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Is the Affiliation Dance about to begin?

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#21 DuluthFan

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 03:59 PM

Duluth has a huge Twins fan base (including thousands of UMD students from the Twin Cities), and the Huskies (Northwoods League) average around 1,000 fans per game - which is ~150 more than the Snappers. They play in a 100 year old stadium that is up for a renovation that would be guaranteed if they were to be granted a Twins affiliate.

I think a low A team could thrive there. It would expand the Midwest League a bit geographically, but I have been thinking for a while that the Twins should explore it. If an independent league team can survive there, and Duluth has had independent league teams surviving in Wade Stadium for decades, a Twins should do very well. Minor league teams do not necessarily have to be a sunk cost.


A low level affiliate in Duluth would be nice but I don't think the numbers would work. Yes, there is the UMD students to draw from, but classes are usually out during the summer. I have never attended a Huskies game, but I have to question the 1000 fans per game number. With those numbers you would see the nearby parking lots filled more often. During the Dukes most recent tenure here they had attendance problems which led the team to move to Indiana. I remember a playoff game with attendance under 400. While the Huskies have survived here for a few years, these are unpaid college eligible players, not paid players with a payroll needing to be supported by attendance. The 100 year old Wade Stadium is a nice vintage park but is in need of major upgrades to support a MLB affiliate. There has been talk since professional baseball returned in the 1990's to upgrade this park, but the local money is not there to fix it. While the field itself has always been maintained, the seating, concessions and restrooms are not what you would expect to find in a MLB affiliate stadium.
I would love to see a team here. But I just can't see it happening.

#22 spideyo

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 04:02 PM

I would be surprised if Beloit left. It's fairly close, and it seems like there are always lots of Twins fans tripping out there. They also seem to be doing a decent job of player development. Rochester on the other hand... They've been around longer than the Twins have, and the last couple years have been BAD for them. I would expect that they would actually be more likely to nix the contract than the Twins would. They want to return to their winning ways, and if they don't think the Twins are going to make that happen, I wouldn't be surprised if they look elsewhere. Are there any AAA teams any closer to us that might be open to switching affiliations? Far more likely we would switch to an existing team, and then try to move them in a few years, than that we would start a new team from scratch in a new market

#23 IdahoPilgrim

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 04:05 PM

I would be surprised if Beloit left. It's fairly close, and it seems like there are always lots of Twins fans tripping out there. They also seem to be doing a decent job of player development.

Rochester on the other hand...

They've been around longer than the Twins have, and the last couple years have been BAD for them. I would expect that they would actually be more likely to nix the contract than the Twins would. They want to return to their winning ways, and if they don't think the Twins are going to make that happen, I wouldn't be surprised if they look elsewhere.

Are there any AAA teams any closer to us that might be open to switching affiliations? Far more likely we would switch to an existing team, and then try to move them in a few years, than that we would start a new team from scratch in a new market


You do know they are playing .500 ball this year and have an outside shot to make the playoffs, don't you? And based on New Britain's results this year Rochester can look forward to some better players in the pipeline.

#24 Bark's Lounge

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 04:06 PM

I have always been surprised that Lincoln,Nebraska doesn't have a team.

Omaha has always done pretty well, and the distance between Omaha and Lincoln is far enough where it shouldn't effect much.


Not too sure about this. I think it is less than 60 miles from Omaha to Lincoln. That seems pretty close, especially for the mid-west market. Not to say it couldn't support it (I have never been there). Seems pretty tight in proximity though.

#25 spideyo

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 04:18 PM

You do know they are playing .500 ball this year and have an outside shot to make the playoffs, don't you? And based on New Britain's results this year Rochester can look forward to some better players in the pipeline.


They are 5th in their division, and 6th in the wild card hunt. They have about the same chance of making the playoffs as the Royals do.

And yes there are better players in New Britain, but if you follow some people's suggestions and trade everyone, most of those guys will be needed in Minneapolis next year.


Really, it's more a question of is this the start of an upward trend, or just a slight improvement. Remember, 2010-2011 were the worst two years for Rochester in 107 years.

#26 Shane Wahl

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 04:20 PM

And based on New Britain's results this year Rochester can look forward to some better players in the pipeline.


New Britain's performance last year was great too. But the Twins will more likely repeat players at New Britain next year or push them up to the MLB roster where they will be Tosoni-ed (2011) and Parmelee-d (2012).

Anyway, I don't see the MWL adding Duluth. Only a big re-alignment is really going to bring any minor league affiliate into Minnesota.

#27 spideyo

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 05:21 PM

Anyway, I don't see the MWL adding Duluth. Only a big re-alignment is really going to bring any minor league affiliate into Minnesota.



Good point. Probably the best chance we'd get of having an affiliate in Minnesota would be if MLB brought the entire American Association league into the Minor League farm system and gave every team one more affiliate

#28 Jim Crikket

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 06:20 PM

Minnesota missed out on an opportunity to get MWL teams a few years ago. Communities in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio started building new stadiums when smaller communities in Iowa and neighboring areas weren't willing to do so. Several teams moved east. If Rochester, Albert Lea, maybe La Crosse WI, had made a move together, the MWL wouldn't have shifted east. Now, it would be difficult to get MWL teams anywhere in MN.
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#29 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 06:42 PM

It would be nice if the Twins could convince the Pirates to swap AAA affiliates (Rochester for Indianapolis). It's a 100 miles or so closer to Rochester for them. And Indy is what, 700 miles closer for the Twins? At least it makes for an interesting road trip next summer if A- is still in Beloit. Beloit for the snappers, Chicago for Twins vs. Sux and Indianapolis for (a team not likely to be called "Indians" anymore if the Twins got the team, for two very different reasons). And back.


I live in Indy... this would be really nice.

#30 greengoblinrulz

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 07:58 PM

Personally, I hope MN keeps its teams out east. The inflated #s of players out west makes it VERY difficult to judge players. At least the players out east play on a somewhat even ground with geography not a part of the stats. Remember some of our numbers in Edmonton & Salt Lake??

#31 DaveW

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 08:14 PM

[quote name='Bark's Lounge;36477]Not too sure about this. I think it is less than 60 miles from Omaha to Lincoln. That seems pretty close' date=' especially for the mid-west market. Not to say it couldn't support it (I have never been there). Seems pretty tight in proximity though.[/QUOTE']

Yeah 60 miles sounds about right, I always remembered it being an hour+ when I was a kid and there being nothing in between, though I haven't been back in 15 years or so. Will people really travel 60 miles or so to see minor league baseball?

Lincoln does have a decent population 250k, so I think they could handle a minor league club, they support minor league hockey and of course College football quite a bit! The college baseball team draws pretty nicely as well.

Not saying they need a AAA team, just suprised there hasn't been a team pop up as I think the city would support them well.

#32 neli21

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 08:31 PM

A low level affiliate in Duluth would be nice but I don't think the numbers would work. Yes, there is the UMD students to draw from, but classes are usually out during the summer. I have never attended a Huskies game, but I have to question the 1000 fans per game number. With those numbers you would see the nearby parking lots filled more often. During the Dukes most recent tenure here they had attendance problems which led the team to move to Indiana. I remember a playoff game with attendance under 400. While the Huskies have survived here for a few years, these are unpaid college eligible players, not paid players with a payroll needing to be supported by attendance. The 100 year old Wade Stadium is a nice vintage park but is in need of major upgrades to support a MLB affiliate. There has been talk since professional baseball returned in the 1990's to upgrade this park, but the local money is not there to fix it. While the field itself has always been maintained, the seating, concessions and restrooms are not what you would expect to find in a MLB affiliate stadium.
I would love to see a team here. But I just can't see it happening.


http://northwoods.bb...&seasonid=12218

I have been around UMD for 8 years - long enough to know that thousands of students take summer classes each year. They also work jobs on and off-campus. Its not enough to fill the stadium even if each one were to go to every game, but the point stands that there is a strong existing fan base there year-round. The weather argument that some people will make most comes into play in April and September, but the academic year runs through May and resumes again in time for the playoffs.

I am not well versed on the payroll situations for minor league players, but I had always assumed that they are all paid by the major league team. From what I've read, since the MLB has absorbed the minor leagues the affiliates haven't operated for the purposes of sustaining on their own. The MLB teams support them and the affiliates exist for the sole purpose of better developing prospects to benefit the major league cash cow. Bill James actually wrote an interesting article regarding MiLB reorganization on his website, and that article was published again in his book "Solid Fool's Gold". I thought he went way too far with his ideas, specifically on the rules he wanted to put in place to limit the oversight of MLB affiliates, but I trust his knowledge on the history of the minor leagues and their current purpose.

If that wasn't the case you wouldn't have teams like the Snappers drawing under 900 a game even the teams top prospect and another top 3-5 organizational prospect starting the year there. They would be long gone. I think we are all in agreement that it shouldn't have to be that way. I'm simply arguing that Duluth, among other places, would be a better option in that respect that Beloit. Barring major league realignment throughout the minor leagues, the Midwest League is also the only current realistic option (geographically speaking) if a Twins affiliate were to come to this state.

#33 jtrinaldi

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 08:36 PM

Duluth's closest drive would be 6 hours....that is not happening. The Midwest league is perfectly set up, so no reason to change it (other than affiliate change)
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#34 70charger

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 08:42 PM

Bill James actually wrote an interesting article regarding MiLB reorganization on his website, and that article was published again in his book "Solid Fool's Gold". I thought he went way too far with his ideas, specifically on the rules he wanted to put in place to limit the oversight of MLB affiliates, but I trust his knowledge on the history of the minor leagues and their current purpose.


Googled; couldn't find. I'm not ready to buy the book. Do you happen to have a link to the article?

#35 IdahoPilgrim

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 08:45 PM

http://northwoods.bb...&seasonid=12218


I am not well versed on the payroll situations for minor league players, but I had always assumed that they are all paid by the major league team. From what I've read, since the MLB has absorbed the minor leagues the affiliates haven't operated for the purposes of sustaining on their own. The MLB teams support them and the affiliates exist for the sole purpose of better developing prospects to benefit the major league cash cow.


That's not entirely true. Yes, the salaries of the players and coaching/training staff are all paid by the parent club, but the cost of putting on the games (ushers, support staff, concessions) are paid by the minor league club, who also keep the gate revenue and any media rights. Most minor league clubs are owned by those who seek to make money from them, just as the major league club owners seek to make money (at least most of them). That's why they spend so much time thinking up promotions and trying to improve the game-day experience, because they want repeat customers. When I was in central Illinois I attended a lunch at which the owner of the Peoria Chiefs (low-A affiliate of St. Louis at the time) gave a good description of how the relationship with the parent club worked. That's why minor league team owners get uneasy/annoyed when the players sent by the parent have several losing seasons in a row - that depresses attendance and cuts into the revenue/profits of the local club owner.

There has been a growing trend for major league clubs to buy/own their own affiliates (I think the Atlanta Braves own all of theirs) and that may one day become the norm, but it's not yet.

Edited by IdahoPilgrim, 22 July 2012 - 08:53 PM.


#36 snepp

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 08:59 PM

Sioux Falls has the independent League Canaries.


They're the Pheasants now. :)

#37 Bark's Lounge

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 09:12 PM

Yeah 60 miles sounds about right, I always remembered it being an hour+ when I was a kid and there being nothing in between, though I haven't been back in 15 years or so. Will people really travel 60 miles or so to see minor league baseball?

Lincoln does have a decent population 250k, so I think they could handle a minor league club, they support minor league hockey and of course College football quite a bit! The college baseball team draws pretty nicely as well.

Not saying they need a AAA team, just suprised there hasn't been a team pop up as I think the city would support them well.


I definitely agree they could probably support a minor league team. AAA might be a stretch and Omaha irritant, but I would imagine they could probably tote a AA club. I might not be correct, but region wise, doesn't Springfield, MO and Wichita, KS have AA clubs? They have roughly a 250-500K population. With Omaha being pretty baseball rich, you would think it has spread somewhat to Lincoln... they must like their baseball.

#38 neli21

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 09:48 PM

Googled; couldn't find. I'm not ready to buy the book. Do you happen to have a link to the article?


Sorry, no link. The article was titled "The Minor League Pyramid", but all I've been able to find online is links referencing. It is essentially about how the major league teams have taken over minor league baseball and changed it in ways that benefits nobody. The title is derived from the pre-1950's model, a more ideal structure, where there are less teams in AAA than there are in AA, less teams in AA than there are in A ball, etc. There are more players that are realistically at a single A level than there are players at a AAA level, so why should each team have just one team at each level? It often causes teams to pigeon-hole certain players for certain levels based less on their abilities than on organizational depth. A pyramid model would allow the best players to naturally rise through the system.

It is hard for me to disagree with that, but his proposals for changes go overboard. He suggested to expand minor leagues to the point where each team has 2 affiliates at the highest level, 4 at the next, 6 at the next, and then 8 at the bottom. I think 1, 2, 3, 4 would be more realistic. Among other things, he also suggests that MLB teams relinquish control of a large chunk of the players on their affiliates' roster, giving the minor league teams room for personnel management, and requiring players to stay in the minor leagues for at least three seasons.

The book was worth the read and covered a lot of different topics, but too new to find for cheap on sites like AbeBooks.

Edited by neli21, 22 July 2012 - 09:53 PM.


#39 70charger

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 11:14 PM

Thanks. I'm going to go check out the book again to see if it's worth the money. It could be, but my book queue is so long....

#40 Jeremy Nygaard

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 02:04 PM

Something worth pointing out: While checking out the Snappers Pro Shop last night, it was pointed out that some t-shirts were discounted (from $15 to $12). Which t-shirts were they? The ones that associated the Snappers with the "Minnesota Twins".