Well, what was on the edge of being a done deal is officially done; the Mets will be moving their Triple-A operations to the Las Vegas 51s. The team was formally a part of the Blue Jays organization, but once New York couldn’t agree with the Buffalo Bisons on a renewal to their PDA, Toronto jumped on the opportunity to have a local team to make calling up players easier than before.
The deal for the Mets and Las Vegas is a two-year agreement, effectively moving New York’s most polished farmhands to the Pacific Coast League, which notoriously is a great league for hitters, but crummy for pitchers, which could prove tough for top pitching prospects like Zack Wheeler and Jeurys Familia. However, it looks to be a better market than Buffalo was, as the 51s have drawn over 300,000 fans a season in each of their 30 years in existence, while also serving as part of the Padres and Dodgers farm systems before working most recently with the Jays.
When Adam Rubin asked manager Terry Collins about the higher altitudes his Triple-A players will be participating in next year, he offered this point of view:
“I remember for years in Albuquerque they used to take 25 points off your batting average immediately because you were playing in Albuquerque. Well, I saw Kevin McReynolds play in Las Vegas and hit 30-something homers. And he’s still a pretty good hitter. Again, I think if you’re good enough you can pitch or player anywhere.”
Terry is right; if you’re a MLB-caliber pitcher or position player, it doesn’t matter where you play, you will succeed. So, there shouldn’t be any excuses when next year rolls around, but there is no doubt that the front office is a little hesitate about throwing their #1 prospect in Wheeler out there during the final stages of his development as a Major League pitcher.
Up in the Big Leagues, Collins said that Lucas Duda will be playing first base against southpaws for the remaining weeks of the season, so the coaching staff can see as much of the slugging lefty as possible. Since he was recalled from Triple-A, Duda has shown that he can bounce back, especially lately, as he’s 6-for-his-last-16, which includes a homer and two doubles. The Mets continue to say that the Dude will remain an outfielder in the organizational plans moving forward.
Brian Erni of MetsBlog makes a fantastic point, which is: why put him at first base, taking time away from Ike Davis, when he’s going to be playing the outfield for this team next year? He obviously needs help in the outfield, so the more reps, the better, right? It makes total sense, but I think this comes back to the fact that the front office will be trying to maximize the possible trade value of every player before the season finishes. From what Sandy Alderson said a few weeks ago, there aren’t many “untouchable” players when it comes to trade discussions, so that’s the only logical reason I can think of for this particular move.
It’s that time again; the World Baseball Classic is getting ready to kick off. With Baseball no longer a part of the Summer Olympics, this is the prime time tournament for the sport to showcase its talent to the entire globe. Both Ruben Tejada and Manny Acosta will be joining Team Panama from November 15th-19th for the qualifying rounds, as they will go up against Brazil, Colombia, and Nicaragua. Rubin reports on ESPN New York that once this competition is done, Tejada plans to come back to the states to train with Jose Reyes for the rest of the winter.