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Mets may have no choice but to be in Las Vegas again in 2015

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.




60 comments
Brandon Hillman
Brandon Hillman

Build next to nvmc. Gonna tear it down. 20 minute drive for a call up

newark bears stadium

Herb Goldstein
Herb Goldstein

Matt - I believe the Rochester Red Wing's deal with the Twins expires after the 2014 season. Las Vegas is a more appropriate affiliation for Minnesota than it is for the Mets, although the Twins ownership may not see it that way. Rochester NY would be an ideal location for a NY team. If Mets ownership made a strong pitch to Rochester, stressing the progress they have made with their farm system in the past few years and the winning records of their farm teams last year, they might just woo the Red Wings away from the Twins. It was said back in 2012, the last time Rochester's contract came up for renewal, that their primary interest was affiliation with a winning team. Another reason for the Mets focus to be on a winning seasson in 2014. Any possibility the Wilpons and Sandy make a push for Rochester?

DAVID FELDMAN
DAVID FELDMAN

there is no minor league baseball on Long Island, why not Islip?

hankypanky
hankypanky

The last time I was there, the stadium in Montreal was still standing. The roof doesn't work but who cares?

hankypanky
hankypanky

I suppose this means that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas

Ray Mazanek
Ray Mazanek

There is a ballpark right outside of Atlantic City where an independent league team used to play. I think it would be the perfect spot for a AAA team!!

vipregan
vipregan

Since when is Vegas a 3 hour flight from New York?

Pat Brady
Pat Brady

It seems like you're being kind in your summary of the events. According to sources the main reason the Mets got the boot from Norfolk was Jeff WIlpon. The owner of that team said Jeff was a nightmare to deal with. I think similar stories came from Buffalo. 


Having said that, I've been to Cashman field and it wasn't nearly as bad (at least from the outside) as what's been reported. The ball does seem to fly out of there and Vegas can be brutal in the summer but the stadium wasn't run down and the field didn't seem bad. 


Vegas is the absolute last place I'd want my minor league kids though. There's just WAY too much temptation. It's a very seedy town behind the glamour of it. 

Murphy Powner
Murphy Powner

I believe the stadium down in Atlantic city is available

Ron Davis
Ron Davis

i wonder why we can't switch things around like sending the Double A or Single A team to Las Vegas and move the triple A to one of our other minor league stadiums a Stadium is a stadium. 

Kenneth Meltsner
Kenneth Meltsner

Would love to see the Mets consider starting a triple A franchise out on Long Island. Plenty of room and access at Pilgrim State (no, not a joke, although it would be an appropriate residence for the Wilpons). The fans would love it and it would go a LONG way in repairing some of the damage of these last seven years.

nolrog
nolrog

>>> 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.

The Wilpons don't want to suppor the big league club financially.  They won't go out and spend more money to do something like this.  The least of which is because it costs money to do so.

xplr
xplr

At least they are near the casinos...... :)

Ian Roberts
Ian Roberts

It is documented by the Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324423904578523620011106116 that Fredo poisoned the well in Norfolk and ruined relationships in New Orleans and Buffalo too. Most AAA clubs are independent franchises not owned by MLB teams. So the Mets are SOL until something opens up, which won't be too soon. And why would you want to affiliate with Mets ownership the way it is, now? 

cmetsfan
cmetsfan

Maybe if it's that bad a situation, pull your players off the team, name it a new team in a different facility. Intra squad them every game, until it turns into the globetrotters vs the Washington senators arrangement, until you have enough players for your own league. 


It's just interesting this happened at their triple A level, where the players are supposed to be closest to MLB ready, and should've been able to draw a little better in the minors, maybe for autograph type factors.

rstpigeon
rstpigeon

You forgot two years in New Orleans between Tidewater and Buffalo. It seems like there are "logical" fits for many teams but where do you see a logical geographic fit for the Mets? Do you really think all this moving around happens over less than a decade if anyone wants the MLB franchise associated with their town?

mff2014
mff2014

Dumb question - why can't they just make the Coney Island stadium the AAA field? Is it a lack of facilities?

People, you are all missing the point. You can't just pick a stadium and say our AAA team will play there. That's not how it works. There are 30 AAA affiliates, most of them are not owned by the major league team. You can't take the team from Vegas, which the Mets do not own, and move them to the East coast to now all of a sudden play in the International League. The only hope to get into the IL is for one of those existing contracts to expire and for that group to want the Mets. 

Charlie Hangley
Charlie Hangley

Don't forget you had new Orleans for a year between Norfolk & Buffalo...

PanchoVilla
PanchoVilla

not a terrible investment Cerrone.  Just state the facts, they DO NOT HAVE THE MONEY for it.

box231d
box231d

Harbor Yard in Bridgeport CT would be a good home for the Mets AAA affiliate. Get rid of the useless independent Blue Fish team. Newer ballpark, directly off I95, Metro North transportation hub, and the Port Jeff Ferry.

Alan J Tepper
Alan J Tepper

" c) the infield is atrocious, according to people who have been forced played on it,"

Seriously, I'm available to proofread.

Chris DelGuercio
Chris DelGuercio

I live here in Syracuse and we were dying for the Mets to come here the year they chose Buffalo instead. Now we're stuck with the Nats, who no one here could care less about. Syracuse was a Yankee affiliate for a long time in the 60's & 70's and it really grew the fanbase. Everyone here of a certain age is a Yankee fan. Could've done that with the Mets but they went for a quick cash grab in Buffalo. Very short-sighted.

ctdbatboy
ctdbatboy

How about if Minor League Baseball makes a move and relocates AAA Las Vegas to Nassau County (near the home of the NY Islanders hockey) and move the AAA Indianapolis to the Pacific Coast League. That would make perfect sense!

Harry F
Harry F

Forgot the little part where Jeff and Omar Minaya pretty much ignored their long-time (30 year)  Norflolk affiliate to the point that they shut the Mets out? Or what about the part where Jeff and Co. signed essetially no minor league free agents to build a respectable team in Buffalo that would make their ownership happy. Norfolk and Buffalo didn't kick the Mets out because of closer affiliates, they kicked them out because the Mets were a horrible parent-affiliate. 

Ian Roberts
Ian Roberts

Read the Wall Street Journal article. And read others. Rochester and Minnesota have a good working relationship. Fredo ruins minor league relationships. The Mets made their own bed here, and have fouled it.

Ian Roberts
Ian Roberts

He's responding like a good Wilpon employee, what do you think?

SomeHighSchoolKid
SomeHighSchoolKid

@Ron Davis  Because the Mets don't own the teams- They're just partners. The only people who can move the team is the team itself.

Richard
Richard

It's probably not feasible but why can't they just sign a deal with the Ducks and bring them into the international league? It's not like they aren't already losing attendance to them as they are a cheaper alternative without the traffic for many Long Islanders

 The Stevens Baseball group owns the rights to the Las Vegas 51s and they are a member of the PCL. The Mets do not own the team, just an affiliation agreement. It doesn't work like that. The Braves were able to move their AAA team from Richmond to Gwinnett because they in fact own the team and they moved it within the same league. 

Charlie Hangley
Charlie Hangley

Won't happen for 2 reasons:  1 - First Energy Park would need major expansion.  It's clear the Wilpons don't have the money for that.  And 2 - they'd have to pay off the Yankees because Brooklyn would infringe on their MLB territorial rights.  The Wilpons CERTAINLY do not have the cash for THAT one...

anymos
anymos

 How does a franchise get into MiLB?  For instance, if I owned the Somerset Patriots and I saw the Mets stuck in Vegas, I'd love to have them.  They do OK as an independent league team, but if they were affiliated with the Mets, and locals had a chance to see kids play there on their way to the majors...I'd see dollar signs.

Alan J Tepper
Alan J Tepper

Another classic: "their is no local relevance from a brand-building perspective."

vipregan
vipregan

@samc @vipreganExactly. Cerrone is making up numbers again. If it was only 3 hours like Cerrone said it wouldn't be that difficult to get players to NYC on short notice.

10sfilter
10sfilter

@samc it's still there but squatters have broken in and using the suites as homes. 

10sfilter
10sfilter

@Richard It's simple.  The Yankees would block any moves the Mets would propose (Even if on the slim chance the Wilpons could convince the Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club to move the Las Vegas 51's) after the Mets pulled the heelish move in 2012 of not allowing the Yankees to move their Scranton team to Newark for a season to renovate the Scranton ballpark.

Ian Roberts
Ian Roberts

 I always thought it was Moe Greene who owned the Las Vegas 51s, in honor of Senator Geary. Fitting that Saul Katz (of the Lakeville Road ((Exit 33 LIE) Boys) has a hand in the affiliation, along with Allan Huber (Hyman Roth) Selig's pal Fredo. Tahoe is nearby; stay away from the water! 

@Charlie Hangley  And the Mets refused to allow the Yankee AAA team to play one year in Staten Island when their stadium  in Pa.needed repair and expansion. I think the Steinbrenners remember.

Anthony Mastantuoni
Anthony Mastantuoni

@Charlie HangleyActually, the Yankees wanted to put their Triple-A team in Newark for a year.  The Yanks would grant the Mets a one-year exemption in the future, but I believe the Mets wanted a permanent exemption - which would have set the Mets up to buy a team and move it clsoer.