Rejuvenated Andruw Jones leads the way as Yankees down Red Sox

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Figuring his right-handed stroke would serve him well at Fenway Park, the Red Sox pursued Andruw Jones for a part-time role over the winter. Andruw, though, had fun in his first year in the Bronx and opted to stick around, perhaps passing up some money in the process.

For a measly $2 million — one percent of the Yankees’ payroll — Jones has 11 homers this season, including four in the last three games. He delivered a two-run blast and an RBI single tonight as part of the Yankees’ 7-3 win in Boston.

The Red Sox lost three out of four in the series to fall back to .500 (43-43) with the first half over. They’re a full nine games back of the Yankees (52-33).

For what it’s worth, missing out on Jones probably didn’t hurt the Red Sox. If they had signed Andruw, it’s doubtful they would have added Cody Ross later, and Ross has hit .265 with 13 homers and 40 RBI in 56 games this year.

Still, Jones has been a bargain for the Bombers two years running now, delivering 24 homers and 55 RBI in 317 at-bats as a member of the Yankees.

Jones has played pretty strictly against lefties, but there’s little reason to think he wouldn’t be at least adequate in regular playing time. He hasn’t hit for average in limited action against righties the last two years, but he’s barely gotten to face them and he’s still showed good power against them. Also, while he certainly can’t cover ground like he used to, he’s still a pretty good defender in a corner.

That Jones has spent the last few years as a role player — he hasn’t had even 300 at-bats in a season since 2007 — could well cost him a chance at the Hall of Fame. But that’s probably not fair. As great of a defender as he used to be, he played at a Hall of Fame level at his peak. And while the fact that he’s hitting 15 homers per year now instead of 25 will hurt his career numbers,  he’s contributing more as a role player than Hall of Famers like Jim Rice, Roberto Alomar and Lou Brock did as regulars towards the end of their careers.

That said, the fact that he was done as a regular at age 30 is damning, even if he ends up getting to 500 homers. At age 35, he’s just 69 away, so he still has a legitimate shot.

Minor League Baseball teams sold over $70 million in merchandise in 2017

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Every so often here, we discuss the criminally low pay of Minor League Baseball players. Most of them make less than $7,500 a year, which includes the regular season as well as spring training, playoffs, and offseason training. The abysmal pay forces minor leaguers to eat unhealthy food, live in cramped quarters, and forego consistent, quality sleep, among other things.

What makes this situation worse is that Minor League Baseball is a huge money-maker for their parent teams in Major League Baseball. Josh Norris of Baseball America reported yesterday that Minor League Baseball teams sold $70.8 million in merchandise in 2017. That represented a 3.6 percent increase over the previous record set in 2016. This is just merchandise. Now think about concession and ticket sales.

Minor League Baseball COO Brian Earle said, “Minor League Baseball team names and logos continue to be among the most popular in all of professional sports, and our teams have made promoting their brand a priority for their respective organizations. The teams have done a tremendous job of using their team marks and logos to build an identity that is appealing to fans not just locally, but in some cases, globally as well.”

You may recall that Major League Baseball had been lobbying Congress to pass legislation exempting minor league players from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Doing so classified baseball players as seasonal workers, which means they are not entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay. That legislation passed earlier this year. Minor League Baseball generates profits hand over fist and it is now legally protected from having to share that with the labor that produced it.

Many points of divergence led us to this point, but the question is how do we change it? Minor leaguers are routinely taken advantage of because they don’t have a union. Compare the minors in baseball to the minors in hockey, where minor leaguers have a union. As SB Nation’s Marc Normandin pointed out last month, the minimum salary for American Hockey League players is $45,000 and the average salary is $118,000. They receive a playoff share of around $20,000, and receive health insurance that covers themselves as well as their families. Furthermore, the minor league hockey players’ per diem is $74, about three times as much as minor league baseball players’ per diem of $25.

Major League Baseball and its 30 teams have shown no inclination towards treating minor league players simply out of moral obligation or good will, so the minor leaguers need union coverage to force their conditions to improve. This could be as simple as the MLBPA expanding its coverage to the minor leagues because, after all, some minor leaguers do become major leaguers, right? Or the minor leaguers could themselves create a union. It’s easy to say, but tougher to do, which is why they still don’t have a union.

At any rate, every fan of baseball should be enraged when they read that Minor League Baseball keeps setting records year after year when it comes to selling hats and t-shirts, then refuses to share any of that wealth with the labor responsible for it. It’s morally reprehensible.