The longer I run this blog, the more certain I am that I don't really know what my readers will respond to. I figured my post earlier in the week on the Kim Kardashian/Kris Humphries ball would get some reaction; nothing. I figured my post earlier today on a possible change in a minor league affiliation was a throwaway; I got four comments, which is a lot for this blog.
And what's more, I wanted to respond to each.Very unusual.
So, here we go ...
Thrylos98 commented on the distance between the major league team and their top affiliates and said it's unusual. I don't think it is, particularly for Midwestern teams. There are no Double A leagues in the Midwest; the Double A leagues are the Eastern League, the Southern League and the Texas League. As for the Triple A: There are few Triple-A caliber cities in vicinity of Minnesota, and Des Moines (Cubs) and Omaha (Royals) ain't switching. (The devotion of Omaha fans to the KC affiliation is such that one attempt to change the team's nickname from Omaha Royals died of popular rejection.) The White Sox's top affiliate is in Charlotte; the Brewers' is in Nashville. There's nothing the Twins can do about geography.
Andy asked about the Blue Jays Triple A affiliation with Las Vegas. Truth is, nobody wants to be affiliated with Vegas; that's largely a function of the hitter-happy environment. It's difficult to develop pitchers there. And being in the Pacific Coast League is particularly awkward for an Eastern team. The Jays would likely jump at an opportunity to get back to the International League, but that's not related to the Eastern League shuffle I was describing. I would think the Twins want no part of Vegas, and doubt they want to be anywhere in the PCL.Which is part of why they want to keep the Rochester people from looking elsewhere.
Andrew, I know, posted a piece a while back on his blog about Bill Smith representing the Twins at a RockCats event last month. Smith, he says, praised the player development at New Britain and a few other affiliates while saying nothing about Rochester.
That, I think, says more about the coaching staffs than about the affiliates. The Twins have replaced the manager and hitting coach at Rochester. Teams may be discontented with facilities or travel issues regarding specific affiliates and want to move accordingly, but if the players aren't developing, that's a personnel issue, not an affiliate issue.
But it takes two to be happy with an affiliation. The Twins hooked up with New Britain in no small part because they had a relationship with New Britain owner Joe Buzas, who also owned the Salt Lake City Triple-A team the Twins were then affiliated with. Buzas died in 2003. It's possible the Rock Cats' current ownership would rather link up with the Mets, whose fan base is practically next door.
And JimCrikket suggests the Twins might want out of Beloit, their Midwest League affiliate (low A). They might indeed; Beloit is not regarded as one of the gems of the league, although I suspect there are others (Burlington and Clinton, for example) whose facilities might be even less well regarded. I know the Twins were unhappy when Quad Cities ditched them for a St. Louis affiliation.
Personally, I'd love to see the Twins in Cedar Rapids, but I don't know how likely that is.