Alex Rodriguez reportedly expects to be in Yankees’ starting lineup on Monday in Chicago

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Alex Rodriguez will file an appeal to his expected suspension and will be in the Yankees’ starting lineup on Monday, according to a report by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

Rodriguez faces a ban through the 2014 season, which is expected to be announced by Major League Baseball on Monday, according to NBC Sports sources. Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, players with pending appeals are allowed to play until a verdict is rendered. The latest from Nightengale:

Alex Rodriguez will be suspended through at least the 2014 season in an announcement Monday by Major League Baseball, but the New York Yankees third baseman plans to file an appeal that will enable him to play that evening against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, two people with direct knowledge of the plan told USA TODAY Sports.

There’s been talk of commissioner Bud Selig enacting a best-interest-of-MLB clause to prevent A-Rod from playing while he appeals his suspension, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post says Selig is unlikely to go through with that because he doesn’t want to get into a court battle the MLBPA.

A-Rod’s appeal will be heard by independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz within the next three weeks. He one of several players who face punishment for their alleged involvement with Biogenesis, a shuttered Miami wellness clinic, and all of the suspensions are expected to be announced Monday, according to multiple reports. Ryan Braun in July accepted a suspension for the remainder of the season for receiving PEDs from the clinic.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi spoke openly about the situation before Sunday’s series finale against the Padres at Petco Park: “I think all of us are curious what’s going to happen, and is Alex going to be a player for us tomorrow, and what’s going to happen with the other guys that are involved in this. Because in my mind I have him penciled in here tomorrow. … I don’t suspect it’ll be awkward. Most of the guys know him as a teammate and have laughed a lot with Alex and been around Alex a lot. I think it’ll be business as usual.”

Rodriguez, 38, went 9-for-42 (.214/.333/.452) with three home runs and 10 RBI in 15 rehab games.

Yankees third basemen have hit .215/.273/.286 with four homers and 32 RBI in 109 games this year.

MLB execs go to bat in favor of shrinking minor leagues

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Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports published an article this morning in which he quotes several executives of MLB teams, including Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen and Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro, defending the league’s proposal to cut 42 minor league baseball teams.

We first learned of the idea about a month ago. The proposal was widely panned, even drawing scorn from Congress as more than 100 members of Congress — including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — signed a letter condemning the league. In the time since, MLB has spent considerable time defending itself amid the public scrutiny. MLB also got into a bickering match with Minor League Baseball.

To generally sum up what was said in Brown’s column: the GMs echoed what MLB previously said in defensive of its proposal, which is that cutting 42 minor league teams (mostly in short-season and rookie ball) would free up more money to pay players more and improve their working conditions, including food and travel as well as facility conditions.

It is hypocritical for the league and team executives to express concern for the salaries and the quality of life for minor league players. After all, Major League Baseball spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress in order for language in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to be amended. Doing so allowed the league to classify minor leaguers as seasonal workers and thus not owed things like a minimum wage and overtime pay, among other worker protections. This all happened because MLB is the defendant in a class-action lawsuit, originated by Aaron Senne and several other former minor league players, alleging that the league violated state and federal minimum wage laws with minor league players.

Shapiro is not a fan of Sanders’ constant harping on the league’s proposal. Shapiro said, “I’m never going to go toe-to-toe with him on domestic policy. But I will go toe-to-toe with Bernie Sanders on professional baseball.” As Brown explains, Shapiro is among those who believes that having a smaller minor league system would allow his organization to offer greater focus to each player remaining within that system. With the increased focus, the team would be better able to develop major league-caliber prospects. As we know, teams love prospects because their salaries are artificially depressed for the first six years of their careers.

One anonymous GM harped on the fact that “minor league baseball is not a moneymaker.” It didn’t sound like he was complaining; rather, simply recognizing how their parent teams view the situation. Another anonymous GM, however, said that the 42 teams are on the chopping block “for a reason.” He added, “I’m guessing that reason isn’t because they had overwhelmingly positive gate turnouts or that their facilities were in good shape. I think that’s been the criteria.”

As I pointed out last month, there are two teams that, at minimum, disprove the shabby-facility talking point. The Lowell Spinners (short-season) have had multiple renovations done in recent years. Team owner Dave Heller called his team’s stadium “arguably the best facility in the New York-Penn League.” The Quad Cities River Bandits, as another example, have earned awards from BallparkDigest.com for “Best Ballpark Improvement” and finished in third place as recently as two seasons ago for “Best View in the Minors.”

As for attendance, BallparkDigest has the 2019 numbers for all 160 teams here. The four Double-A teams on the chopping block — the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Chattanooga Lookouts, Erie SeaWolves, and Jackson Generals — ranked 91st, 74th, 80th, and 130th, respectively. Only one of those teams is significantly below the 50th percentile. Furthermore, one of the High-A teams on the list, the Frederick Keys, ranked 57th in attendance this past season, close to being in the top one-third of the entire minor league system.

The arguments are obviously facile. We should expect nothing less, however, as these execs do the bidding of their team’s ownership. Their jobs necessitate developing players efficiently and thoroughly. Chopping 42 minor league teams would have the double benefit to them of helping reduce overhead so the owners can report higher profits, as well as making their system run more efficiently (or so they think). So be it if thousands of jobs in towns across the U.S. get slashed in the process. So be it if small towns lose a central focus of their local economies and cultures. So be it if baseball becomes significantly less accessible across the nation.