It's no secret that I'm into the more business-end of baseball things than most Cubs fans. It's also no secret I'm leading a personal crusade to add a team to our affiliate network. Now, I have located a website that filled me in on some of the particulars.
According to the site (which seems to be updated rather effectively), there are a few landing points for the Cubs should Team Theo go that way. First which, and then why.
AAA, AA, High-A, and Low-A are not of that much interest. Iowa and Tennessee are nailed for a few years, Daytona and Peoria will either carry on, or be replaced. While each are big enough news, I'll pass on discussing them. As Josh posted, we have re-upped with Boise, which I love, since I'm getting the MiLB package next year. Fiberpipe out-produces most Low-A outfits for video feed.
So, what else is there?
In the Short Season range (equivalent to Boise), State College and the Pirates are having a nasty tiff. While wins and losses aren't supposed to be the thing at the minor league level, a club has a hard time selling tickets when their team is always terrible. State College is looking for a new parent club.
The Cardinals are contemplating walking away from short season, which would leave Batavia open. The Marlins haven't re-upped with Jamestown. A few others are not signed, but expect to be.
The Cubs have a Rookie League Team in Mesa. Should they add another? Is it important to? Really, I'm not sure, but my comments are below. These teams may be available.
White Sox and Bristol
Mets and Kingsport
Both are in the Appalachian League
Why would we want more teams? Wouldn't real prospects already be being placed at the existing teams? Wouldn't it be a waste of time and effort?''
43.1 71.0 55.1,
Paul Blackburn. Duane Underwood. Ryan McNeil. Anthony Prieto. Carl Lang. Corbin Hoffner.
Dillon Maples. Ethan Elias. Arturo Maltos-Garcia.
James Pugliese. Ian Dickson
There are any of a various number of different reasons to keep a player (especially a pitcher) in the compound (Mesa) instead of 'sending him off' to a team. Some athletes, like some non-athletes, really aren't mature enough to be left to their own devices at a young age (18-20). Some aren't good enough. Some have enough mechanical flaws that they are better served under close supervision. With some, pitch counts are King.
There are very valid reasons to keep players, especially pitchers, in Mesa. But some kids are ready to try a real road trip, and see if they are ready.
Boise had 5 pitchers log over sixty innings in the regular season. Tayler Scott led the way with 71 1/3. That is a nice/proper workload for a kid a year removed from high school. As he did well, it puts him in line for the Kane County (?) rotation next year. Jose Arias was in the same neighborhood.
Ian Dickson and James Pugliese logged a bit over sixty IP, but struggled some. They are in line to repeat the level, which isn't a crime. They need to work on some things at Short Season Ball after Extended Spring Training. They could improve enough to get bumped to the MWL, but we'll have to see.
Tyler Bremer and a few other College Picks made a play for SS rotation spots as well. Boise's pen will be a mix of the new and the old, draft picks and holdovers.
The first list of names are 2012 HS (or very young college) pitching draftees. Presumably, some of these kids will warrant a bump in innings next season. The 2013 kids will need places to play.
With all the Strasburg and Samardzija talk has been the increased discussion on the upside of a gradual increase of innings for pitchers. In general, the goal is to noodge a pitcher's IP numbers up slowly. If you had fifty last year, bump it to seventy. Eighty, try a hundred. One ten to one fifty, or a bit below. You get the picture. At the lower minors, the goal is to routinely extend, not massively increases.
The first number above was the IP of Mesa's leader Carlos Martinez-Pumarino (WHIP 1.15). The only other over 30 was Alvido Jimenez at 30.1 (WHIP 0.85). Mesa innings are scarce.
The second number above was how many innings led the Kingsport (Mets) and the third number led the Bristol (White Sox). I don't know who John Gant or Todd Kibby are, or how many connecting flights would be required to travel from Phoenix to Kingsport or Bristol, but I'd prefer a healthy and ready SP candidate get 60 innings than 31 or so.
Will we have enough hitters to field a team? I'm sure we will. Izaac Garsez seems like a perfect fit for starting in Boise, if needed. He played at the College Of Idaho, and represented well on the Division Champs. Trevor Gretzky will need to start for a few months in 2013. Lance Rymel and Justin Marra appear to be perfect for the sub-Low-A Levels next year. Depth could be a problem, briefly. As could (longer term) star power in the sites. Remember, though, the Mesa Cubs were keyed for awhile by guys like Timothy Saunders and Ben Carhart, both of whom had no business ripping up the Arizona League. Shawon Dunston Jr. replaced Trey Martin, and Dunston was better than the Arizona League.
We might have to sign a few free agents to get us through. The Independent Leagues always have guys happy to 'go affiliated'. Most would be 'at bats' or 'innings eaters', but if you look at it from far enough away, most guys are anyway.
But, really, build on minor leaguers? Dallas Green did it in the 80's and that's when our system was strong enough to be compared to now. But seriously, when has an organization ever benefited from focusing on the minor leagues?
Look up Branch Rickey.
Oh, and I apologize for breaking my sabbatical. I thought this needed a mention, as minor league squads that are unaffiliated are free agents the next 2 weeks.
I would prefer another Rookie League Team (as opposed to Short Season squad), though I would prefer a NY/Penn League Team then nothing. Alvido Jimenez will need to get himself 50 innings or so somewhere next year.