Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pirates move High A team

I usually am on board with the Pirates moves since Neal Huntington and his front office were hired,but this one makes absolutely no sense.

The Pirates today purchased the Sarasota Reds of the High A Florida State League and will be moving them to Bradenton and play their games at the Pirate City complex.
The Cincinnati Reds will assume the Pirates contract with the Lynchburg Hillcats organization for the 2010 season.

This move makes little sense on several fronts.
The first is that the Carolina League is the Lincoln Continental of the High A leagues.
Nicer ballparks, more fans,better weather and most importantly-the most balanced league to evaluate prospects by the numbers.
The Florida State League has always been a pitchers league,while the California League has been been a hitters paradise with the Carolina being the one league that was somewhat balanced.
Anytime that an entire league has questions about its statistical data,the result is that your evaluations of your prospects are always going to have questions,no matter how bright the talent is or the evaluator in question.

The Pirates will have issues getting players up and down from Charleston to Bradenton as well as Bradenton to Altoona,where from Lynchburg,players could drive themselves to their new teams and be at their destination same day.
The FSL ranks at the bottom of attendance of leagues and the weather is stifling after April.
I cannot imagine players loving to play in towns that rarely support their teams,oppressive weather and empty ballparks.
Want attendance numbers?
By sheer attendance and keep in mind that these numbers include all the short season leagues that do not have as many home dates.
of the 176 teams in Minor League baseball,the top team in the FSL was the Charlotte Stone Crabs at number 102,the last team was the team leaving Sarasota at 167.
You want average attendance?Try this one on for size.
Only three teams in the Florida State League averaged more than the Hagerstown Suns number of 2,138-Charlotte,Clearwater and Daytona and three teams averaged less than 1,000 fans a night-Lakeland,Dunedin and Sarasota with Palm Beach barely beating the four digit mark at 1,008.
Several players that I have talked to about Bradenton had less than glowing words for the nightlife in Bradenton (not that Lynchburg VA is Los Angeles by any means) and the High A player could spend their time there from Feburary to September.

The only redeeming part of this decision is the theory of keeping their players "on campus",but this often backfires as the player almost hits the going through the motions zone seeing the same concrete jungle every day.
Sure,they will eventually have these things as they move up the ladder,but these are younger and less mature players and this could affect them more.
The Bucs will regret this one,ask the Reds.
They left the CL years ago and my CL contact has told me for years that the Reds were constantly attempting to return to the league for all the reasons that I wrote above.
At least,for the signature world,this brings a new team to the area in the Reds so this could have been worse as far that goes,but still....

What is plane fare from Hagerstown to Bradenton cost anyway???

Sorry,Neal-I don't have your back on this one.


Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

You have to think that a deal was struck with Lynchburg to forego the final year of its PDC to allow this swap to happen -- I would think a four-year extension rather than the usual three.

Shawn said...

I don't think Lynchburg likely cared that much as long as an affiliate was in place.
I do know that Cincinnati did exactly what Pittsburgh is about to do after being bumped from Potomac after the 2004 season in favor of the Nationals and spent the next five years trying to get back in.

What the Reds did and what the Pirates are about to try sounds great in theory,but only once you are in the FSL can you truly appreciate the quality of the Carolina League.

Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

Let's just hope they have the sense to keep the name and brand in place. I hate teams that simply rename and rebrand themselves as the parent club (yes, I'm indicting both Salem and Potomac here) because it robs the local fans of a connection to their teams. The Lynchburg Reds? *ack!*

I don't mind as much if they change the colors (though I really like the green-and-gold) which is maybe why the Suns have kept the orange-and-black (more likely: no need to buy new uniforms).

I still think Lynchburg will wrangle an extension out of this. It may not be publicized now, but if you're right about Cincy wanting back in so badly, it'd be in their best interests to lock in through 2013.

Shawn said...

I certainly think the Reds would sign an extension,ASAP,but Lynchburg might want to shop around.

I do agree about rebranding parent clubs names.
Just takes away from the unique flavor of minor league baseball in my opinion