“You can always spend money,” said Cardinals GM John Mozeliak, talking (on MLB-TV) about the trade of starter Shelby Miller and reliever prospect Tyrell Jenkins for Braves’ right fielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden. The trade saved Mozeliak from spending the kind of money – $52 million (for four years) – he invested last year in another “impact” player, shortstop free agent Jhonny Peralta. Heyward, the elite player of the four involved in the exchange, is 25, and will earn $7.8 million in his “walk” free-agent season. The Cardinals may wind up having to pay Heyward twice as much as he’ll receive in 2015, and for several years, if they hope to keep him around. “That we’ll have to take day-to-day,” said Mozeliak, “and see what happens.”
We know it’s one thing to take life day-to-day when you have MLB-type money to spend – the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton getting $325 million for 13 years, Russell Martin due to receive $82 million from the Blue Jays over the next five years. It’s another for the millions struggling who can’t afford to see a movie, much less a ballgame live from bleacher seats. Baseball and its media cheerleaders have seduced fans into dwelling on the big money top players earn. Dodgers, Red Sox and Yankees fans revel in their vicarious (“It’s not our money”) wealth when their teams spring for elite free agents. We’re all prone to feel respect, even awe, for the fabulously rich. Those struggling at the bottom end of our 99-percent society seldom get media attention or the public compassion they deserve.
William Finnegan documented the hardships of one segment of those playing along the poverty baseline in a recent New Yorker article. They were workers at McDonald’s in the Washington Heights section of New York City:
“Most of the workers here make minimum wage, which is eight dollars an hour in New York City, and receive no benefits. Rosa Rivera, a grandmother of four who has worked at McDonald’s for fourteen years, makes eight dollars and fifty cents. Exacerbating the problem of low pay in an expensive city, nearly everyone is effectively part time, getting fewer than forty hours of work a week. And none of the employees seem to know, from week to week, when, exactly, they will work…The coming week’s schedule is posted on Saturday evenings…
“Arisleyda Tapia…a single mother with a five-year-old daughter…has been working here for eight years, and makes eight dollars and thirty-five cents an hour…’I need to get Internet,’ she said. We were in her apartment, and she pointed out an old Dell desktop wedged among other appliances on the dresser she shares with daughter Ashley. Internet access is about twenty dollars a month. Something would have to give. It could not be her unlimited-ride MetroCard. That was a hundred and twelve dollars a month—a giant bite out of her paycheck… If she got a raise to fifteen dollars an hour, she could buy new work shoes, help her mother (in Santo Domingo), get Ashley a good winter coat. Even so, fifteen dollars an hour is not considered adequate for a basic household budget…. Not in New York City, anyway. A recent study found that, assuming you get forty hours a week,… it might be enough for a single person living in Montana.. I didn’t mention th(at) to Tapia. We were sitting in her tiny railroad kitchen, talking in whispers, because the other renters might be asleep.”
Something for all of us to consider next time we hear about the determined-but-fitful natiowide rallies on behalf of fast-food workers, like those at McDonald’s.
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Speaking of Money: The White Sox came from nowhere to sign first baseman Adam LaRoche for $25 million in a two-year deal. The Marlins were thought to have an inside track on the ex-National, LaRoche hit 26 HRs last season.
Easy to Say:: “If the Giants allow (Pablo) Sandoval to leave, they should be ashamed of themselves. Especially if this is about money. Because money should not be an issue for the Giants. Ever.” – Mark Purdy, San Jose Mercury News
Dodgers/Yankees Watch: Only one of the MLB’s two wealthiest teams – the Dodgers – have added a veteran major leaguer to their roster so far: he is righty reliever Joel Peralta, obtained from the Rays, as part of a trade involving three other minor leaguers. LA has also picked up minor league outfielder Kyle Jensen from the Marlins for a player to be named. The Yanks added Pirates lefty reliever Justin Wilson, who has played two-plus seasons with the Bucs. His combined W-L is 9-5, with an ERA of just under 3.00. The observer consensus is that both the NYY’s Brian Cashman and the LAD’s Andrew Friedman will eventually pounce into the elite market, signing or dealing for big-ticket reinforcements.
Movability: “In movable outfield walls the Mets trust. Standing against the right-center-field fence..(at) CitiField, GM Sandy Alderson unveiled the team’s latest attempt to win more games than it loses. At season’s end, the team’s analysts carefully studied home run trajectories and decided to move in this fence by as much as 11 feet… Did I mention that the Mets moved in the fences after the 2011 season, when they won 77 games and lost 85? The next year they were 74-88…(Perhaps instead) the Mets should examine their spending habits. They keep up the pretense of being a small-market team that happens to play in the biggest market in the United States. In fact, they are spending $15 million to $16 million per annum on (Curtis) Granderson, $8.5 million on (Michael) Cuddyer in 2015 and, last year, spent $7.25 million on Chris Young, who hit not at all for the Mets. Put those contracts together and you end up with more than $30 million per year, which would allow you to purchase a terrific outfielder.” – Michael Powell, NY Times
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