David Robertson’s woes a worry for Yankees


With Rafael Soriano and left fielder Ichiro Suzuki combining to bail him out of an eighth-inning jam, David Robertson didn’t take his fourth loss in his last 10 appearances today in the first game of a doubleheader against the Blue Jays.  He came pretty close, though.

Robertson gave up hits to four of the six batters he faced and allowed two runs while getting two outs today. His struggles forced the Yankees to bring in their closer in the eighth, something they certainly didn’t want to do in the first of two games on the day.

Now they’ll enter the second game versus Toronto with their closer having already thrown 23 pitches today and the setup man 26, making one wonder how they might deal with a late lead should one arise.

Robertson, who is 1-7 on the year, has allowed seven runs in nine innings this month. On the plus side, it’s not due to walks, which were an early career problem for him. In fact, he has an 11/0 K/BB ratio in September. He also has a fine 2.98 ERA for the season. He is getting hit, though. He’s given up five homers and 50 hits in 54 1/3 innings this season. Last year, he allowed one homer and 40 hits in 66 2/3 innings.

Yankees pitchers are pretty much conditioned to go seven innings a start. In fact, Yankees starters have recorded a total of one out after the seventh inning this month (Phil Hughes went 7 1/3 innings against Boston last week). Robertson is going to be a very important piece in any deep run into the postseason. Nothing in the way he’s throwing suggests that he can’t bounce back, but if he doesn’t, the Bombers are going to have problems.

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.