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Odds Against Mets Returning Triple-A Affiliate to IL

By Jed Weisberger ~ May 31st, 2013. Filed under: New York Mets.

So the not surprising word is out. The Mets are not all that happy with their Triple-A affiliate being housed in Las Vegas.

The Mets, bounced out of Buffalo in favor of Toronto, are in Las Vegas for both the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Face it, the Mets having their top affiliate in Las Vegas is doing the team no good, pitchers such as Zack Wheeler no good and hitters such as Andrew Brown no good. Nor will it help Ike Davis if he is demoted to there.

Las Vegas’ Cashman Field is third-most pitcher-unfriendly park in the minors, averaging nearly 12 runs scored and 22 hits alliowed per game. Wheeler is 3-1, 4.13 in 10 starts. Some are harping he’s allowed eight home runs in 52.1 innings. So what? This happens in Las Vegas and the Pacific Coast League.

Brown, a journeyman outfielder, is hitting .371 (43-for-116), but what has he done on the big-league level?  In 63 games, he has a batting average of .221 (33-for-149). That happens in Las Vegas. The stats are not real.

The Mets knew what they were getting into, but to get out of this situation will not be easy after the 2014 season. Affiliates in the International League don’t exactly grow on trees waiting for the Mets to pick from.

Of the IL’s 14 teams, Columbus (Indians), Louisville (Reds), Toledo (Tigers) and Lehigh Valley (Phillies) are signed through 2016 and are unavailable. Both Gwinnett (Braves) and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees) are either fully- or partially-owned by their parent teams and essentially signed in perpetuity.

That leaves eight other teams, with even fewer available for a possible Mets selling job.  The Mets, two years after being booted out of Buffalo, will have to show any IL team willing to listen why it makes sense to switch an affiliation during the postseason 2014 negotiating period.

Let’s look at the Mets’ chances of teams available for 2015 at present:

Buffalo (Blue Jays) – A perfect geographic fit, plus Mets were bounced out. No chance.

Charlotte (White Sox) – The Knights have been with the White Sox for several years, and are getting a new downtown park in 2014. Teams have been mediocre. Maybe.

Durham (Rays) – The Bulls are your prototypical southern affiliate with an organization far superior to that of the Mets. No switch here.

Indianapolis (Pirates) – Many of the Pittsburgh’s young stars have come through here. Would Indy switch? Maybe, but not likely to the Mets.

Norfolk (Orioles) – The Mets’ affiliate before Buffalo for many years. Now, Tides are tied in solidly with the Orioles. No turning back here.

Pawtucket (Red Sox) – Essentially Boston is here for perpetuity. No chance.

Rochester (Twins) – Minnesota has no special ties to this community-owned team. One to keep an eye on.

Syracuse (Nationals) – Battled a bit with Buffalo in 2010 to land Mets. Geographic fit, but would team dump Nats for Mets?

Right now, none of the eight teams with agreements up in 2014 are worried about an affiliation switch. Selling tickets and merchandise are the priorities.

Can the Mets return their Triple-A affiliate to the International League for the 2015 season? They could, but the odds are against it.

There is one way the Mets can assure having their Triple-A affiliate in the IL in the future. Buy a team, like the Braves or Yankees.  That’s far easier said than done as well.

Meanwhile, the Mets are indeed stuck with Las Vegas.


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Jed spent 35 years in the newspaper business working as both a writer and editor, in both sports and news under tight deadline pressure. As both sports editor at the Indiana (Pa.) Gazette and a copy editor/columnist at The Times of Trenton, he made daily decisions on overall coverage and designed and produced thousands of pages and special sections. Since accepting a buyout from The Times, he has concentrated on broadening his writing and editing horizons to the medical, academic and business fields. Anyone is welcome to Google Jed to see the different places in print, on the Web and in front of the camera his professional expertise has spread to.

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