Archive for August 1st, 2008

California Earthquake: Teams On The Move

According to a recent article in Baseball America, the High-A California League might be losing a couple of teams. And their loss will be the Carolina League’s gain.

The franchises in question are the Bakersfield Blaze (Rangers) and the High Desert Mavericks (Mariners). Both teams play in antiquated ballparks and struggle to draw enough fans. The article suggests that the Braves’ decision to pull their AAA affiliate out of Richmond might have provided the perfect opening for the transcontinental migration.

Richmond is the hot market available in the minor leagues, with plans for the Braves and the International League to release the territory when the R-Braves move to Gwinnett County in surburban Atlanta. One source said High Desert had the inside track to moving to Richmond, and that Bakersfield would end up in Fayetteville, N.C.; another source said more markets within the Carolina League footprint were under consideration.

“Nothing is set in stone, but do I think it is going to happen? Yes, I think it is going to happen,” one source said. “And I think it should happen.”

[Baseball America]

Further complicating matters for the California League is the decision by the Red Sox to move their high-A club from the geographically nonsensical Lancaster outpost of the California League to the slightly more distant, but less travel-intensive Salem, VA market in the Carolina League.

Some sources say that the league already has a deal in principle, which MiLB denies. The Carolina League bylaws stipulate a $1.5 million payment for each club that wishes to enter what is currently an eight-team league with a tight geographical locus.

As a resident of central Virginia, all of this sounds good to me, though I can’t imagine that a single-A franchise is the long-term solution in Richmond. I do feel bad for the California League, but the refusal of some localities to upgrade facilities is the sort of thing that MiLB just won’t abide any more. The Bus Leagues are getting tonier by the minute.

The Minor Links

Have you read a great story about minor league baseball recently? Share it with us at and it may be included in our weekly links post.

Umpbump’s Sarah Green recently embarked on the type of mid-summer road trip that makes devoted family men like Extra P and myself extremely jealous: a multi-city tour of minor league ballparks. She’s filed a number of reports with the home office already; you can check them out here, here, here, here, and here.

“My career is still going strong,” he said. “At first it surprised me, but not anymore. I have a lot of fans and people seem to like my singing. So I’ll keep doing it for awhile, I guess.” Those words were spoken by William Hung. He has a career and I don’t. Pardon me for a moment – I need to go jump off a bridge. (Deadspin)

The Harlingen WhiteWings are putting humanity above dollars and cents, opening their gates for the remaineder of the season in the wake of Hurricane Dolly (ESPN)

Phillipe Aumont, one of Seattle’s top pitching prospects, has been on the disabled list for over a month with a sore elbow. The gentlemen at Driveline Mechanics are not surprised.

Biggest bust among first overall draft picks? Matthew Bush will probably be there someday, but I’m gonna take Steve Chilcott for the time being until we see how everything plays out. Brien Taylor had all th talent in the world before injuring his shoulder in a bar fight, which I think removes him from the “Biggest Bust” conversation (The Big Lead)