Odds: Over/under win totals for National League teams

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Bookmaker.com has posted its initial over/under odds for regular season team wins. Here are the National League totals (for entertainment purposes only, of course):

Phillies          97
Giants            88
Braves            88
Rockies           87
Reds              86.5
Brewers           85.5
Cardinals         83.5
Dodgers           83
Cubs              82
Marlins           81.5
Mets              77
Padres            76
Diamondbacks      72.5
Astros            72.5
Nationals         72
Pirates           67

Just about everyone would agree that the Phillies are clearly the class of the National League and probably enter the season as World Series favorites, but 97 wins is an exceptionally high baseline for even a great on-paper team. For example, the last NL team to win more than 97 games was the Cardinals in 2005 and a total of just six NL teams have topped 97 wins since 2000. Philadelphia is definitely capable of joining that group, but I’m not sure it makes sense to bet on it.

Colorado also stands out as a strong “under” bet at 87 wins considering they won 83 games last season and didn’t really make any significant offseason additions. Plus, it’s not as if Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki can be much better than they were in 2010. I’m also not sure I see why the Cubs have an over/under as high as 82 wins after going 75-87 last season. They should be better after adding Carlos Pena and Matt Garza, but it’s tough imagine them being much above .500.

Adrian Gonzalez is really good and San Diego came out of nowhere last season, but setting their over/under at 76 wins seems pretty low coming off a 90-win campaign. I’d be surprised if they aren’t at least around .500. Arizona also seems like a solid “over” bet at 72.5 wins, as their historically awful bullpen–much like Seattle’s historically inept lineup in the AL–almost can’t help but be much better, particularly if J.J. Putz stays healthy.

With the caveat that I haven’t exactly spent a lot of time breaking down projections and crunching numbers to come up with these opinions, I like the Padres, Diamondbacks, and Mets the most for “over” and the Phillies, Rockies, and Cubs the most for “under.”

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.