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Buffalo ditching Mets after four years as Triple-A affiliate

Aug 20, 2012, 12:16 PM EST

Welcome-to-Buffalo

For the past four seasons Buffalo has been the Triple-A home of the Mets, but with a 255-304 record during that time there’s been speculation that the relationship is coming to an end.

Bisons manager Wally Backman all but confirmed that yesterday to Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News:

I would guess that’s true. It’s a shame for us, really. Buffalo is a great city but I don’t envision us coming back, from the things I’ve heard from the grapevine.

Buffalo is apparently dumping the Mets for the Blue Jays, who had been in the Pacific Coast League.

There had been some thought that the Mets, if dropped by Buffalo, would stay in the International League and sign on with nearby Rochester, but that’s no longer a possibility after Rochester reached a two-year extension with the Twins.

So where does that leave the Mets? Scrambling for a new Triple-A home and likely being forced out of the International League and into the Pacific Coast League where they’d take over Las Vegas from the Blue Jays. That’s proven to be a less than ideal locale, in part because the PCL and Las Vegas specifically are incredibly hitter-friendly environments that make it tough to develop young pitchers and properly evaluate prospects in general.

  1. proudlycanadian - Aug 20, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    Buffalo would be ideal for the Jays because it is just down the QEW from Toronto. It would be easier for the fans to see players on the top farm team and players who were called up would not have to catch the red eye flights from Vegas. The stadium in Buffalo is quite nice also.

    • sportsdrenched - Aug 20, 2012 at 2:11 PM

      So PC. I was watching the Rangers-Blue Jays yesterday and decided I really liked the Blue Jays lids. If I have actually been to a Blue Jays game, and drove the QEW from Toronto to Niagra Falls, and my favorite band is Rush…do I have enough Toronto cred to wear said Blue Jays lid in middle America should I order one?

      • proudlycanadian - Aug 20, 2012 at 2:41 PM

        Rush is an acquired taste, so you have enough Toronto cred.The 3 members are supposed to live in an expensive enclave of Toronto called Rosedale. I am not sure if that is why Gordon Lightfoot sold his Rosedale house and moved to The Bridle Path.

      • jaysjunkie - Aug 21, 2012 at 2:58 AM

        And let’s not forget that Geddy Lee is a huge baseball fan and takes in several Jays games a year (he always sits in the same seat right behind home plate and even keeps his own score).

        Glad to hear of this arrangement. Las Vegas was always a terrible fit for the Jays.

  2. willclarkgameface - Aug 20, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    From the things Backman has heard FROM The Grapevine? Is he drunk again?

  3. sabatimus - Aug 20, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    I wasn’t aware that AAA teams could dump their MLB affiliates. That sounds terribly convoluted.

    • proudlycanadian - Aug 20, 2012 at 12:54 PM

      AAA teams are privately owned.

    • DJ MC - Aug 20, 2012 at 12:57 PM

      They have contracts for a certain period, and either side can choose not to renew them.

      Ten years ago Rochester was fed up with the poor talent coming through the Orioles organization and decided not to renew their agreement after forty years together. The Orioles ended up with their Triple-A affiliate in Ottawa for several years until becoming one of a bunch of teams switching and ending up with Norfolk.

      • dondada10 - Aug 20, 2012 at 4:08 PM

        And Norfolk had been home of the Mets for years. The Virginia Beach area still has a solid amount of Mets fans.

  4. sdelmonte - Aug 20, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    For a long time, the Mets had utter stability at the Triple A level in the Tidewater region of Virginia. Then the Tides broke off their affiliation, and the Mets were stuck with their team in New Orleans before getting to Buffalo. And now this happens. It makes me wonder if there is some sort of dysfunction in the minor league office to match all the other dysfunction of the past few years.

    • bklynbaseball - Aug 20, 2012 at 1:09 PM

      Funny you should put it quite like that……….

  5. kiwicricket - Aug 20, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    Flying in pitchers from Las Vegas each week, after all of Toronto’s pitchers exploded proved too costly. A weekly barge is now a viable option.

    • proudlycanadian - Aug 20, 2012 at 2:56 PM

      Limo. No way that they would send a barge with players on it, over Niagara Falls.

  6. mybrunoblog - Aug 20, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    The Mets organization from top to bottom seems to be run poorly. The Wilpons have no shame. Come on out and meet the Mets. Plenty of good seats still available.

    • jackrabbit56 - Aug 20, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      …East Coast, West Coast, everybody’s coming ’round, to beat the M-E-T-S Mets from New York town…

    • dondada10 - Aug 20, 2012 at 4:09 PM

      I’m a die hard Mets fan and you nailed it.

  7. terryindallas - Aug 20, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    I don’t know which Buffalo that stock photo is from, but Buffalo NY was established in 1801.

    • kopy - Aug 20, 2012 at 1:36 PM

      It’s not Buffalo, MN. Beyond that, I got nothing.

    • jackrabbit56 - Aug 20, 2012 at 9:21 PM

      I’m guessing Buffalo, Wyoming

  8. umrguy42 - Aug 20, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    So, a question – how does this work? All the players on the team (or presumably most of them) “belong” to the Mets, right? So, basically, Buffalo’s AAA team would have no players, as the Mets minor leaguers end up going to wherever the new team winds up, correct? Or how does this work?

    • ptho16 - Aug 20, 2012 at 2:14 PM

      Yes, all the players on the team are in the Mets organization, so anyone assigned to AAA next year by the Mets will go wherever their new AAA team is and any Blue Jays assigned to AAA will go to Rochester.

  9. dannyocean83 - Aug 20, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    Thought that the Mets Triple-A team was in Queens for the last 3 years….

    • kevinbnyc - Aug 20, 2012 at 1:35 PM

      That’s their high-A affiliate.

  10. bigleagues - Aug 20, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Not only is the PCL less than ideal from a development and evaluation standpoint, but from a taxiing standpoint – for a team located in New York – is AWFUL.

    This could lead to a lot more call-ups from the Met’s Double-A affiliate. While the AA team may be switching affiliates as well, the long-rumored destination – New Britain, CT (which has hosted the Twins since the Red Sox left for Trenton) is about 70 miles closer than to Queens than Binghamton.

    http://www.norwichbulletin.com/sports/x962228008/Despite-rumors-Tigers-are-staying-at-Dodd-Stadium

    Additionally, if Buffalo does indeed become the AAA affiliate of the BJ’s, then the BJ’s are clearly following the Red Sox model in wanting to locate their affiliates as closely to the parent club as possible. Not only does it represent synergy in marketing, but it helps make player development and evaluation more efficient.

    This is because the BJ’s are also rumored to be purchasing the Binghamton franchise and relocating it to Ottawa to become their AA affiliate. This would also be in line with the smart marketing strategy that the BJ’s have been deploying in being ‘Canada’s team’.

    Read more about the potential affiliate shakeup’s here:

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/minors/business-beat/2012/2613876.html

  11. sincitybonobo - Aug 20, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    The Jays have been great to watch here in Las Vegas for the last four seasons. Buffalo makes much more sense, obviously, for the organization.

    Cashman Field is a bit of a launching pad- complete with an unusually hard infield that turns many ground ball outs into singles. Opened 1983, it is a relic with substandard facilities. Building a new park is a priority for the team, but the $50 million price tag is a big hurdle. But, then again, Reno made it happen with much less of a population base.

    Las Vegas does have direct flights to all big league cities and could also be attractive to a number of West Coast cities whose Player Development Contracts are expiring.

  12. abbeyleeishot - Aug 20, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    The PCL is a tough place to develop pitchers? Really because the Sacramento Rivercats seem to do ok( Current A’s Rotation minus Colon , Haren , Blanton , Gio , Cahill , Zigler, Bailey, Street, Cook, Balfour , Blevins, Braden ) all seemed to come out ok. Maybe its excuses like this that have gotten the Mets were they are. AAA teams are a bussiness and if the product they are getting from their supplier is bad of course attendence and cash flow will be down. Almost 19,000 fans came to the Rivercats game this last Sataurday . Of course its only fair to mention it was “Star Wars Night”.

  13. gordongetgo - Aug 20, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    Put the Mets AAA affiliate at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, NJ. JUST outside of the territorial rights shared with the Yankees (Bergen, Hudson, Essex and Union Counties in New Jersey). Would be perfect for the Mets. This stadium currently is home to the Somerset Patriots (an indy team) but you couldn’t tell me the AAA affliliate for the Mets wouldn’t draw more.

    Either that or there is an unused stadium in Atlantic City (closer than Buffalo). The Bernie Robbins Stadium is a 5,500-seat baseball-only stadium in Atlantic City, New Jersey that opened in 1998. Located in Atlantic County, this also falls outside of the Philies territorial rights (includes Gloucester, Camden and Burlington Counties in New Jersey)

  14. millmannj - Aug 20, 2012 at 10:50 PM

    Why don’t the Mets use the ballpark in Newark, NJ? The Yanks wanted to use it this season as a home for their AAA club, while their ballpark underwent renovations, but the Mets used their territorial rights to deny them, causing the AAA-Yanks to spend their season on the road. Maybe the Mets knew things were ending in Buffalo and wanted to keep their options open.

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