Kevin Youkilis is preparing for third base

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The Red Sox have a tricky offseason ahead of them. They have to figure out if they can bring Adiran Beltre back, and if not, what to do about third base. Or maybe first base, because Kevin Youkilis is being a team player and is talking like he’s ready and eager to take over the hot corner:

“I’m preparing myself to play third base because if you prepare yourself to play third base and you play first, it’s an easy transition. So, for me, I try and prepare myself mentally to play third. I’ll probably take a little more ground balls this year, but hopefully we’ll find out sooner than later . . . I love third base. I love playing it, I enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun. I would love to play third base, but wherever the team needs me I’ll play.”

If he is capable of handling third base — and my guess is that he would be at least acceptable over there — it makes the Red Sox way more flexible as they try to fill holes. Maybe you go with Beltre, but maybe not. Maybe you go after a portly, second-generation major league slugger who plays first base instead. There are simply more options out there with Youkilis at third, even if, long term, he’s better off at first. After all, worst case scenario: either Youkilis or whatever masher comes in moves to DH next year or whenever it is the Red Sox get tired of David Ortiz.

MLB now trying to get minor leaguers exempted from minimum wage law at the state level

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In recent years, Major League Baseball spent significant amounts of money lobbying Congress to exempt minor leaguers from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. They succeeded last year, as minor leaguers are now considered seasonal workers and as such are not owed minimum wage or overtime pay.

MLB is not yet done attacking minor leaguers. Ben Giles of the Arizona Capitol Times reports that MLB is trying to get Arizona lawmakers to exempt players from state minimum wage law. A proposed bill, HB 2180, is being sponsored by Rep. T.J. Shope (R – Coolidge) and would protect MLB from lawsuits, past or present, for not paying minor leaguers at least minimum wage during spring training. Minor leaguers already do not get paid for their work in spring training, so this is simply a preemptive maneuver by MLB to protect itself from potential lawsuits. As Giles notes, HB 2180 would enshrine the exemption in federal law in Arizona’s state statute.

Shope said, “I think it’s just trying to clear up what MLB considers a gray area on their blank. … My assumption is they obviously do have a concern, and are trying to protect a flank of theirs more in the pro-active sense.” Talking about minor leaguers, Shope said spring training is “essentially a tryout. You’re not on the team yet.”

Garrett Broshuis, a former major leaguer and one of the lawyers representing Aaron Senne, Michael Liberto, and Oliver Odle in a case Craig wrote about here, spoke to Giles for his article. Broshuis said, “It really is just unfortunate, because the people of Arizona passed this law to require employers to pay all workers a minimum wage, and these ballplayers are performing a service that is a valuable service, and they deserve to be compensated at least the minimum wage for it.”

Broshuis is seeking class action status in a lawsuit against Major League Baseball in Florida and Arizona, the league’s two homes for spring training. Arizona is home to the Cactus League, the spring training league for the Angels, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Reds, Indians, Rockies, White Sox, Royals, Dodgers, Brewers, Athletics, Padres, Giants, Mariners, and Rangers. A federal judge denied Broshuis’s request but he appealed and is waiting on a ruling.

MLB makes a ton of money during spring training the same way it makes money during the regular season: by charging for tickets, concessions, merchandise, and parking. Minor leaguers are part of the player population helping attract fans to the ballpark, so they deserve to be compensated for their work. That they are not is criminal enough, but to brazenly push legislation to remove any legal remedies they might have had is even more evil. MLB has been setting revenue records year over year, taking in more than $10 billion last year. The league and its individual teams can afford to provide a comfortable life for minor leaguers, but every day it makes the choice not to do so out of avarice.