Why Spending The Weekend In Las Vegas Was Important For Mets


Saturday, from Adam Rubin:

"Alderson on the possibility of the Mets renewing their affiliation with Las Vegas after this season:  “We’ll just have to see how things develop. We didn’t anticipate being here last year, so the last thing I’m going to do is speculate about next year.  But we have a good relationship with the 51s staff here and there are some positive aspects to being out here.  Frankly, I think it was a nice change from Buffalo.”"

Sandy Alderson perhaps had no chance of reconciling the Mets relationship with the Buffalo Bisons.  There was no wonder why Buffalo treated Alderson coldly.  Omar Minaya effectively burned that bridge, just as he did with the Mets longstanding affiliation with Tidewater/Norfolk, then again with New Orleans.

May 7, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and manager

Terry Collins

(right) talk before the game against the Chicago White Sox at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

In generalizing each situation, all three affiliates complained of being ignored by Omar Minaya and his staff.  In effect, all three dumped the Mets.  New Orleans went running to the Marlins the first chance they got, and before that, Norfolk rejected the Mets in favor of Baltimore.

Buffalo, in particular, also complained about a lack of talent, and the negative effect it was having on their gate.  During the open period of 2012, they hastily shunned the Mets, and signed on with the Toronto Blue Jays, whose contract with Las Vegas expired.

Funny how that worked out – Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud now belong to the Mets.  With Toronto’s farm products, the Buffalo Bisons posted a 74-70 record last season, and failed to qualify for the post-season.  Meanwhile, with the Mets in contract with the Las Vegas 51s after Toronto exited, the 51’s posted an 81-63 record, and won a division flag.

The Mets played split squad games this weekend, with half the team staying in Florida, and the other squad travelling to Las Vegas, where they played the Chicago Cubs.  This was the kind of good will tour the Mets former affiliates accused Omar Minaya of overlooking.

Eagerly anticipating MLB players, the weekend drew packed houses to Cashman Field, that were treated to the likes of David Wright, Curtis Granderson, and Las Vegas 51s veterans and crowd favorites Travis d’Arnaud and Rafael Montero.

The Mets having their AAA affiliate in Las Vegas is clearly not the most ideal situation.  That point has been well discussed, starting with the notoriously hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, to the time difference and difficulty with making timely call-ups, and the brutal heat, all the way down to field conditions and amenities at Cashman Field.

With little question, the relationship has worked out well for Las Vegas so far, and hasn’t hindered the Mets much, if at all.  But if a better opportunity opens to get back in the International League, I feel the Mets should explore it.  A city like Rochester could be an ideal situation.  Their affiliation with the Twins also expires in September.

In the meantime, the Mets should closely monitor developments in Las Vegas area politics.

The Las Vegas 51’s were purchased back in May 2013, by a group named the Summerlin Las Vegas Baseball Club LLC, who held plans to move the team from the downtown area, into a new ball park proposed in nearby Summerlin.  However, the team is unlikely to receive public funding  from Las Vegas, because the proposed site of the park is located just beyond the city limits, in Clark County.

The team owners, the city of Las Vegas, the county, and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, do not seem to be working too feverishly on reaching a resolution either.  This situation suffers from posturing on all sides.  As insurance, team ownership won approval to extend their lease at Cashman Field for another 10 years, but refuse to commit on any improvements.

Despite Terry Collins’ fondness for the Pacific Coast League, and Sandy Alderson’s additionally long experience with the league, the 51’s stalled stadium deal just might be another reason for the Mets to rethink their player development contract with Las Vegas when the next open period rolls around in September.

As a minor league player, Terry Collins played 6 seasons in the PCL, and then went on to manage for another 6 six seasons.  Sandy Alderson has extensive experience with the PCL from his 15 years as Oakland Athletics general manager, and 5 years as CEO of the San Diego Padres.

For this weekend at least, the Mets decision to play in Las Vegas was a moderate public relations success, which will serve them well.

In a related matter, baseball in Binghamton appeared doomed two years ago.  On top of a major lack of talent stemming from Omar Minaya’s reign, the team was rumored to be under threat of being sold, and moved to Ottawa.  Sandy Alderson and the Mets then stepped in and signed a four year agreement with their long time affiliate, which keeps them operating through the 2016 season.

The Mets and the Binghamton B’s have been affiliated since the 1992 season.

However, financial realities always have final sway.  It is not too early for the Mets to start assessing the continued viability of baseball in Binghamton.  Like many upstate New York locations, Binghamton has endured their share of economic hardships, and despite a new abundance of talent, there is growing speculation the area can not continue supporting a AA level team.

Considering the unlikelihood of the Mets signing a four year agreement with Las Vegas later this year, or another city/team, signing a two year deal with Las Vegas, or otherwise, means their AAA situation, and their affiliation with Binghamton, will potentially pose a dual headed issue at the 2016 open period.

Proactively, there really isn’t much they can do.  Sometimes, the open period is akin to minor league roulette.  But the Mets can stay informed, and continue building good relations throughout the league.  We learned through the recent series of soured relationships, how many bridges Omar Minaya in fact actually burned, and how much good relations matter.

At least heading into September, the hope is Sandy Alderson, Paul DePodesta, and J.P. Ricciardi, sufficiently repaired the team’s reputation and standing as a fine affiliate enough to make multiple teams want to align with the Mets.

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