Affiliation Roulette: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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My favorite web site lists and twitter follows went through a small change this week. The Cubs however, went through a massive undertaking in restructuring the teams in the minor league system. Gone are the Cubs, Cougars, and Hawks, and in are the Pelicans, Silver Hawks (for 6 more days), and the Emeralds. I made the appropriate adjustments in my browser, Facebook, and most importantly, my Twitter feed. But for the organization, their change of direction in player development was just for that, player development. It was, for lack of a better phrase, a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

High Class A: Daytona to Myrtle Beach
The Good: Fewer Rainouts
The Bad: Still a pitcher’s league
The Ugly: 22 seasons in Daytona down the tube
This move came about strictly on the weather. As a result of the rainouts, several doubleheaders were scheduled. Rather than play two nine inning games, in the minors they play two seven inning games. That’s a lot of missed at bats and innings not pitched. While the Florida State League is a pitcher’s league, the Carolina League is also a pitcher’s league but nowhere near the hitter’s league of the California League. Despite that, Theo Epstein declared it to be the highest of the High Class A Leagues.

Low Class A: Kane County to South Bend
The Good: Player Development Facilities
The Bad: Only 12 games west of Indiana
The Ugly: My prospect watching in person has now gone to ….

This one hurt me the most. Being only a little over an hour away, it was nothing for me to hop, skip, and jump through the corn to get there and have great seats while doing so. I know it will be in the best interest of the players and their long term development. However, South Bend is three hours away. Next year, South Bend will only play twelve games against Western Division teams in Beloit, Peoria, Appleton, and Burlington. I think the Burlington games might work out as my parents live only a half an hour away from Burlington, Iowa. Peoria is about an hour and a half away and Beloit is about 40 minutes. It will take some figuring out when I see a schedule. In 2016, South Bend goes to Kane County, Clinton, Cedar Rapids and he Quad Cities. Theo said, “Sometimes you have to the bad guy.” In this case, I don’t feel that way…completely…yet.

Right next to the stadium is a player development facility owned by the team that includes six hitting and pitching tunnels in addition to weight and training rooms along with video development. Theo said,

“One area where we don’t mess around is in player development. Our success will be impacted in large part by how well we develop our young players.”

These facilities are top notch and lacking in Geneva. I found this move a good one from a development standpoint, but I also found it especially odd considering the team just won 98 games a Midwest League Championship a few days before the change was made.

Short Season A: Boise to Eugene
The Good: Player Development Facilities
The Bad: No more Mike Safford
The Ugly: Uniforms

One of my highlights of this summer was listening to the Boise Hawks radio broadcasts with Mike Safford. Initially I tuned in to hear Kyle Schwarber’s at bats and then I could not stop even after Schwarber went to Kane County. If there had been TV, I don’t know how I would have handled seeing the Boise Hawk uniforms. But then again, I caught a glimpse of Eugene’s uniforms. They are not much different. But I digress. The key to the Eugene move is also player development. The players will have access to the facilities at the University of Oregon put in by Nike. That is exciting!

The Big League Club
The Good: Kris Bryant, Jen-Ho Tseng, Jorge Soler, and Kyle Hendricks
The Bad: Javy Baez
The Ugly: Edwin Jackson and Rick Renteria’s Game Management

Kris Bryant and Jen-Ho Tseng were named organizational players of the year this week by the Cubs. Both players got the red carpet treatment at Wrigley this week as they accepted their awards. In addition, Jorge Soler and Kyle Hendricks both continued their great previews and first run through the major leagues.

Javy Baez continues to strike out at a ridiculous pace. I cannot wait until spring training when he begins to make adjustments to his game and starts fresh in 2015.

I cannot wait until Edwin Jackson is gone. Maybe the team can dump him this winter and take a flyer on a contract worth similar dollars, preferably a hitter. As for Renteria, his predilections for bunting and using Grimm, Ramirez, and Schlitter in every possible game is upsetting and his hard to swallow this September. I understand he is a great with the young players and bringing out the best in them, but he can’t manage during the game.

P.S. – Jake Arrieta Rules!!!

Next Post – The 2015 Roster and an Off-Season To Do List


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