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MLB Proposals: Eliminate 42 Minor League Teams, Restructure Leagues, Move MLB Draft After CWS

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Both articles worth a read (both are long/well-written), and both have major (haha) impacts, with the minor league restructuring being the biggest (biggest in over 50 years).

First, the smaller one: Moving the Draft: https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/how-moving-the-draft-would-impact-college-baseball/

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Moving the draft to July would eliminate any overlap with the college baseball season, and that’s a win for the players who would not have to split their attention between a win-or-go-home game and a chance to become a professional, something they have spent years working for.

But it’s not all rosy. A July draft date would leave most players with less time to decide whether to sign a professional contract before college classes start. For coaches, it would also make the already complicated math of distributing 11.7 scholarships among 27 players even harder.

Restructuring Minor League: https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/mlb-floats-proposal-that-would-eliminate-42-minor-league-teams/

Quote

The Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) between Major League Baseball and minor league teams expires at the end of the 2020 season. But if a new MLB proposal were to become reality, more than three dozen cities with affiliated minor league teams will lose those teams a year from now and thousands of minor league players will be out of work as well.

The MLB proposal is just one idea at the start of what will likely be a lengthy negotiation, but the two sides are further apart than they have been in any PBA negotiation since 1990. At the core of the negotiations, MLB is looking to dramatically improve Minor League Baseball’s stadium facilities as well as take control over how the minor leagues are organized as far as affiliations and the geography of leagues. Those areas have been under the control of MiLB for the past 100-plus years and would lead to a dramatic restructuring of how MiLB is governed and operates.

MLB has offered a proposal that, if adopted, would reduce Minor League Baseball from 160 teams—not counting the complex league teams that are wholly MLB-owned—to 120 beginning in 2021.

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The proposal is described as a preliminary offering subject to alteration. But if the proposal, or some version of it, is adopted, it will lead to the most dramatic restructuring of the minor leagues in more than half a century. Under the proposal, not only would more than 25 percent of MiLB teams be eliminated, but the remaining leagues would also be dramatically reworked with some leagues getting much smaller, others getting bigger, and teams switching classification levels all around the country.

First, I'm sure Round Rock will be safe, same with Sugar Land (two teams I vaguely follow, and the two whose games we have attended in recent years) - they have nice facilities, and good locations.

Second, I like the idea of focusing on geography, since the amount of fans willing to travel will go way up.  We haven't had time to attend a lot of minor league games, but plan on it in the future now that our kids are older.

Note: I'm not tied to those teams like many fans are, and MLB taking control of everything, reclassifying, etc. does worry me.  It sounds great on paper, them wanting to boost player salaries and have higher standards for the stadiums.

But what that all means to me will be much higher ticket prices, and like the article mentions, some of the smaller leagues/clubs are not going to be able to handle the jump in increased costs.  

Again,. I could be wrong, we are casual fans (we are doing good to make it to 1-2 Astros games a year, and about the same for RR Express), but I always liked the idea of being able to go watch cheap minor league games (same with local racing, minor league hockey, etc.).  

They mess with it too much, we'll just spend what little money we do on baseball on Longhorn games, and I wonder if many others will look to local collegiate baseball as well.

I'm curious what the hardcore Surly braintrust thinks of all of this.

Edited by atomheartbevo

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6 minutes ago, Nice Guy Eddie said:

Sugar Land is in an independent league and not affiliated with MLB.  

They are, and they have more resources/better facilities than most independents, but MLB is proposing to bring them into the family:

Quote

The proposal even suggests a pair of independent league clubs—in St. Paul, Minn., and Sugar Land, Texas—would be brought into affiliated ball.

I don't think SL would turn them down if things go down the way they are proposing they do.

I don't know how all of the realignment/reclassification/etc. would play out, since the Astros didn't want an affiliate in the Houston area, as well as do they start playing RR and other Texas teams?  Or are they still playing a lot of New England teams?  Same with RR.

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Reorganization of leagues aside.

 

1. Harden the pitch clock with a ball/strike penalty for the party that breaks it. 

2. Outlaw the shift so more balls go in play.  

3.  Hard limits on mound visits from anybody (looking at you catchers....a QB doesn't get to stop the play and make sure he and the WR are on the same page about what is called...practice that shit and be better)

 

Basically speed up the game and make some attempt to eliminate the predictable nuclear warfare it has become of strikeouts, and home runs.

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OK, but why didn't you post that on the Shaka recruiting thread?  Just as relevant there.

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4 hours ago, atomheartbevo said:

A July draft date would leave most players with less time to decide whether to sign a professional contract before college classes start. For coaches, it would also make the already complicated math of distributing 11.7 scholarships among 27 players even harder.

That's an NCAA problem created entirely by the NCAA.  Shouldn't be a consideration.  

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Draft should be cut to 30 rounds, most guys taken after the 35th round don’t sign anyway. And streamlining the minor leagues & paying those players more would be a good thing. Most MLB teams have 8 or 9 minor league squads, which is ridiculous. 

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9 hours ago, atomheartbevo said:

They are, and they have more resources/better facilities than most independents, but MLB is proposing to bring them into the family:

I don't think SL would turn them down if things go down the way they are proposing they do.

I don't know how all of the realignment/reclassification/etc. would play out, since the Astros didn't want an affiliate in the Houston area, as well as do they start playing RR and other Texas teams?  Or are they still playing a lot of New England teams?  Same with RR.

Gotcha.  Seems very convenient of MLB to invite Sugar Land into the club after Sugar Land achieved what they did on their own despite MLB not wanting a club in the Houston area.

 

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If they fold Corpus Christi, I will cut someone.

Edited by kevwun

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7 hours ago, Nice Guy Eddie said:

Gotcha.  Seems very convenient of MLB to invite Sugar Land into the club after Sugar Land achieved what they did on their own despite MLB not wanting a club in the Houston area.

Brother-in-law who is a season ticket holder there in Sugar Land, (and who sent the articles to me and has been following this stuff for years) thinks that Sugar Land and St. Paul would not have been mentioned in the proposal, unless MLB had already talked to those clubs.  Granted, he's a sunshine pumper (has a business there in SL and is big on anything involving SL), but he's probably right - MLB isn't going to pitch bringing clubs into the fold unless they already knew they would accept.

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There's pretty much no way an independent team would turn down an offer from MLB.  No matter how well they are doing, they would do even better as an affiliate.  Sugar Land's owners have had this as the goal from the start.

Edited by kevwun

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2 hours ago, kevwun said:

If they fold Corpus Christi, I will cut someone.

I think they are probably safe - the Astros have pumped 10s of millions into that organization and facilities.

I'd love to see their roadmap for reorganizing and reclassifying all of these minor league teams.   It's an odd thing - on the one hand, they plan on increasing player salaries and improving facilities, but on the other, geographic-focused leagues/games should cut down on travel costs, and could actually increase ticket sales over the long run (fans might be more willing to travel a few hours on the weekends - Express fans ain't traveling to fucking Iowa or California, but might to Sugar Land or other locations in the state).

Edited by atomheartbevo

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Do as you please with pitch clocks but until MLB puts a halt to the networks trying to cram each half-inning with as many commercials as possible, the games will continue to get longer.  Especially the playoffs when they know more people are watching.

I realize that more commercials means more revenue, but more commercials means longer games and ultimately less eyeballs.  A balance needs to be struck somewhere. 

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16 hours ago, Surly Bevo said:

2. Outlaw the shift so more balls go in play. 

No, no, no.

If the team in the field wants to use a pitcher and put the other 8 guys in a circle around 2nd base, or in any other configuration, that's their prerogative.

A better solution is to teach bat-to-ball skills, including bunting, again.  Pure hitters would bat .500 against the shift.  Hell, Henry Aaron would bat 1.000 on bunt singles.  It's embarrassing that so many professional hitters can't beat the shift.  You don't make a rule to prevent it; you make hitters work on their craft to force teams to stop using it.

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17 hours ago, Surly Bevo said:

Reorganization of leagues aside.

 

1. Harden the pitch clock with a ball/strike penalty for the party that breaks it. 

2. Outlaw the shift so more balls go in play.  

3.  Hard limits on mound visits from anybody (looking at you catchers....a QB doesn't get to stop the play and make sure he and the WR are on the same page about what is called...practice that shit and be better)

 

Basically speed up the game and make some attempt to eliminate the predictable nuclear warfare it has become of strikeouts, and home runs.

I believe the ridiculous overuse of the shift is temporary anomaly.  Someone will teach guys who can field and run but can't hit the ball 450 ft. that they can latch on to a club by doing the genius level thing of hitting to the opposite field and running really fast.  

The "strikeout or HR" thing is what "casual fans" want. They want to see each AB as the equivalent of an all-in poker hand.

Real pitch clock will never happen.  The union's too strong.  The slow-working pitchers say that change would put them out of work.

But ban the whole "Rays strategy" of using 10 pitchers for 2-3 outs each as an affront to all that is right and holy, and I'm all over that.  Whatever it takes.

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I hope the bullpenning issue may work itself out for most clubs.  It doesn't work that well in the playoffs.  Teams who use it will always be at a disadvantage when they go up against a team with a good starting rotation.  The Rays do it out of necessity because of their payroll situation so they may not voluntarily quit doing it, but the Yankees don't have that same constraint and I bet they are going to get some better starters.

Edited by kevwun

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1 minute ago, kevwun said:

Are you some kind of communist? 

I listened to rage against the machine as a kid, so maybe

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1 hour ago, TexArcher said:

No, no, no.

If the team in the field wants to use a pitcher and put the other 8 guys in a circle around 2nd base, or in any other configuration, that's their prerogative.

A better solution is to teach bat-to-ball skills, including bunting, again.  Pure hitters would bat .500 against the shift.  Hell, Henry Aaron would bat 1.000 on bunt singles.  It's embarrassing that so many professional hitters can't beat the shift.  You don't make a rule to prevent it; you make hitters work on their craft to force teams to stop using it.

Analytics says that’s an entirely wrong approach. Hence the reason virtually no one tries to beat the shift. Either homer over the shift, walk, or strikeout trying. Makes the game more boring but sabermetrically that’s all a better alternative to putting the ball in play in hopes of a measly single. 
 

Bill James ruined baseball.

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18 hours ago, Surly Bevo said:

Reorganization of leagues aside.

 

1. Harden the pitch clock with a ball/strike penalty for the party that breaks it. 

2. Outlaw the shift so more balls go in play.  

3.  Hard limits on mound visits from anybody (looking at you catchers....a QB doesn't get to stop the play and make sure he and the WR are on the same page about what is called...practice that shit and be better)

 

Basically speed up the game and make some attempt to eliminate the predictable nuclear warfare it has become of strikeouts, and home runs.

Agree with #1. Fuck the batters who wait until the last fucking moment and call time.  Pitchers could use a little more Wade Miley in them too.  Get on with it already...

Completely disagree with #2.

Learn how to fucking hit and make the other team pay for their shenanigans.  It's far from automatic that the shift is going to work.

 

Agree with #3.  it's ridiculous. Quit being fucking scared and prepare like a pro.

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25 minutes ago, Helobious said:

Analytics says that’s an entirely wrong approach. Hence the reason virtually no one tries to beat the shift. Either homer over the shift, walk, or strikeout trying. Makes the game more boring but sabermetrically that’s all a better alternative to putting the ball in play in hopes of a measly single. 
 

Bill James ruined baseball.

Bullshit.  Bunting against the shift should be 90+% for a base hit.  Putting a guy on first does at least two things: it forces the pitcher into the stretch and forces the infielders into normal double play alignment.  Don't want to hit against the shift?  Put a guy on first.  Want to send three guys up there to swing for the fence?  Do it with a guy on first and none out.

I'm not saying you're wrong about the analytics; I'm saying analytics is an evolving thing, and managers/statheads will catch on to this.  What percentage of pitchers are as effective from the stretch?  How many baserunner advancements are being missed on WP/PB because there's no one on first?  How many two-out doubles end up being worthless when they could have plated a run?  Etc.

Edited by TexArcher

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1 hour ago, housious said:

If we're going to eliminate something, how about 75 or so games from the regular season?

What sort of crack are you on?

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2 hours ago, Beau Vine said:

Say what???

Sugar Land owners wanted to be an affiliate, Astros did not want one in the Houston area, hence SL being an Indy.  

Probably because somebody spending money to watch an affiliate club in the suburbs is not spending that money on tickets to the Astros.   Or it does nothing for expanding the footprint of the Astros brand.  Or both.   

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5 hours ago, TexArcher said:

No, no, no.

If the team in the field wants to use a pitcher and put the other 8 guys in a circle around 2nd base, or in any other configuration, that's their prerogative.

A better solution is to teach bat-to-ball skills, including bunting, again.  Pure hitters would bat .500 against the shift.  Hell, Henry Aaron would bat 1.000 on bunt singles.  It's embarrassing that so many professional hitters can't beat the shift.  You don't make a rule to prevent it; you make hitters work on their craft to force teams to stop using it.

This, this, and this....

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1 hour ago, atomheartbevo said:

Sugar Land owners wanted to be an affiliate, Astros did not want one in the Houston area, hence SL being an Indy.  

Probably because somebody spending money to watch an affiliate club in the suburbs is not spending that money on tickets to the Astros.   Or it does nothing for expanding the footprint of the Astros brand.  Or both.   

Thanks.  

The Astros not wanting one in Houston is a whole lot different than "MLB not wanting a club in the Houston area."  The Rangers have an affiliate in Frisco; the Mariners have long had an affiliate in Tacoma.  

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Except that Crane originally said he wanted an affiliate in the Woodlands before he brought Round Rock back into the system.

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1) DL in both leagues

2) automated zone

3) wild card game should be a 3 game series

4) I wouldn't mind a (slightly) shorter season

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Dick Lugar, a former Senator from Indiana.  bschoolprof didn't realize he died back in April.

Even if he were alive, I'm not sure what an elderly man in his 80s could have contributed to both leagues.

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3 hours ago, Beau Vine said:

Thanks.  

The Astros not wanting one in Houston is a whole lot different than "MLB not wanting a club in the Houston area."  The Rangers have an affiliate in Frisco; the Mariners have long had an affiliate in Tacoma.  

The Yankees have a Low A team in Staten Island. All the way across the city from the Bronx but still. Ownership has said they like the idea of giving minor leaguers a taste of what it’s like to play in NYC, before some of them play there in the bigs one day.

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56 minutes ago, Helobious said:

The Yankees have a Low A team in Staten Island. All the way across the city from the Bronx but still. Ownership has said they like the idea of giving minor leaguers a taste of what it’s like to play in NYC, before some of them play there in the bigs one day.

Yeah, MLB does not keep any minor league team out any area.  MLB basically defines markets which gives existing franchises the right to veto new franchises.  The reason there is not a an affiliated minor league franchise in the Houston area is that the Astros must have objected.  

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I think the reason there isn't an Astros affiliate somewhere in the burbs is because having AAA and AA in RR and CC helps extend the brand to south and central texas.  There's not munch market share to gain in Sugarland or the Woodlands.  

Edited by WBT

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The Astros have to give approval for any MLB affiliated team in the Greater Houston area. Sugar Land knew this, ended up in an independent league and will never be a MLB affiliate unless the Astros OK it. 

The Astros own the Ashville and Coprus Christi teams, I doubt those are going anywhere. 

Edited by tx 3 putt

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13 hours ago, tx 3 putt said:

The Astros have to give approval for any MLB affiliated team in the Greater Houston area. Sugar Land knew this, ended up in an independent league and will never be a MLB affiliate unless the Astros OK it. 

Like I said, there is no way Sugar Land (and St. Paul) were mentioned in the proposal, unless MLB and the relevant parties have already had some kind of discussion about them. MLB can be fuckups, but there's no way the lawyers let that proposal out and it was a surprise to the Astros and Sugar Land.

Sugar Land does nothing for spreading the brand, as mentioned upstream (of course you could argue that about plenty of affiliate teams, particularly those in distant states).  But they have money and facilities.

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The “expanding the brand” through minor league teams thing is so overblown. I live in San Antonio, I’ve never met one Brewers fan here even though the Missions are the Triple A team. Same thing when the Padres had them.

Edited by Helobious

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On 10/20/2019 at 11:23 PM, troph said:

There should never be a clock in baseball. None whatsoever.

How do you feel about 12-to-6 curve balls?

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21 hours ago, Helobious said:

The “expanding the brand” through minor league teams thing is so overblown. I live in San Antonio, I’ve never met one Brewers fan here even though the Missions are the Triple A team. Same thing when the Padres had them.

I think you're right in general but I think in the Astros specific case it has probably helped as they have recovered from Drayton cratering the team at the end of his ownership.  Historically, the Astros have been the team of central and south Texas and Louisiana.  As they got shitty at the same time the Rangers went to back to back WS, a lot of bandwagon jumpers jumped.  As the roles have reversed, I think having Corpus and taking over Round Rock has helped bring some people back home.

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As someone who has a double A minor league team in town with a cross country affiliation (seriously, our parent club is a solid 4+ hour direct flight away after a 2 hour drive to the airport) that draws in the low hundreds every night, it all makes sense to me. We drew big numbers with a regional affiliation and they dropped considerably when it was switched out. The stadium is old on top of that.

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On 10/22/2019 at 1:32 PM, Helobious said:

The “expanding the brand” through minor league teams thing is so overblown. I live in San Antonio, I’ve never met one Brewers fan here even though the Missions are the Triple A team. Same thing when the Padres had them.

Not sure if same thing, but here in Amarillo, I do see/ talk to Padres fans at the AA games here.

I also prefer to go when the Hooks are in town so i can watch Astros prospects.

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