What with the minor league season starting yesterday, I wanted to figure out which teams had changed affiliations. As in 2007, there are a lot of Triple-A teams with new affiliates this year:
|Triple-A Team||Last Year||This Year |
|Columbus Clippers||Washington Nationals||Cleveland Indians|
|Syracuse Chiefs||Toronto Blue Jays||Washington Nationals|
|New Orleans Zephyrs||New York Mets||Florida Marlins|
|Las Vegas 51s||Los Angeles Dodgers||Toronto Blue Jays|
|Albuquerque Isotopes||Florida Marlins||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Buffalo Bisons||Cleveland Indians||New York Mets|
There could be more; those are just the ones I noticed.
There are some big changes there. Some long-time affiliations have been dissolved, and some teams have switched leagues.
The Clippers are now part of the Cleveland farm system. That makes sense; baseball teams seem to want geographical consolidation, both because it makes it easier to call up minor leaguers at a time when air travel is increasingly inconvenient, and for marketing purposes: fans of the big league team are more likely to be interested in the prospects. While Buffalo is actually pretty close to Cleveland, it's in a different state, and that matters when it comes to fan loyalty. When they parted ways with the Yankees, the Clippers insisted on a short contract with their new team, because they were set on luring an Ohio team for the long term. It appears they've succeeded.
The Syracuse Chiefs is a bit of a shocker. They'd been with the Jays for 31 years. And they're pretty close to Toronto, all things considered. Syracuse is not particularly close to Washington; I'm surprised the Mets didn't hook up with them instead.
The Mets dumping New Orleans is not a surprise. They were basically stuck with New Orleans in the last round. Everyone else paired off, and the Mets were left with the wallflower. New Orleans is really far away from New York, plus they play in the PCL. Now the Mets' Triple-A team is in New York, and in the IL.
The Marlins are much closer to New Orleans. Playing in the PCL isn't ideal, since so many of the games are played out west. Makes it harder to call up minor leaguers. But they were playing in the PCL anyway, so this is an improvement. Half their games will now be played in New Orleans, instead of Albuquerque. (Trivia: the Albuquerque Isotopes got their name from an episode of The Simpsons
; they get a surge in sales of jerseys, hats, etc., whenever that episode airs.)
The Blue Jays may have suffered the most serious blow. Jilted by Syracuse, they are now playing in the PCL. They've hooked up with the Dodger's former Triple-A team, the Las Vegas 51s. Yes, the team Bubba
hit so well with in his Dodger days. That means a real schlepp if they want to call up any youngsters.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, have hooked up with Albuquerque. Not sure why. It's farther away than Las Vegas, and probably has fewer flights, too.