Must-Click Link: playing baseball for $12K a year

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Ted Berg at USA Today has a good story today focusing on the life of a woefully underpaid minor leaguer: Kyle Johnson of the New York Mets.

Johnson is one of the dozens of players who have joined in the lawsuit against Major League Baseball alleging that the extraordinarily low wages paid to minor leaguers is violative of the Fair Labor Standards Act. That case has wound its way through court for a couple of years now and will continue to do so, but in the meantime the lives of minor leaguers who are not on the 40-man roster or who, like Johnson, did not receive large signing bonuses (he got $5,000) continue to be rough ones. Especially if you have a family to support.

As Berg notes, if each and every minor leaguer were given a $30,000 raise — which would take them from sub-minimum wage compensation to a level where one could at least reasonably live — it would cost each organization $7.5 million. While that’s a lot of money, it’s not hard to see examples of clubs practically throwing away that kind of money. More modest raises, which would at least get players off of shared rooms filled with air mattresses during the season and out of multiple part time jobs in the offseason, would obviously cost less.

Ultimately, though, this is less about any specific dollar amount than it is about the overall state of affairs in which ballclubs treat their minor leaguers as if they were seasonal help rather than employees and in which their wages have less actual purchasing power now than they had 40 years ago. That state of affairs is bad when it exists in the economy at large. It’s inexcusable in baseball, which is more flush with money than it ever has been.

Go read Ted’s story about Kyle Johnson. It’s today’s must-read.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.