Yankees, Mets Head International Excursions
Latin America and Japan have become hotbeds for baseball talent. As more and more teams explore opening baseball facilities in foreign countries that are already know for their baseball talent, a few teams are breaking new ground in places they hope to find talent to stock their teams.
The New York Yankees announced last week that they’ll be sending some top front office personnel to China. Yankees president Randy Levine and general manager Brian Cashman will be heading overseas to both promote the Yankees brand as well as explore the possibility of opening a baseball academy in China.
Not to be outdone by the Yankees, New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya is leading a contingent that will head to Ghana in West Africa. He’ll be taking some big names with him as well; Dave Winfield, Bob Watson, Dusty Baker, Reggie Smith and Dave Stewart will all be going with him. The plan is to donate some baseball equipment, do a survey of the land so they can look at building some baseball fields and hopefully set up a four-team little league. Minaya was impressed with Ghana’s performance at the soccer World Cup, and he’s hoping to harness some of that athleticism and hopefully turn it into baseball talent.
Blue Jays Add Gulf Coast League
The Toronto Blue Jays added a sixth affiliate when they joined the Gulf Coast League just months after they abandoned their team in the shrinking Appalachian League. There was a lot of speculation as to how the Blue Jays would manage their franchise with just five affiliates, but it looks like they answered the question by just switching venues. The minor league team will play at the Blue Jays’ Spring Training facility in Dunedin, FL.
The Appalachian League still hasn’t figured out what, if anything, it will do with only nine teams. It’s definitely going to make scheduling difficult with one team off at all times, but the idea of having a team of non-drafted players fell through when the nine teams in the league decided they didn’t want to pay for it.
Lack of Public Transportation Near New Stadium Doesn’t Deter A’s Owner
The Oakland Athletics are wrapping up their traffic and parking plan for their prospective ball park in Fremont, CA. At a private luncheon, Athletics’ owner Lew Wolff didn’t provide details, but he did offer assurances that the traffic issues would be handled. One particular concern was that the area’s public transportation system, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), had its closest station four miles from the ballpark’s planned site. Wolff seemed to think that this wouldn’t be an issue because most people would drive to the ballpark anyway.
Former Cardinals GM Bing Devine Passes
Bing Devine, the architect of the World Series champion 1964 and 1968 Cardinals, passed away last week at the age of 90. His best deal is also probably one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history: in a six-player deal in June 1964, he aquired Lou Brock for practically nothing. He was also credited with bringing Bob Gibson, Curt Flood and Dick Groat into the fold that resulted in two World Series win for the Cardinals.
MLB, DirecTV Closer to Fruition
Maury Brown at Bizofbaseball.com recently unveiled some additional details on the deal between MLB and DirecTV that will make the satellite television company the exclusive distributor for the Extra Innings package. One thing I found interesting was that the deal might include both Arizona Fall League games as well as minor league games. That would be particularly appealing to a baseball enthusiast.
Of course there’s still a lot of people who will be shut out of the Extra Innings package, and this is addressed in a great column by Richard Sandomir at The New York Times.
Tigers Stick With Toledo Through 2010
I touched on this at Tigerblog, but the Tigers extended their agreement to keep the Toledo Mud Hens as the team’s Triple-A affiliate. Toledo has been the Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate since 1987, and the Tigers now have an agreement with all but one of their minor league affliates through 2010. Only their Double-A affiliate, the Erie Seawolves, is not locked up as long; the Seawolves’ agreement extends through 2008.
Royals Take Stadium Renovation to Whole New Level
The Kansas City Royals are looking to install a new high tech video coaching system that will run close to $1 million. While this isn’t too surprising (most of the other major league teams already have one) what is a surprise is that the Royals want this to fall under the $250 million in stadium renovations that the county is paying for. Give the Royals some credit. By eliminating some cameras and other items, they were able to get the price tag down from $1.2 million to $900,000. It sounds like some people are up in arms while some people really don’t care.