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.

Mets activate Travis d’Arnaud, place Tommy Milone on disabled list

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The Mets announced on Wednesday that catcher Travis d'Arnaud has been activated from the 10-day disabled list and pitcher Tommy Milone has been placed on the 10-day DL.

d’Arnaud, 28, was placed on the DL on May 5 (retroactive to May 3) with a bone bruise on his right wrist. The Mets’ backstop appeared to have suffered the injury in mid-April when he accidentally hit his hand on the bat of the opposing hitter when he was making a throw. d’Arnaud resumes with a .203/.288/.475 triple-slash line with four home runs and 16 RBI in 66 plate appearances.

Milone, 30, made three mostly forgettable starts for the Mets, yielding 15 runs (14 earned) on 19 hits and seven walks with 12 strikeouts in 12 innings. Newsday’s Marc Carig says that, with Milone out, either Rafael Montero or Josh Smoker will start on Saturday with Smoker being more likely to get the nod.

Report: John Farrell may be on the hot seat

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The Red Sox, who won the AL East last season with a 93-69 record, have under-performed so far this season, entering Wednesday’s action with just two more wins than losses at 23-21. The club hasn’t had a winning streak of more than two games since April 15-18. As a result, manager John Farrell may be on the hot seat, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported on Tuesday.

Beyond the mediocre record, Rosenthal cites two incidents that happened this season that caused Farrell’s stock to drop. The first was the brouhaha with the Orioles when Manny Machado slid into Dustin Pedroia at second base, causing Pedroia to suffer an injury. When reliever Matt Barnes intentionally threw a fastball at Machado, Pedroia was seen telling Machado, “It wasn’t me. It’s them.” The word “them,” of course, would ostensibly be referring to Barnes and Farrell.

The second incident happened last week when pitcher Drew Pomeranz challenged Farrell in the dugout after being removed with a pitch count of 97. Rosenthal suggests that some of Farrell’s players aren’t on the same page as the skipper.

Rosenthal also mentions that Farrell didn’t have the entire backing of the Red Sox clubhouse in 2013, when the club won the World Series. So the issues this year may not be unique; they may be part of a larger trend.

The biggest impediment in making a managerial change for the Red Sox is having a good candidate. After letting Torey Lovullo leave after last season to manage the Diamondbacks, the team’s two most likely interim candidates would be bench coach Gary DiSarcina and third base coach Brian Butterfield. DiSarcina has one year of managing experience above Single-A (Triple-A Pawtucket in 2013). Butterfield hasn’t managed in 15 years.