Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What Happens In Vegas . . . Oh Just Please Leave Vegas

I was never a fan of the Mets AAA affiliation with the Las Vegas 51s.  I did not like how the top minor leaguers would be playing across the country, in a timezone that would make it difficult for me to watch games online and even more difficult for me to see some of my favorite players in person.  I didn't like that the pitching-heavy organization would be playing in a hitters league and specifically a hitters park.  However, my gripes ended there.

On Monday, a piece came out from the Wall Street Journal detailing exactly what the baseball experience is like in Las Vegas.  In short, the field is dry and poorly cared for with only two groundskeepers to work on it, there is no indoor batting cage in the facility, and the Mets are stuck with this because of Jeff Wilpon.  No AAA team wants to be affiliated with the Mets and no MLB team wants to be affiliated with the 51s.

Jeff Wilpon put the Mets in this hole cutting off nearly communication between the Mets and the Norfolk Tides in 2002.  The Mets have since worked with the New Orleans Zephyrs, Buffalo Bisons, and now the 51s.  After sticking with one team from 1969 until 2006 it was a little weird to see the Mets shuffle around the AAA map.  The partnership with Buffalo would have been nice to continue, but the Mets couldn't figure out how to field a winning team in the minor leagues (and when last season started off nicely, they refused to discuss an extension with the Bisons).

I have continued to follow the Bisons as they are now affiliated with the Bule Jays.  I was admittedly bitter when I began to see everything the teams were doing to emphasize the new partnership and I wondered why the Bisons never seemed to put in the same effort with the Mets.  Now it is more clear that the Mets were the ones who may not have cared.

The Mets, namely Jeff Wilpon, took the partnership with the Tides for granted and nobody has learned how to bounce back yet.

So, if you have followed all this you will realize the Wilpons have not only strapped the Mets big league team, they have also been a detriment to the minor leagues. 

My first reaction to this piece was disbelief. The Vegas facilities sounded more like a high school than a team one level away from the majors. I've learned enough about minor league baseball to understand conditions can be less than ideal, but no professional players should have to resort to a batting cage behind their stadium if they want to take a few extra swings in the afternoon. Marty Brown (AAA manager for the Blue Jays) should not have had to water the field himself when there weren't enough groundskeepers to do the job. No team should have to play short handed because it takes half a day to get players to that affiliation. 

The Mets will be stuck in the most undesirable of situations for at least two years. They have gained a reputation o being a bad partner and the front office has to change that for the sake of the players. They want to build this organization from the bottom up but I can't imagine anybody wanting to sign a minor league deal with the Mets right now. Any team looking to build from within needs organizational depth and now even that could be a challenge.

It is really frustrating to find out the Mets have failed beyond the major leagues. It's hard enough to get through the grind of a minor league season and the Mets aren't making anything easier for their prospects. 

Hopefully the Mets will squeeze back into the International League in 2016. Hopefully they'll be anywhere but Vegas. 

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