notice that Tony Rasmus left out his son’s name when listing the players that will be “leading the way” for the Cardinals in the future. A Cardinal Nation commenter probed for more. Here’s Tony’s response:

I believe its fairly obvious that Colby needs to be somewhere else. I highly doubt he will be in St. Louis for the Albert Pujol’s new contract duration. I don’t think Colby will ever be good enough to play in St. Louis. But I knew this way back.

First let’s tackle that last part, where Tony suggests that Colby “will never be good enough to play in St. Louis.” Tony isn’t talking about defensive or offensive production, he’s talking about fanbase perception.

Rasmus is plenty popular and plenty well-liked in most circles of Cardinals supporters, but he makes semi-regular miscues at a position that was manned for a long time by Jim Edmonds, one of the greatest defensive center fielders in the history of the sport. Add to that the fact that Colby has been streaky at the plate this season and isn’t especially eloquent in interviews, and you get a few outlying fans who have wondered aloud whether he should be shopped around. That call for a trade, though only mildly audible, even spawned a column from St. Louis Post-Dispatch big dog Bernie Miklasz on Wednesday.

Colby isn’t completely innocent in all of this. You might remember from this winter’s controversy that Rasmus has already requested two trades in his two-plus seasons with the major league club. He’s had trouble growing comfortable with Tony La Russa’s managing style, which calls for an active 25-man roster and frequent playing time for backups, and there are times when Colby has operated too passively in center field.

It looked early on this season like Rasmus and La Russa had mended their issues. Colby opened with a shiny .290/.374/.450 batting line in the month of April. He had a quality .873 OPS on May 12. But he’s tallied just 19 hits in his last 94 at-bats and went 0-for-7 last weekend in Chicago, the same weekend Tony Rasmus decided to speak up again about his problems with the Cardinals organization on a fan blog.

By all accounts the father and son talk often. Tony spoke of a recent hitting session that he ran for Colby in some of these same Cardinal Nation comment threads, and it’s possible that the two shared a conversation after Colby’s frustrating weekend at Wrigley Field. Which is why we’re suspecting, for the second time in six months, that Tony Rasmus might be in his kid’s ear about pushing for an exit from the Cardinals.

A Rasmus trade would be bad business. He’s earning just $443,000 this year and will be a cost-effective player for another three seasons. Not to mention, he’s one of the top five all-around center fielders in the game at present. If the Cardinals are going to buck up and commit $200 million or more to a long-term pact with Albert Pujols, they’ll need production from inexpensive players, and Raz works right into that strategy.

Colby is in the starting lineup more frequently than ever before here in 2011 and seems to be getting along just fine with La Russa. But perhaps something is brewing in the clubhouse, and what happens if Colby’s current slump runs deeper into the summer? What if Tony Rasmus’ opinions about the way his son is perceived in St. Louis lead to trade request No. 3? It’d be truly unfortunate timing for the red-hot Redbirds.

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.