Author Topic: The future of the minor leagues  (Read 277 times)

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Online imref

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The future of the minor leagues
« Topic Start: September 09, 2020, 08:44:53 AM »
Pat O'Conner has resigned as President of MiLB after a 13 year reign.  Lots of speculation this morning that this means the end of MiLB as a separate entity from the MLB. 

https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/pat-oconners-retirement-signals-milbs-likely-end-as-independent-entity/

https://nationalsprospects.com/2020/09/milb-all-but-concedes-defeat-with-oconner-retirement/

There have been warnings for months that a large number of teams will not be able to survive the coronavirus cancellation of the season, and that the future of minor league baseball is probably one with a limited number of affiliates, owned by major league teams.  If that's true, it's a very sad time for baseball and for the country.

Some additional background here:
https://www.bleachernation.com/cubs/2020/07/02/the-dire-and-scary-state-of-minor-league-baseball/

Online HalfSmokes

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #1: September 09, 2020, 09:00:35 AM »
sucks for all those teams and towns that have recently built awesome parks

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #2: September 09, 2020, 09:19:35 AM »
gonna guess having an awesome park will be a prerequisite for being in the new structure.  F'burg will survive  but not H-town. 

Online HalfSmokes

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #3: September 09, 2020, 09:20:38 AM »
gonna guess having an awesome park will be a prerequisite for being in the new structure.  F'burg will survive  but not H-town. 

I think being club owned will be the most important factor. If the whole edifice falls, it may be the only factor

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #4: September 09, 2020, 09:25:12 AM »
I suppose there will be some Godfather offers that teams will put out to key minor league teams. 


Online HalfSmokes

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #5: September 09, 2020, 09:28:38 AM »
If there is no milb and just club affiliates playing each other, it’s a matter of we’ll take the stadium payments off your hands, if not we’ll find another team that doesn’t want to service debt on an empty park

Online Elvir Ovcina

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #6: September 09, 2020, 09:43:04 AM »
I think being club owned will be the most important factor. If the whole edifice falls, it may be the only factor

I think MLB clubs will be content to tolerate independent ownership if that means outsourcing costs and demanding more concessions.  It's the same negotiating posture as with MLB cities regarding stadiums.

Online HalfSmokes

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #7: September 09, 2020, 10:00:57 AM »
I think MLB clubs will be content to tolerate independent ownership if that means outsourcing costs and demanding more concessions.  It's the same negotiating posture as with MLB cities regarding stadiums.

It probably depends on how far it shrinks- if it’s all spring training facility plus a aaa/aa equivalent, there may be enough profit there to keep it in house. I don’t see clubs jumping to own single A franchises, but I don’t see them surviving if systems continue to shrink

Online Elvir Ovcina

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #8: September 09, 2020, 10:16:57 AM »
It probably depends on how far it shrinks- if it’s all spring training facility plus a aaa/aa equivalent, there may be enough profit there to keep it in house. I don’t see clubs jumping to own single A franchises, but I don’t see them surviving if systems continue to shrink

I can't see them eliminating high-A at least.  For one, spring training facilities aren't that large.  Four affiliated teams implies AAA/AA/A+ and then a fourth team that's some mashup of A, short season, and rookie, but if you compress the latter to a full season league then the draftees still need to go somewhere, which the NYP League presumably wouldn't be around to do. 

Second, a bunch already do own high-A (not coincidentally, the ones that play at the Florida ST facilities).  The levels that get hosed with this are Rookie (to the extent they're not at ST facilities), Short-A, and A. 

Offline blue911

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #9: September 09, 2020, 10:26:45 AM »
Dominican, Rookie or short season A, High A and AA, the rest is filler

Offline varoadking

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #10: September 09, 2020, 10:31:00 AM »
I can't see them eliminating high-A at least.  For one, spring training facilities aren't that large.

The Nats / Asterisks facility is ginormous...

Online Elvir Ovcina

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #11: September 09, 2020, 10:42:17 AM »
The Nats / Asterisks facility is ginormous...

Well, yeah.  Two teams.   But only one stadium that would allow anything like a normal fan atmosphere, so unless organizations want players playing in empty stadiums until AA, it presents a challenge.

Offline varoadking

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #12: September 09, 2020, 10:51:23 AM »
Well, yeah.  Two teams.   But only one stadium that would allow anything like a normal fan atmosphere, so unless organizations want players playing in empty stadiums until AA, it presents a challenge.

I'm not at all familiar with Arizona, but the Yankees facility in Tampa is also quite large with multiple fields.  Would be interesting to know the balance.  IIRC the Tigers compound in Lakeland is pretty compact.  Don't recall the Cards or Mets setup.    Disney was pretty large, but no longer in use by MLB or MiLB...as I understand it

Online Elvir Ovcina

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #13: September 09, 2020, 11:37:05 AM »
I'm not at all familiar with Arizona, but the Yankees facility in Tampa is also quite large with multiple fields.  Would be interesting to know the balance.  IIRC the Tigers compound in Lakeland is pretty compact.  Don't recall the Cards or Mets setup.    Disney was pretty large, but no longer in use by MLB or MiLB...as I understand it

Yanks is pretty big, but yes Lakeland is pretty small, and I recall Dunedin (Toronto) being pretty small as well.  Most of the AZ facilities are pretty big and already host a Rookie league team. 

Online Natsinpwc

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #14: September 09, 2020, 11:39:56 AM »
Yanks is pretty big, but yes Lakeland is pretty small, and I recall Dunedin (Toronto) being pretty small as well.  Most of the AZ facilities are pretty big and already host a Rookie league team.
No one goes to minor league baseball in Florida. Except for Daytona.

The Dunedin team averaged 206 fans per game in 2019.

Offline varoadking

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #15: September 09, 2020, 11:41:16 AM »
Yanks is pretty big, but yes Lakeland is pretty small, and I recall Dunedin (Toronto) being pretty small as well.  Most of the AZ facilities are pretty big and already host a Rookie league team.

I haven't been to Sarasota since 1966...I think they built a new facility since the White Sox trained there...

Online HalfSmokes

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #16: September 09, 2020, 01:23:33 PM »
Well, yeah.  Two teams.   But only one stadium that would allow anything like a normal fan atmosphere, so unless organizations want players playing in empty stadiums until AA, it presents a challenge.

they cut from 40 to 5 rounds. That's a lot less filler- they may just keep players in extended spring training until they're ready for high A

Online Elvir Ovcina

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #17: September 09, 2020, 03:14:00 PM »
they cut from 40 to 5 rounds. That's a lot less filler- they may just keep players in extended spring training until they're ready for high A

What it really means is that they'll be keeping kids in college.  But yes, good point.  We'll see where they end up on the number of rounds - they can't do 5 unilaterally long term as it's in the CBA.

Online HalfSmokes

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #18: September 09, 2020, 03:31:11 PM »
What it really means is that they'll be keeping kids in college.  But yes, good point.  We'll see where they end up on the number of rounds - they can't do 5 unilaterally long term as it's in the CBA.

if there's one thing about professional athletes in CBA negotiations that is regularly proven true- they will sell out draftees/minor leaguers without batting an eye for any marginal gain on their end

Online Elvir Ovcina

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #19: September 09, 2020, 05:01:02 PM »
if there's one thing about professional athletes in CBA negotiations that is regularly proven true- they will sell out draftees/minor leaguers without batting an eye for any marginal gain on their end

Depressingly true.

Offline LincolnDD

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #20: September 13, 2020, 10:27:30 AM »
I think MLB clubs will be content to tolerate independent ownership if that means outsourcing costs and demanding more concessions.  It's the same negotiating posture as with MLB cities regarding stadiums.

That's my thinking, too.  Or at least independent majority owners who run the operation.  The even-year affiliation shuffle will be a thing of the past, but holding a piece of an affiliate is a safety blanket if another MLB team came calling whenever a negotiation window opened.

Baseball America recently covered prior motivation for MLB teams owning affiliates, specifically at the High A level:  https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/how-4-mlb-teams-took-extreme-measures-to-avoid-landing-in-the-california-league/

Under the new system, there's little fear of being stuck in less than ideal situations (i.e. Nats in Fresno), so presumably less motivation to own if you're a MLB team. 

Offline LincolnDD

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #21: September 13, 2020, 11:01:03 AM »
The reported structure when this news first surfaced last October hasn't changed, as far as I know. 

-Forty-plus teams will be cut.  The number fluctuates because some current Independent League teams may be absorbed into affiliated ball; the more that are brought in mean more current affiliates will be dumped. 
-There will be 120 affiliates, four for each MLB team:  AAA, AA, High A and Low A.
-The short-season A (NY-Penn and Northwest) and Rookie levels (Appalachian and Pioneer) will no longer exist (though the Northwest is reportedly getting bumped up to a full season league). 
-Teams will still field one team at their Spring Training facility (Gulf Coast League and Arizona League).  I believe they're also limited to one Dominican League team, too.  But those are less affiliates and more organized scrimmages.

MLB's stated goals:  Better facilities, less travel within leagues, and better geographical alignment, both in terms of distance between affiliates and their parents, and affiliates within a farm system (less travel for teams' roving instructors jumping from one affiliate to the next).

This assume the two sides will come to an agreement; the current one expires at the end of this month.  MLB can walk away if they want and spin up their own development system.  That would be a headache for them, but it's possible.  And I'd bet most current affiliates would be more than willing to leave the current entity that is Minor League Baseball and follow MLB to the new development league.  Minor League Baseball has very, very little power here; this is a one-sided negotiation.  MLB is going to run things regardless of how it happens.

Offline comish4lif

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #22: September 14, 2020, 03:11:36 PM »
MLB's stated goals:  Better facilities, less travel within leagues, and better geographical alignment, both in terms of distance between affiliates and their parents, and affiliates within a farm system (less travel for teams' roving instructors jumping from one affiliate to the next).
I'm really curious to see how this works out. It doesn't seem to me that there are enough teams placed in a manner that reduces travel within leagues and aligns team geographically with the parents orgs and other affiliates.

To be sure, logistically, there is a set of relationships (affiliates, leagues, etc) that optimizes the problem. But given how teams and affiliations never achieved that solution on their own, I have doubts that they'll be able to achieve it now.

Offline DCFan

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #23: September 14, 2020, 03:20:35 PM »
MLB's stated goals:  Better facilities, less travel within leagues, and better geographical alignment, both in terms of distance between affiliates and their parents, and affiliates within a farm system (less travel for teams' roving instructors jumping from one affiliate to the next).

MLB's bottom line is what this is all about.  They are going to shift more of the development and their associated costs onto colleges where I don't believe they pay the NCAA anything and everything is cheaper in the Dominican. The good players will have less deadwood in their way.

Online HalfSmokes

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Re: The future of the minor leagues
« Reply #24: September 14, 2020, 03:27:03 PM »
MLB's bottom line is what this is all about.  They are going to shift more of the development and their associated costs onto colleges where I don't believe they pay the NCAA anything and everything is cheaper in the Dominican. The good players will have less deadwood in their way.

I hope not- colleges are cutting sports programs left and right and baseball is a money pit for most of them. It's already a partial scholarship not a full scholarship sport, I'd hate to see baseball becoming even more pay to play