The contract between the Mets and their Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas 51’s, expires after this year and no deal for 2015 has been finalized (Star-Ledger, Mar. 17).
Cashman Field in Las Vegas is widely considered one of the worst ballparks for minor league pitching (Wall Street Journal, 2013).
“We’ll just have to see how things develop,” GM Sandy Alderson said about the partnership (Star-Ledger, Mar. 17). “Let’s face it, we didn’t anticipate being here last year, so. The last thing I’m going to do is speculate about next year.”
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
The Triple-A team’s future all depends on what ballpark is available. The Mets could always try to do what the Braves did and buy their own franchise and build their own ballpark, which would allow them put their affiliate wherever they want. However, that is very unlikely for a variety of reasons, the least of which is it’s probably a terrible investment.
This story starts in Norfolk, where the Mets had their Triple-A affiliate a long, long time ago. The team’s deal expired and Norfolk chose to partner with the Orioles, which makes more sense giving their locations. That offseason, 10 teams were homeless and looking for new homes, including the Mets. The Mets landed in Buffalo. However, similar to Norfolk, Buffalo desperately wanted a partnership with the Blue Jays, which they eventually got, and which forced the homeless Mets to Vegas.
Vegas is a worst-case scenario, a) because it’s a three-hour flight, making quick roster moves a near impossibility, b) the dry-weather and hitter-friendly environment is a mess for pitching prospects, c) the infield is atrocious, according to people who have been forced played on it, and d) their is no local relevance from a brand-building perspective.
Ideally, the Mets wiggle their way in to a team closer to home, which they can begin looking for again this winter, but it doesn’t seem like any affiliate will open up, with most teams and cities under contract through 2015.