Friday, Jim Madelaro in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that the Twins and Red Wings will sign a new Player Development Contract that will cover the 2013 and 2014 baseball season.
In an accompanying opinion piece, Mandalaro writes that this was the logical move for Rochester, “But the “best” club that figures to be available is the Mets, and they’re about to get kicked out of Buffalo after getting ejected from Norfolk and New Orleans. Wings officials are wary about hitching their wagon to the Mets, and I don’t blame them.” He’s right on two of the three counts. The Mets were thrilled to leave New Orleans for Buffalo, but yes, the other two affiliations with International Leagues were ended by the affiliate and not the Mets.
That leaves one pair of Major League-International League team pairing without a contract for 2013: the New York Mets and the Buffalo Bisons. The Mets and Bisons could still each decide that they want to renew, but the decision has to be mutual. The Bisons must want the Mets in addition to the Mets wanting to stay in Buffalo.
If the Bisons decide to cast their lot with another major league team – the Blue Jays are the obvious choice – based on the cities’ geographic proximity and the Jays strong farm system, the Mets will be forced into an affiliation in the Pacific Coast League. The Blue Jays have been affiliated with the Las Vegas 51s, so Vegas will be open. Vegas is just an awful place to develop pitching. The ball flies and the infield baked into a hard surface. Las Vegas as a team this year, is hitting .304/.371/.456 in a PCL that averages .279/.346/.432. At home, the 51s have hit .313/.386/.487. Yikes.
According to Baseball America, Memphis (St. Louis), Nashville (Milwaukee), New Orleans (Miami), Oklahoma City (Houston) and Tucson (San Diego) are also without new PDC contracts for 2013 yet. Memphis and St. Louis have a strong relationship and seem unlikely to split. Nashville, with a new ballpark likely on the way, and in the central time zone, is the prize of the remaining options. The Mets have a relationship with New Orleans having played there in 2007 and 2008. Zephyrs Field is one of the more pitcher-friendly parks in the Pacific Coast League. If New Orleans would be willing to engage with the Mets again on a short-term basis, that would be the best fit.
Moving back to the PCL is logistically more difficult for the Mets. Need a player? Ok, but he’s in Fresno. The travel for team staff to see the AAA would become significantly more arduous. Oh, and Las Vegas is a wonderful place to put up offensive numbers but a bad, bad place to pitch.