Jake Peavy

Winners and losers at the trade deadline

42 Comments

Given how disappointing this afternoon’s trade deadline proved to be, it’s only fair that the annual winners and losers column is a little lopsided. Let’s get right to it:

Winners

Red Sox: I didn’t like the idea of Boston giving up top prospects for Jake Peavy because I just didn’t see him being a big upgrade over the rest of their candidates for the postseason rotation. Parting with Jose Iglesias for him, on the other hand, is something I can get behind. Iglesias had an incredible run for the Red Sox earlier this season, but he was a lifetime .257/.307/314 hitter in the minors. He had a .588 OPS in 829 Triple-A at-bats.  And while he was still at .330 for Boston this season, he had returned to earth in a big way this month, batting .205/.247/.217 in 83 at-bats during July. I think Iglesias will be a useful regular for a long time, but for a big-spending team like the Red Sox, he was always going to be expendable. They sold high when they sent him to Detroit in the three-team swap.

Angels: Getting Grant Green from the A’s for Alberto Callaspo was a nice little coup. Green is 25 and still doesn’t have a position, which is a problem, but he’s also hit .325/.379/.500 in Triple-A this year. The Angels should start working him out at third. Some will argue that the Angels should have moved Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar as well, but I’m not so sure. Both have reasonable contracts, and the Angels almost certainly would have downgraded had they tried to replace either in free agency this winter. They would have needed a big return to justify dealing either.

Braves: Many wanted the Braves to get a starter with Tim Hudson out. I think they’re just fine with a front six of Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, Paul Maholm, Brandon Beachy and Alex Wood. And getting the perpetually underrated Scott Downs from the Angels for Cory Rasmus was nice. I’m not positive how he does it, but Downs has a 1.76 ERA again this year. Last year’s 3.15 mark was his worst since 2006, and that was really the result of two bad weeks (nine of the 16 runs he allowed came in a stretch of five appearances).

Cardinals: The slumping Cardinals failed to add, but the important thing for them is that the Pirates and Reds didn’t make any additions, either. St. Louis is still the NL Central’s best team on paper, provided that Yadier Molina isn’t out for much more than the minimum 15 days with his sprained knee. All bets are off if his absence extends into September.

Cubs: The lack of action on Wednesday suggests that the Cubs were smart to move Matt Garza, Scott Feldman and Alfonso Soriano when they did. They clearly got a better return for Garza, a free agent at season’s end, than the White Sox did for Peavy, even though Peavy is locked up for another year.

Dodgers: Drew Butera, yo. But, no, the Dodgers are here for the same reason as the Cardinals. Maybe the Diamondbacks engaged in some addition by subtraction in shedding Ian Kennedy, but they didn’t do much addition by addition.

Losers

Mariners: Kendrys Morales, Oliver Perez, Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez and Joe Saunders are all going to be free agents this winter, and the 50-56 Mariners, remaining stubborn under GM Jack Zduriencik’s guidance, didn’t cash any of them in. Morales and Perez would have brought significant returns. At least some of the other teams that declined to sell could have chances to get deals done in August, but I’m not sure any of the Mariners listed above will clear waivers, limiting the team’s options.

Royals: Winners of seven in a row to move to 52-51 on the season, the Royals refused to sell. Which is understandable. But the fact that they did choose to buy, acquiring outfielder Justin Maxwell from the Astros, and still didn’t land an upgrade from Chris Getz at second base is tough to take. It’s not like they needed a star; they’ve gotten so little production from second base for years now that just about anything would have done.

Indians: One of the rumors going around Wednesday was that the Indians were aiming for a big-time starter. Instead, they stayed quiet; their only deadline pickup was lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski, who was unwanted by the Cardinals. Something to energize the fanbase in Cleveland would have been welcome; the Indians have the AL’s sixth-best record, so they’re right in the thick of things.

Blue Jays: The Blue Jays could have cashed in closer Casey Janssen and turned a tidy profit. They also had a couple of nice role players in Emilio Bonifacio and Rajai Davis to dangle. They did nothing.

White Sox: The White Sox’s top picks in the 2009, 2011 and 2012 drafts were outfielders (Chris Sale was the choice in 2010). Baseball America said their No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5 prospects at the start of the season were outfielders. Yet when they chose to deal Peavy, they did it for another outfielder, getting Avisail Garcia from the Tigers. They also dealt Matt Thornton to Boston for an outfielder (Brandon Jacobs) earlier in the month. In the abstract, I don’t mind Peavy for Garcia. It’s decent value. The White Sox, though, have questions throughout the infield and a dearth of young pitching in the minors. I’m not sure what they’re building.

Phillies: Ruben Amaro Jr. is still likely shocked and appalled that no team was willing to surrender two top prospects for Michael Young. The Michael Young.

Marlins: OK, so the Marlins didn’t put Giancarlo Stanton on the block yet. That’s fine. But then they wouldn’t talk about relievers Steve Cishek and Michael Dunn. Even more incredibly, they weren’t even interested in picking up a prospect for a 34-year-old Chad Qualls today. The only thing I can figure is that the commissioner’s office and the MLBPA is back whispering in the Marlins’ ears about their use of revenue sharing money.

Giants: The flagging Giants had a chance to refuel the farm system a bit, which could have been a silver lining in a very disappointing season. Instead, they held on to Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum and even Javier Lopez. Maybe they’ll get compensation picks if Pence and Lincecum leave as free agents or maybe they’ll even deal Lincecum in August, but with plenty of contenders looking for a middle-of-the-order bat and starting pitching, it’s disappointing that they resisted overtures.

Astros clubhouse attendants: Good luck with those end-of-season tips. With Bud Norris, Carlos Pena and Jose Veras gone, Erik Bedard in now the highest-paid Astro at $1.15 million this season. That’s about what Alex Rodriguez makes per week.

Adams homers in 16th to lift Cardinals over Dodgers 4-3

adams
Getty Images
4 Comments

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
14 Comments

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.