MLB thinks paying MiLB players is a “waste”

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We now know the identity of the 42 minor-league teams MLB plans to shut down as part of a major restructuring of Minor League Baseball. The New York Times published the list this weekend, and there are some threads to pull on within it that reveal some of MLB’s intent: we’ll focus on the idea of “waste” today.

Just 14 of the shuttered teams are full-season, out of 120 that exist right now. However, 28 of the 40 short-season teams out there would be disaffiliated: those are inherently lower on the attendance spectrum, considering they are short-season leagues, in smaller parks, often in smaller cities that maybe couldn’t support something the size and scope of a Triple-A team and its park. That doesn’t mean they failed to, say, pay for the stadium they do have to be built, or that the people within those cities aren’t enjoying having a team in town. As Neil deMause writes:

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Scott Boras opened up about MLB’s attendance issues

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The MLBPA is right to investigate Alex Anthopoulos

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The MLBPA rejected a bad-faith MLB economic proposal

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Kris Bryant’s service time grievance is under review, and it has huge implications

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Randy Dobnak, Uber driver, is a symptom of a larger MLB problem

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September call-ups, MLB pensions, rule changes, and MiLB exploitation

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Rob Manfred finally admitted the ball needs fixing

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Mike Moustakas is going to be screwed either way, again

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“What if MLB’s efficiency fetish could further infect the minors,” asks writer.

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On Monday, Travis Sawchik asked a question to Five Thirty Eight’s audience: “Do we even need Minor League Baseball?” Sawchik’s theory is that so much of player development happens off the field these days, in comparison to how development used to work, that the minors are a waste of time and resources. Sawchik, you might recall, is one of the two authors of The MVP Machine, which looked at how players can kind of just be created these days thanks to advances in analytics and the introduction of the concept of “Betterball,” so this is an arena he knows his way around.

To a point, anyway. As you might also recall, the book brings to mind some key questions regarding labor and homogeneity it does not know the answers to (or even how to answer them), and this article is something of an extension of that. Deadspin’s Albert Burneko, for instance, wants to know who the “we” in Sawchik’s headline refers to, and it’s not an exaggeration that the entire premise of Sawchik’s piece relies on the reader identifying with management in order for it to accomplish the job the author set out for it.

You should read all of Burneko’s piece, as it’s fan-centric and a rebuttal to the idea presented in the initial piece that MiLB exists in the service of MLB teams alone, but I’ll pull this paragraph from it for now:

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