Hunter Pence providing no protection for Buster Posey


The Giants acquired Hunter Pence to drive in runs hitting behind Buster Posey. And that’s exactly what he did in the regular season. In 59 games after coming over from the Phillies, Pence racked up 45 RBI. That pace would have led the NL had he maintained it for the full year.

Of course, it’s been a different story in the postseason. Pence hasn’t driven in a single run in eight games to date. He’s 5-for-31 with no extra-base hits and just one walk. In Wednesday’s loss, he hit with five men on base and advanced none of them. After Posey was intentionally walked to get to him in the third, he hit into a double play.

Pence also went 0-for-9 in his final three regular-season games, leaving him with a .125 average in his last 11 games overall.

Perhaps the Giants should have seen this coming. For all of the runs batted in, Pence didn’t exactly set the world afire after arriving in July. He hit just .219 with seven homers in 219 at-bats. His season OPS of .742 was his lowest in six years as a major leaguer.

Still, since the Giants decided not to activate Melky Cabrera, they’ve pretty much backed themselves into a corner with their outfield situation. They may replace Pence in the fifth spot behind Posey, but there aren’t any attractive options as replacements. The most likely option would involve moving Gregor Blanco up to the third spot and dropping Pablo Sandoval to fifth. Pence will remain in the starting lineup either way, but he may bat sixth or seventh in Thursday’s Game 4.

Congress to pass bill depriving minor leaguers of minimum wage rights

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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.