Cubs Playing Musical Chairs - Some Affiliates Hear "Go Cubs, Go" Ringing in their Ears
After 14 seasons, the Cubs have apparently decided to leave Boise, and so they will now be looking for a new advanced Short Season (SS-A) affiliate in the Northwest League (NWL) to replace the Hawks. Salem-Keizer and Eugene would be their two most-likely destinations (presuming the Cubs opt to remain in the NWL), since both have an expiring Player Development Contract (PDC) with their current MLB partner. (The Cubs had a PDC with Eugene prior to moving to Boise).
The Cubs have already renewed their PDC with the AA Tennessee Smokies through the 2018 season, and their PDC with AAA Iowa extends through 2016. But there are three Cubs PDCs set to expire after the 2014 season:
(The Cubs own their AZL Cubs, DSL Cubs, and VSL Cubs affilates).
There was talk last month that the Cubs were mulling over the possibility of moving their affiliate in the Midwest League (MWL) from Kane County to either South Bend (new playing surface) or Fort Wayne (best stadium in the MWL), but recently announced plans to make improvements/upgrades at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva should mean the Cubs will renew their PDC with Kane County.
But the relationship between Cubs and their "Hi-A" Daytona affiliate in the Florida State League (FSL) is another matter.
The Cubs have had their Hi-A affiliate in Daytona for 22 seasons, but because of the high number or postponed games (rainouts) in the FSL, the Cubs had been making plans to move therir Hi-A affiliate from the FSL to the California League back when Oneri Fleita was the Cubs Player Development Director. But probably because of the change in ownership and the hiring of Theo Epstein & his people, the PDC with Daytona was renewed for another two years in 2012. However, this time I would expect the Cubs to make their move.
Back when Theo was GM of the Boston Red Sox, the BoSox moved their Hi-A affiliate (Sarasota) from the FSL to the Carolina League (Wilmington, NC) and then to the California League (Lancaster), before eventually purchasing an affiliate (Salem, VA) in the Carolina League. While some minor league affiliates are owned outright by MLB clubs (the Braves all of their minor league affilates except one), it is fairly rare. But since Theo was involved in the Red Sox purchase of the Salem club, I think it's plausible that the Cubs will attempt to do the same (if possible).
Prior to moving to Daytona in 1993, the Cubs Hi-A affiliate was in Winston-Salem, NC, so the Cubs (like the Red Sox) do have a history in the Carolina League.
At present it would appear that there are no plans to expand either the California League or the Carolina League beyond each league's present number of affiliates, so the Cubs would probably be restricted to taking over a Carolina League or California League affilate from another MLB organization where the PDC is set to expire after this season.
If the Braves relocate their Carolina League affiliate from Lynchburg, VA, back to Myrtle Beach, SC, the Cubs and Rangers (who are presently in Myrtle Beach) could compete to replace the Braves in Lynchburg, with the chance to possibly move the Lynchburg club to a new ballpark in Wilmington in 2016 when the Royals PDC with Wilmington is set to expire.
Another possibility would be for the Cubs to move their Hi-A affiliate temporarily to Lancaster, CA (the same place the Red Sox moved their Hi-A affiliate when they left Wilmington, before eventually purchasing the Salem club), and then try and work out a deal to purchase a Carolina League club (Wilmington?) in 2016 if they can't get it done this year. (The Houston Astros presently have their Hi-A affiliate in Lancaster, but they are the only Florida Spring Training team with a Hi-A affiliate in the California League, so it would make sense for Houston to move their Hi-A affiliate from the California League to the FSL).
One other issue the Cubs have with their minor league affiliates is that they probablty could benefit from another short-season team in the U. S.
Fully 1/3 of the 30 MLB clubs (AZ, HOU, KC, NYM, NYY, PIT, STL, SEA, TB, and TOR) have three short-season affiliates in the U. S., but the Cubs have only two. (The Cubs are one of 12 MLB clubs with two affiliates in Latin America). The Cubs had about a half-dozen pitchers signed after being selected in this year's Rule 4 Draft who couldn't be activated right away because there was no room on the AZL Cubs or Boise rosters (35 player roster limit at AZL Cubs and 30 player roster limit at Boise). With 70+ players on the rosters of their two affiliates in Latin America (DSL Cubs and VSL Cubs), the Cubs have twice the number of players on their two Latin American teams as was the case when they had just the one Latin American affiliate (DSL Cubs) pre-2008, so that some of the players have to be left in the DSL or VSL for an additional year only because there is no room for them on the AZL Cubs roster.
Prior to leaving the Cubs, Player Development Director Oneri Fleita had supposedly proposed that the Cubs add a second team in the AZL (AZL Cubs #2), but the plan was rejected. The Yankees are the only MLB organization with two teams in the same league outside the two Latin American leagues (GCL Yankees #1 and GCL Yankees #2 in the Gulf Coast League - Florida's version of the AZL), so while having two teams from the same organization in the AZL would be a first for the AZL, it really would be no different than the Yanks fielding two teams in the GCL. Like the Cubs, the Yankees have two Latin American teams (DSL Yankees #1 and DSL Yankees #2), and the two Yankee DSL teams (70 players) feed players to their two GCL teams (also 70 players). The Yankees also have a short-season team in the more-advanced New York-Pennsylvania League (NYPL).
Another option would be for the Cubs to place a short season affiliate in either the Pioneer League (with teams in Montana-Idaho-Colorado-Utah), the Appalachian League (with teams in Virginia-West Virginia-North Carolina-Tennessee), or the NYPL (with teams in New York-Pennsylvania-Ohio-Connecticut-Massachusetts-Vermont), thereby providing a third U. S.-based short season affiliate in addition to their affiliates in the NWL and the AZL. (Both the Pioneer League and the Appalachian League are considered "Rookie" leagues like the AZL and GCL, while the NYPL is equivalent to the NWL). Both Orem, UT, and Great Falls, MT, have expiring PDCs with their MLB partners post-2014, should the Cubs opt to establish a third U. S. short-season affiliate in the Pioneer League.
The Cubs had an SS-A team in the NYPL (first in Geneva, NY, and then in Williamsport, PA) prior to moving to the NWL (Eugene) in 1999, so moving their SS-A affiliate from the NWL (Boise) to the NYPL (Hudson Valley?) would not be that much of a surprise.
crunch 14 hours 49 min ago (view)
marvin miller and ted simmons are part of the next HOF class.
long time coming for miller.
crunch 19 hours 27 min ago (view)
things that are important to good on-field play like buying up all the property around wrigley field, from rooftops to acerage, isn't going to monetize itself.
i know some people would love to have a top tier pitcher, but i'm looking forward to more control of rooftop advertising and an open air beer garden near the team owned hotel and resturant complexes.
i know some people want a solid leadoff man, but i'm looking forward to seeing 10-20 concerts on off-days destroying the playing field so that extra revenue can help a polician in Nebraska or Iowa get some ad buys.
Hagsag 20 hours 33 min ago (view)
Their friend Donald will come through for them.
crunch 20 hours 56 min ago (view)
remember when the billionaire owners got a huge double digit tax cut?
maybe the city should do them a favor and give them more tax savings help to let them buy and build another 2-3 revenue projects outside of the park. that might help these struggling heroes find some extra loot.
i know this rant isn't fair, but my "dan winkler got a MLB contract fever" is dying down a bit.
crunch 21 hours 3 min ago (view)
f'real. i don't even know why they're going to bother playing games. i'm over here printing Cubs 2020 World Series Champs banners while others are sleeping on reality.
Dolorous Jon Lester 22 hours 9 min ago (view)
Just saw a fun report that the Cubs are telling even budget type free agents they can't currently negotiate until they clear some payroll. So that's a fun start to the winter meetings.
Dolorous Jon Lester 22 hours 13 min ago (view)
I'm with you 100% on that. Minor league retreads are fine and all but we don't need to be paying premiums for middle relief.
JustSayin' 23 hours 53 min ago (view)
The Cubs have 15-20 extra pitchers in their minor league system due to unbalanced drafting over the last few years. I am ready to see them err on the side of giving the internal guys too many chances as compared to signing AAA players who had short stints in the big leagues which didn't go too well. We don't know it the Cubs organization is just that bad at developing pitching, or has too many guys trying to prove themselves in a fixed number of minor league innings. Bad scouting/development or self-inflicted bottleneck?
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 4 hours ago (view)
Dan Winkler and Jharel Cotton wasn't enough for you? Tough crowd.
Hagsag 1 day 17 hours ago (view)
I think we all are ready for some action.
crunch 1 day 18 hours ago (view)
winter meetings start tomorrow...guys got into town friday/today.
the cubs are supposedly looking to tap the trade market for their major moves. this is the place where it gets done or seeds get planted.
also, the modern day HOF class will be announced. marvin miller will most likely get in. lou whitaker and ted simmons should have some heat, too.
crunch 2 days 8 hours ago (view)
semi-interesting winter league note...
trey mcnutt (yes, that guy) is having a hell of a winter league in mexico (one of the less talented winter leagues) so far as a closer. 15.2ip 8h 4bb 24k, 0.57 era.
giants signed him to a minor league deal a couple weeks ago. he never went anywhere. he's been consistently playing ball in the minors and indie league ball since he was last a noteworthy player. last season he played in the OAK minor league system. 30 years old now...
jdrnym 2 days 15 hours ago (view)
Brad Brach signs with the Mets for $850K but the Cubs are paying $500K, per Ken Rosenthal. Wasn't his 2020 club only supposed to be on the hook for league minimum?
crunch 2 days 15 hours ago (view)
when he got to the mets he suddenly learned how to throw with control (small sample size etc). last year was not a fun bullpen year...
crunch 2 days 18 hours ago (view)
Yeah, I've made myself familiar with a lot of the changes, but AZP's posts have both added more information and cleared up stuff I didn't fully grasp. I appreciate the hell out of it. Thanks Phil, thanks TCR.
bradsbeard 2 days 19 hours ago (view)
Looks like Savant has his breaking pitch classified as a curve while Fangraphs calls it a slider. Suppose by ST he could have made everything over in the pitching lab, so who knows!