For those who don’t follow minor-league baseball… affiliation agreements between Major League Baseball teams and their minor affiliates expire after even-numbered seasons. Now, not all 30 expire every two years, but after the 2008 season, a number of AAA teams will be, officially, free agents. What are the odds that any of them will be Richmond’s savior?
Arizona – Tucson (Pacific Coast) — The Tucson franchise is moving to Reno in 2009 with the blessings of the parent club. They won’t switch to the East Coast.
Cleveland – Buffalo (International) — It’s unlikely that Cleveland will move from Buffalo, it’s too geographically convenient.
Colorado – Colorado Springs (PCL) — Same argument.
Florida – Albuquerque (PCL) — Florida *hates* being in the PCL. They might look with some interest at bringing their affiliation to the East Coast. Might be worth keeping an eye on.
Houston – Round Rock (PCL) — Nolan Ryan owns Round Rock. ‘Nuff said.
LA Dodgers – Las Vegas (PCL) — Geographically solid for LA.
Minnesota – Rochester (IL) — Minnesota got stuck in Rochester two years ago. One wonders if they might look this way.
NY Mets – New Orleans (PCL) — The Mets kept their affiliate in Virginia for decades (Tidewater/Norfolk). They were stuck with New Orleans two years ago… they might be interested.
Philadephia – Lehigh Valley (IL) — Nope. Philly just moved the franchise from Ottawa to Allentown, they are NOT giving it up.
Pittsburgh – Indianapolis (IL) — Not likely, it’s a good enough fit for the Pirates.
San Francisco – Fresno (PCL) — Umm… no.
Seattle – Tacoma (PCL) — Umm… no.
St. Louis – Memphis (PCL) — Umm… no (there’s a pattern here).
Tampa – Durham (IL) — If Tampa hasn’t moved this franchise to Orlando, they’re not moving it anywhere else.
Toronto – Syracuse (IL) — They’ve had problems over the years, but it’s a good geographic fit so Toronto will try to keep this one.
Washington – Columbus (IL) — And, finally, the dream. The Orioles are in Norfolk. So both for the rivalry, and the I-95 connection to the mothership, this is the one Richmonders are praying for. However… Columbus is building a new stadium, and you have to wonder if they have some kind of deal with the Nats.
Keep in mind, too, that the leagues have to be kept intact — so while the Mets and Marlins might want to come to Richmond, they’d have to be replaced in the PCL (or another PCL club would have to jump to the IL, which is NOT likely). The Nats or Twins would be freer to bring their farm club to Richmond.
One other thing to keep in mind. Nobody will bring a team to the crumbling relic that is the Diamond. It will require an agreement for, and groundbreaking on, a new ballpark before anyone will bring a AAA club to Richmond. So in reality, while there might be clubs willing to come to Richmond — is there anyone here to welcome them?