2018 UCB Spring Roundtable question

UCB_11The United Cardinals Bloggers organization (to which this blog belongs) holds two roundtables annually, where a member asks a question and the other members answer the questions.  The spring roundtable usually takes place in March and the fall roundtable takes place in October (or November if the Cards are in the playoffs).

I volunteered to ask a question, so here it is:

Good morning fellow UCB’ers!  There have been discussions lately about minor league players and their rate of pay. It’s been said that minor league players aren’t paid well so as to make them hungry to get to the major leagues, but there’s a fine line between hunger to get to the major leagues and hunger because you don’t make enough to afford food. I’m sure there are some players who have had to stop chasing the dream because they can’t make ends meet.

Hopefully, this will be rectified in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, due next year, or maybe sooner.  Should the parent club pay more money to the minor league teams?  Should major league players contribute, say, 1% of their yearly income to help pay minor league players?  Most of them were, at one time, minor league players themselves, so they know the pain of trying to juggle their expenses at a low rate of pay.  

So what are your suggestions to help get minor league players a living wage?  Thanks for your answers!

Mark Tomasek of RetroSimba  answered:

Hi, Diane. Interesting question with no easy answer.

One aspect impacting my thinking is, “Don’t some, or all, of the players who are drafted receive signing bonuses; in some cases, significant amounts of bonus money?” Shouldn’t that factor into a formula for salary? Should a non-drafted player who didn’t get bonus money have a different salary tier than one who did get bonus money?

I also question whether playing baseball in the minors leagues is a career or whether it is an apprenticeship/internship. I think very few, if any, athletes plan to make a career of playing baseball in the minors. The whole point of the minors is to be a testing ground to determine whether you qualify for big leagues. In other professions, compensation for an apprenticeship, or internship, wouldn’t be the same as compensation for a full time career professional.

Rusty Groppel of the Bird Law podcast answered:

First and foremost, the MLBPA has to step up and actually fight for those players.  With the realizations that they have to shift the compensation model, maybe it will open the door for that.  I don’t think they need to contribute any of their salary, because it frankly would not cost the MLB that much to pay all of their minor leaguers a decent wage.

I quickly scratched out a pay scale that goes as follows: DSL – 30K, GCL, Appy, NY/Penn – 40K, Midwest – 50K, FSL – 60K, Texas – 75K, and PCL – 100K. Multiplying by roster size, it came out to $13.425M to pay 175 minor leaguers in regards to the Cardinals system. That’s not even 10% of their current payroll.

That’s an aggressive model and compensates them well in real-world dollars. The low level guys may still need an offseason job, but the high level guys, that are expected to put in their baseball work year round, would be in good living shape at those salaries. It’s fair.

Even if you cut it in half, it’s livable (though again, low-level will need a winter job) and a better situation than the current system. It would only cost the Cardinals $6.7125M in that scenario, which is just slightly more than they will pay Kolten Wong this year and $1M less than Brett Cecil. The Rays get almost 5 times that much just from revenue sharing. So it’s a relatively small financial investment for teams to just take care of those guys. It’s just a matter of someone forcing teams to do it.

Daniel Shoptaw of C70 at the Bat answered:

Mark makes a good point, but I think Rusty’s scale of pay still makes a lot of sense.  In this field, the minimum salary is $555,000 right now, I believe.  Even apprentices and interns (usually) get paid and Rusty’s 30K for the rawest of these is 5% of what that minimum is.  That would seem reasonable enough for a living wage.  While perhaps these players don’t plan on it being their life’s work, it is their work right now.  (And I think a lot of athletes plan to make it to the bigs or plan to make this what they do as long as they can do it, especially after the first couple of years.)

At the very least–and I reiterate, the VERY least–the big league teams could help alleviate some expenses to make the minor leaguers salaries go farther.  Reimburse for clubhouse dues.  Make sure that there is a way for them to eat quality meals at the ballpark.  Provide some equipment to them–Tara’s story about minor leaguers that won’t swing at an inside pitch because it might break their bat and they can’t afford another one is pretty telling.

My guess is that those in the lowest levels of the minors put more work into their job than I do to mine.  (Maybe that’s a low bar, but still….)  Just because they might not wind up on the big stage doesn’t mean to me they can’t have a reasonable pay scale relative to their industry.

Thanks to all for your answers! The link to each person’s blog/podcast is in bold above – check them out! You might find something new and enjoyable to read.

I’m so excited – the regular season is less than 2 weeks away!  It’s been great watching the spring training games on TV. I enjoy watching the minor league guys, even if they don’t hit or field very well.  They have to start somewhere.

Thanks for reading! See you next time!

Diane

2019 Cardinals Hall of Fame voting now open

While we’re waiting for the regular season to begin, it’s time once again for us fans to vote 2 new members into the Cardinals Hall of Fame.  It’s great to reminisce about these players and how they contributed to the Cardinals during their tenure with the team.  All of the candidates are great and it’s hard to pick just two.  Here are all the details you need to know about the balloting and this year’s candidates for your consideration:

The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame fan balloting process is now open at cardinals.com/HOF.  Fans can select two players for election from a ballot that includes Cardinals greats Keith Hernandez, Jason Isringhausen, Matt Morris, Edgar Renteria, Scott Rolen, and John Tudor.

The six modern ballot nominees were selected by a Red Ribbon committee of Cardinals baseball experts through a secret ballot process in January.  The Cardinals Hall of Fame Fan Vote, presented by Edward Jones, will run through Friday, April 12.  The two players with the most votes will be announced on Friday, April 26, at 6:00 p.m. during a televised 30-minute Hall of Fame announcement special on FOX Sports Midwest, and also in a pregame ceremony at Busch Stadium before the Cardinals face the Cincinnati Reds.

The formal enshrinement ceremony for the sixth Cardinals Hall of Fame Induction Class is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 24, at FOX Sports Midwest Live! in Ballpark Village as part of the 2019 Cardinals Hall of Fame Weekend.  The induction ceremony is free to attend.

The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame was established as a way to recognize the exceptional careers and significant achievements of the greatest players in Cardinals history.  To be eligible, players must have played for the Cardinals for at least three seasons and must be retired as a player from Major League Baseball for at least three years.  The eligible pool of players is divided into two categories of “modern players” and “veteran players”.  If a player retired more than 40 years prior to the induction year, he is classified as a veteran player.

In addition to nominating modern players for fan balloting, the Red Ribbon committee also elected a veteran player for induction using a secret ballot process.  Independent of this process, the Cardinals organization may also opt to induct an individual who was an important figure in Cardinals history, such as a coach, broadcaster or member of the front office.

Each member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame will be permanently enshrined in the Cardinals Hall of Fame Gallery presented by Edward Jones located on the second floor of Cardinals Nation in Ballpark Village, just outside the entrance to the team’s museum.  The Hall of Fame Gallery is free and open to the public.  The plaques that adorn the gallery are produced by Matthews International, the company that also produces the plaques for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Fans can check cardinals.com/HOF for more details about the 2019 Cardinals Hall of Fame Weekend and also find information about other events at the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum that weekend.

The following is a description of each Hall of Fame nominee’s career as a Cardinal:

Keith Hernandez

Years: 1974 – 1983                       .299/.385/.448, 1217 H, 265 2B, 81 HR, 595 RBI, 662 R (1165 Games)

Keith Hernandez played 10 seasons with the Cardinals, winning six straight Gold Gloves from 1978-1983 at first base.  He was a National League co-MVP in 1979, batting a league-leading .344 with 48 doubles, 11 home runs, and 105 RBI.  The two-time All-Star was a member of the 1982 World Championship team and batted .299 that season with 94 RBI.  Hernandez’s .385 on-base percentage ranks fifth all-time among Cardinals hitters to have played at least 10 seasons with the club.

Jason Isringhausen

Years: 2002 – 2008                       217 Saves, 2.98 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 408.0 IP (401 Games)

Jason Isringhausen spent seven seasons as the Cardinals closer. During his tenure, the Cardinals won the Central Division four times, capturing the pennant in 2004 and 2006 and winning the World Series in 2006.  He registered a National League-best 47 saves in 2004, tying Lee Smith’s franchise record until Trevor Rosenthal saved 48 in 2015.  An All-Star in 2005, “Izzy” holds the franchise record for saves with 217 and ranks third among Cardinals relief pitchers with 373 strikeouts.  His 401 appearances, all in relief, are the sixth most in club history.

Matt Morris

Years: 1997 – 2005                        101-62, 3.61 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 18 CG, 8 SHO, 1377.1 IP (206 Games Started)

A first-round draft pick, Matt Morris made his Major League debut less than two years after being taken 12th overall in the 1995 amateur draft.  In his 1997 rookie season, Morris made 33 starts and finished with a 12-9 record and a 3.19 ERA, tying him for second among Rookie of the Year balloting.  A National League All-Star in 2001 and 2002, Morris finished third in Cy Young voting in 2001 after winning a Major League-best 22 games.  In his eight seasons with the club, Morris recorded at least 11 wins six times, won four division titles and started 11 postseason games.  Matt’s 986 strikeouts rank sixth on the team’s all-time list and his .620 winning percentage is seventh-best in club history.

Edgar Renteria

Years: 1999 – 2004                       .290/.347/.420, 451 RBI, 207 2B, 148 SB (903 Games)

Edgar Renteria played six seasons with the Cardinals and was named a National League All-Star three times (2000, 2003, 2004).  The Colombian shortstop won two Gold Gloves while with St. Louis in 2002 and 2003, and three Silver Slugger Awards in 2000, 2002 and 2003.  Renteria batted .330 in 2003, a franchise single-season record for a shortstop, as are the 47 doubles he hit that season.  His career high 100 RBI in 2003 ranks second among all St. Louis shortstops for a single season. Renteria’s 37 stolen bases his first season with the Cardinals are the most in a single-season since that time and his 148 steals while with St. Louis ranks second in franchise history among shortstops.

Scott Rolen

Years: 2002 – 2007                       .286/.370/.510, 678 H, 421 R, 173 2Bs, 111 HR, 453 RBI (661 Games)

In his five-plus seasons with the Cardinals, Scott Rolen dominated the hot corner winning Gold Gloves in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006.  He was named a National League All-Star in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, and captured a Silver Slugger award in 2002.  In 2004, Rolen slashed .314/.409/.598 with 34 home runs and 124 RBI.  His stellar 2004 campaign continued during the postseason with his pennant-clinching, two-run homer off Roger Clemens in the 6th inning of Game 7 of the National League Championship Series vs. Houston.  During Busch Stadium II’s final season in 2005, Rolen was voted by Cardinals fans as the third baseman to the All-Busch Stadium team.  In 2006, Rolen helped the club to its 10th World Championship, closing out the postseason with a 10-game hitting streak.

John Tudor

Years: 1985 – 1988, 1990            62-26, 2.52 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 22 CG, 12 SHO, 881.2 IP (125 Games Started)

During his five seasons in a Cardinals uniform, John Tudor accumulated a .705 winning percentage and 2.52 ERA over 125 starts, both of which still stand as all-time Cardinals records (minimum 750.0 IP).  The left-hander’s finest season came in 1985 when he won 21 games (went 20-1 after June 1) with a minuscule 1.93 ERA, including 10 complete game shutouts, and finished second in National League Cy Young voting.  A member of two National League pennant-winning teams in 1985 and 1987, Tudor won at least 10 games in each of the four full seasons he pitched for the Redbirds.

Cardinals Hall of Fame Members

Jim Bottomley, Ken Boyer, Sam Breadon, Harry Brecheen, Lou Brock, Jack Buck, August A. “Gussie” Busch Jr., Chris Carpenter, Vince Coleman, Dizzy Dean, Jim Edmonds, Curt Flood, Bob Forsch, Frank Frisch, Bob Gibson, Chick Hafey, Jesse Haines, Whitey Herzog, Rogers Hornsby, George Kissell, Tony La Russa, Ray Lankford, Marty Marion, Pepper Martin, Tim McCarver, Willie McGee, Mark McGwire, Joe Medwick, Johnny Mize, Terry Moore, Stan Musial, Branch Rickey, Red Schoendienst, Mike Shannon, Ted Simmons, Enos Slaughter, Ozzie Smith, Billy Southworth, Bruce Sutter and Joe Torre.

2019 Cardinals Hall of Fame Red Ribbon Selection Committee

Tom Ackerman,  Frank Cusumano,  Derrick Goold, Whitey Herzog, Benjamin Hochman, Rick Hummel, Randy Karraker,  Martin Kilcoyne, Jenifer Langosch,  Tony La Russa, Bernie Miklasz, Joe Ostermeier, Rob Rains and Brian Walton.

My regular readers know I’m a John Tudor fangirl, so of course, I will be voting for him.  If he is elected, I will be attending the induction ceremony.  I wouldn’t miss that for the world.  My other vote?  Scott Rolen.  Who will you be voting for?  Leave a comment below.

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As you know, Bryce Harper signed with Philadelphia for 13 years with no opt-outs for stupid money.  How crazy is that? I think if I were a player, I would want at least one opt-out. I am glad that the Cards didn’t sign him.  That frees up money to sign Paul Goldschmidt to an extension, which I hope the Cardinals do soon.  I was happy that the Cards extended Miles Mikolas and signed Jose Martinez to a two-year contract.

Spring training is underway, and the Cards pitchers (with the exception of Carlos Martinez, who is injured again – surprise, surprise!) are on fire.  Today, Jack Flaherty had 9 K’s, with 7 K’s in a row.  The Cards haven’t won many games in spring training, although it’s okay to lose them now, just not during the regular season.  My man Harrison Bader needs to work with hitting coach Jeff Albert on his hitting and with Jose Oquendo on his baserunning.

That’s all for tonight.  Thanks for reading as always and see you next time!

Diane