MiLB to Shuffle Affiliates; M’s Counting Cards
Perhaps you’re looking for something to wash the foul taste out of your mouth after last night’s game. Well, there’s only so much I can do other than to point out that, hey, at least we have playoff contention to consider here.
In truth, I’m only by on account of something I noticed coming through the wire last night. You see, it being an even-numbered year, the minor leagues are due to have their affiliation contracts renewed or perhaps exchanged. In light of this, it was noted last night on Today’s Knuckleball, which is a fine baseball site not given its proper due, that the Cal League is set to contract Bakersfield and High Desert. The rationale for why, you can read within the article, but both franchises have long been vexed by various on-field issues. Bakersfield has a poor infield and a bad orientation and had long been rumored as a candidate to move to Salinas or elsewhere. High Desert, home of Battleship Baseball, was built in the anticipation of local growth that never came through, nor did its own potential movement to another city with better infrastructure.
This news is relevant to Mariners fans in that we’ve been affiliated with both teams after the Inland Empire 66ers traded up and got themselves a honey of a deal with the Dodgers. I’ll always have fond memories of High Desert although not likely for the right reasons. In truth, we all know the practical elements of the Mariners having major pitchers skip the Cal League to avoid it and the situation in Bakersfield, preferable if the team moved, was also troubled in its own way for aforementioned circumstances. Hard infield. Old stadium. Westward facing? The sun’s only set in that direction for so long, you guys.
Now, where does this leave the Mariners? Incidentally, they have already been planning ahead. You see, according to reports, they have purchased a 51% stake in the Modesto Nuts. While the consequences in terms of “Deez Nuts” jokes are obvious, this has actually been a match-up I’ve wanted for a long time. The Mariners had never been inclined to buy ownership stakes previously, but Modesto is one of the very few California League ballparks that has conditions similar to Safeco. According to Statcorner, home runs are suppressed at a factor of 44 and 64 for left- and right-handed bats respectively. Overall offense is reduced by an 87 factor. I imagine Modesto is probably more livable than other places too, which is an asset as you want your players to be able to focus on baseball.
The remaining four affiliates are TBD at this point. I don’t imagine that we’re going to leave Tacoma or Everett and we’ve been in Jackson for ten years now, with the team recently having broken their season wins record as a Seattle affiliate, and counting. The system itself leads the minor leagues in winning percentage after being bottom five last year. You shouldn’t extrapolate too much from that, as it doesn’t mean that our system has quite suddenly become an unstoppable jugglenaut of prospect power. On the whole, though, things are looking up. What’s happening sucks for those people who have worked for High Desert and Bakersfield these past many years, but from a player development standpoint, this will definitely benefit us going forward.