A bumpy relationship with Scranton

Resting the starting pitchers
Open Thread: This and that

swb_90x90 Prior to the start of the 2007 season, the Yankees moved their AAA operations from Columbus to Scranton. The Pennsylvania-based home of The Office allowed the Yanks to keep a closer eye on their top Minor League affiliate. Scranton is, after all, nearly 500 miles closer to New York than Columbus is.

The first few seasons were prosperous ones. The team’s new ownership group promised a new stadium and economic development for the town, and everyone loved seeing the Yankees. This year, though, things have changed for the worse. Attendance in the economically-depressed town has crashed, and the field at Lackawanna County Stadium has been plagued by flooding.

In Baseball America this week, Will Lingo looks at the uneasy relationship between the Yankees and Scranton (subscriber only). The team is committed to Scranton through 2010, but according to Lingo, the Yanks could look elsewhere when the current player development contract is up.

He writes of a slate of bad news for the Yanks and Scranton. The plans for a new ballpark lost political support and then economic support. Meanwhile, engineering studies suggested $13 million in repairs for the current park, and upgrades could be a few years away.

The Yankees, meanwhile, are mum on their plans. “Our plans are, we love the Scranton area,” Lonn Trost said. “The intent was hopefully a stadium will be built, we just haven’t gotten to it. We understand that things have changed, and we’re monitoring that situation, but we have all intentions of staying.”

In the end, the Yanks’ options are few. Only Rochester, Syracuse, and Lehigh Valley are remotely close to New York, and those cities come with their own problems. Scranton may be the best option among struggling International League cities.

(Hat tip to WasWatching for first noticing this story.)

Resting the starting pitchers
Open Thread: This and that
  • Tom Zig

    How about the Yanks give the LI Ducks the boot? They have a very nice stadium, and its a lot closer to the Bronx than Scranton.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      Bridgeport Bluefish!

      • Tom Zig

        If I were still in college (fairfield), I would have said them. But LI Ducks is way closer to my current school than the B-port Bluefish.

      • Johan Iz My Brohan

        +1 Bluefish!

    • jsbrendog

      they’re independent league not affiliated with any major league team..not sure what that means but just sayin

      • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

        Buy their asses out!

  • jsbrendog

    you have to go somewhere where there’s a stadium already i guess huh? i was gonna say what about the good ol hudson valley renegades? even tho theyre like low a ball i think or something…

    how does all that minor league stuff work. like, when the yankees ditched columbus, did they just take all their players/staff/etc and just put them in new unis at a new park? it is crazy to me

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      I think that’s what they did ’cause the Clippers are now a Natinals farm team, I believe, and the Phillies left Scranton for Lehigh Valley.

      • J.R.

        So its kinda like Musical chairs?

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          I guess?

      • JMK

        I think they’re an affiliate of the Indians.

        • JMK

          Columbus, that is.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Correct. The Nats AAA team is the Syracuse Cheifs.

            Hey… Syracuse to NY, Scranton to DC… I think I see a trade potential.

            • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

              they’re either the Chefs (not going anywhere for a while?) or the i before e rule comes into play…

              thats like the no o after i rule…

  • Sam

    Considering they’re much closer to NYC than Scranton is, what about promoting Trenton to AAA? Is that possible?

    • JMK

      That would make the most sense. I have no idea if it’s possible. It would be nice to know the rules of minor league stadium rights, transfers, etc,.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Or, what about the Newark Bears from Indy ball?

        They’ve got a great stadium, by the looks of it.

        http://www.keanathletics.com/NCAA/baseball2008/Logos/Stadium_2_-_web.jpg

        • JMK

          I like that idea too. It would be really convenient for most of the metro area. I’m in Bergen County, NJ so that and Hoboken would be the best for me.

          How about a park in the middle of Central Park???!!!!

          • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

            Central Park? They’re going to turn it into an airport first. Too late, my friend.

            • JMK

              That is the worst idea. Luckily I don’t think it will ever happen.

              • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

                …i think that’s a joke.

                either that, or they bought the FAA, cause you can’t fit an airport there that lands, you know, planes.

                i’m not good at internet memes, but i’m pretty sure that’s a joke.

            • wilcymoore

              Hey that’s great – I had never heard of the Manhattan Airport Foundation! Now that”s one idea sure to get “off the ground.”

              Heh heh …

        • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Yeah that would be awesome. Very accessible from the city, too. Good call.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            THAT IS HOW YOU DEBATE!!!

      • Chris G

        From what I remember when living in Austin. When Nolan Ryan bought and moved New Orleans (AAA) to Round Rock and Round Rock (AA) to Corpus Christi, there were some stadium size requirements at both cities but that was it. There may have been an PCL and Texas League process but it was a formality.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    As long as whomever replaces the Scranton Yankees does not have the name “Yankees” in it, I’ll be happy.

    Having your minor league teams named for you is tres-boring. What are we, the unimaginative Atlanta Braves?

    • Jersey

      I’ve always been somewhat partial to the way they do it European football soccer conventions. Just name it Scranton or Scranton BC (for baseball club), and let the fans provide a nickname that sticks.

      • Jersey

        Pfff. Left out a tag. Should read:

        I’ve always been somewhat partial to the way they do it in European football soccer convention. Just name it Scranton or Scranton BC (for baseball club), and let the fans provide a nickname that sticks.

  • JSquared

    Yes, come to Long Island!!

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Why the hell is there no baseball stadium in Hartford, CT, anymore?

    http://www.ballparkreviews.com/hartford/hartford.htm

    That’s dumb. Hartford would be the perfect place for an AAA affiliate.

    Maybe we can take the New Britain Rock Cats from the Twins. But there’s probably policies preventing AAA teams and AA teams from switching or something dumb.

    • Mattingly’s Love Child

      When I win powerball this weekend, I will start the process of starting a AAA team in Hartford, with intention of it being a Yankee AAA team. They have this whole new development down on the waterfront in Hartford, but it needs a cornerstone. Something like a ballpark…

      Just gotta get the funding first….

    • Chris G

      Hartford was one of the founding NL cities. Hartford Dark Blues rise again. http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/HAR/

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    We could bring back the New Haven Ravens. That would be pretty cool.

    http://www.instantreplaysportcard.com/items/01minors/new%20haven%20photo.jpg

    • JMK

      Why are you so big on Connecticut?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Geography.

        • JMK

          Conn. definitely makes sense geographically, but so do NJ, NY, maybe even more so. CitiBank Park of the LI Ducks would be a fantastic place, although they might need to add about 4,000 seats +. Promoting Trenton to AAA makes more sense geographically, as well. Even an addition on Dutchess Stadium of the Renegades could work. A new park near the Meadowlands might be an idea. Still, I think Hartford makes perfect sense. They could be called the Hartford Yankee Whalers.

          Do you have any idea what the rules, regulations on affiliate stadiums are? I’d really like to find out. Besides, TSJC, you seem to know everything.

      • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

        Because the closest thing we have to pro sports is the UConn basketball team (everyone drink).

        • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          There are always rumblings about bringing the NHL back to Hartford. Keep the dream alive. (The NHL really should go back to Hartford, btw.)

          • Mattingly’s Love Child

            The NHL really should go back to Hartford, btw.

            Hellz friggin yes. The NHL is dead to me until there is a team there. How can there be friggin teams in Phoenix, Tampa, Nashville, and not Hartford? They actually play hockey in CT.

            • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

              hockey fans from north AND south carolina say thanks, btw.

        • Mattingly’s Love Child

          I guess since it’s Thursday, I can start drinking for you Matty.

          Seriously though, if I ever won a substantial sum of money, or made alot (the small marketing company I work at would have to grow QUITE a bit for it to be from my job), I’d be the first in line to try to bring AAA baseball to Hartford, New England’s Rising Star.

          It seems like a great business possibility for a rich person that doesn’t know what to do with their money!

        • Datman, fighter of the Nightman

          Connecticut is and always will be the bargaining tool for New York and Mass. teams to extort public money for their stadiums. Remember the Patriots?

          • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Yeah, but that’s kinda over now, isn’t it? I mean, who’s left to threaten to move to CT? The Islanders (and they’re using KC as their tool, not CT)? Everyone else is spoken for at this point.

            • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              Also – As far as I can remember, the Pats are the only NY or MA team to use Hartford as a negotiating tool. Not like it’s been a common occurrence.

              • Mattingly’s Love Child

                It was the only occurrence that I remember, and I lived in CT for 24 years.

                CT was ready to fix up the Civic Center for the Whalers but Karmanos desperately wanted to move to NC and Bettman thought it was a good move…..

  • Kyle

    ROCHESTER!

    That way I can go see them a lot!:)

    • Accent Shallow

      Ick.

    • The Lodge

      Frontier Field IS really nice, but the Flour City is quite the haul from Metro nyc.

      Do they still have the MLS Rhinos playing on/trashing that field though?

      • johnny

        nope, they wonderful taxpayers of rochester built a beutiful stadium for an A league soccer team theat not only can they not fill, but even the solvency of the team meant to play there is in doubt.

        I second that though. having been there many times as well as many other minor league parks, I can say it is a top flight facility, that actually does get routinely filled, but therein lies the problem. the twins and their excellent farm system have provided such a relief from the orioles late 90’s ignorance that there is almost no chance of a switch even for the yankees, because now there are real prospects coming through all the time.

        in the three years between the twins moving in and me moving out, here is a most likely incomplete list of players I saw at frontier:
        morneau
        mauer
        liriano
        bartlett
        garza
        garret jones
        denard span
        jesse crain
        joe nathan
        cuddyer
        kubel
        and boof bonser(not a great talent, but his name is boof for fucks sake)
        also saw clay bucholz get lit up as a pawsox…and said some really awful things about his female relatives.

  • Tony

    I have no idea how any of this works. It seems like Lonn Trost doesn’t either. “We haven’t gotten around to it,” really? REALLY?

  • Nigel Incubator-Jones

    Is this why I can’t buy a SWB hat in my size?

    But you can buy this

    • JMK

      Heh. A little over-priced but not a bad item.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      That’s f$%&ing disgusting.

      … and at the same, time, who can pass up a SALE, SON, IT’S FOUR DOLLARS! Of course I did it. That’s only 16 quarters.

      I’ll break a five for that.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uG-dfV90dQs (NSFW-profanity)

    • http://votepaulformayor.blogspot.com jsbrendog

      this entertained me. ha

      • Mattingly’s Love Child

        Wait…you have a blog now?

  • Januz

    I think buying out the Ducks makes a ton of sense. Not only do you get an area close to the Bronx, but you have the opportunity to steal fans from the Mets by getting fans attached to certain players (Heathcott comes to mind).

  • Salty Buggah
    • JMK

      That would be fucking awesome!

  • http://newstadiuminsider.com Ross

    The WasWatching did piece did FAR more excerpting than I am comfortable with.

  • thebusiness

    Hoboken would be ideal. Nice ascension from Trenton, to Hoboken, to NYS

  • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    This is totally speculative, but something that I’ve considered if/when I’ve thought about where the Yanks should have their minor league affiliates… While we’d all love for them to move the AAA team to Newark, or Hoboken, or Bridgeport, or any other relatively local city… I wonder if the Yanks might be a bit uneasy about having their highest-level minor league club so close to NYC and, more importantly, the NYC media. Obviously the Yanks shouldn’t make personnel decisions based at all on media pressure, but I’m sure it would make their lives at least a little more difficult if every time a player at AAA went on a hot-streak they had the likes of Francesa and Lupica and King crying about how that player should immediately be inserted into the Yankees’ starting lineup.

    Again… Just a thought. I think maybe it’s best if the AAA affiliate isn’t as close to NYC as we, as fans who follow the minor league affiliates, might want them to be.

    • Mattingly’s Love Child

      Not a bad thought. 10 years ago, you might be right. But in this information age, it won’t be long before the Yankees get those media pressures no matter if the AAA team plays in China. More and more fans can easily follow the minor leagues, and as these fans voice their opinions with the MSM, the MSM will then keep a closer eye/ear on those things and bring them up with the organization.

      • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        I hear you, but I still think it would make a huge difference. We, the kind of fan who are reading/commenting on a site like RAB, already follow the minor league affiliates whether they’re close to NYC or not… But I have a hunch that if they plunked a AAA team down in Hoboken, or close to the towns in Fairfield County where a lot of the sports journalists live (so they’re opening up their Sunday paper in Stamford and New Canaan and seeing AAA Bridgeport Bombers scores), the local media and fans who don’t follow the minors would suddenly get a LOT more interested, in a mostly superficial and uninformed way. All of a sudden I bet Francesa wouldn’t just know Jason Hirsh exists but would be holding conversations on his show chock full of knee-jerk reactions from him and his callers.

        Whatever… I definitely hear your argument. Like I said, just a hunch, totally speculative.

        • Mattingly’s Love Child

          You make a good point. My hope is that over the next couple of years the fanbase continues to be more educated, and the new sportswriters would also be more fluent in modern statistical metrics and scouting.

          It may be a pipe dream. But if you just look at the constantly rising number of subscribers to blogs like this one, it hopefully will be indicative of an improvement like that.

        • thebusiness

          What the hell does Francesa’s rants have to do with actual baseball decisions?

          Here’s a hint:

    • Tom Zig

      I’m sure it would make their lives at least a little more difficult if every time a player at AAA went on a hot-streak they had the likes of Francesa and Lupica and King crying about how that player should immediately be inserted into the Yankees’ starting lineup

      How is that any different than the way things are today?

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Mike Francesa berated a called who brought up Jason Hirsh because he thought the caller was playing a joke on him, he didn’t know Jason Hirsh existed. It’s not like the MSM pays much attention to the minors.

  • Jonathan Kay

    This is ridiculous. The Yankees don’t want to pony up 13 million dollars for some stadium repairs when the city of NY just gave them over 1 billion dollars to build a stadium for rich people. I love the product that the Yankees put on the field and will contiune to purchase mlb.tv, but I do not think I will ever be able to give them my money again.

    • Mattingly’s Love Child

      The Yankees don’t own the team in Scranton. They own the rights to the Yankee name and to the players playing there. It would be a $13 million gift.

      This is actually why lots of teams were trying to purchase their own minor league teams. The crappy economy slowed that process down. I believe the Cardinals were trying to purchase their farm club in Memphis so that they could make changes and improvements as they wanted them.

  • David A

    Lets get the Bridgeport bluefish as the AAA team!

  • vin

    They need to swap with Toronto – and come here to Vegas. It’s a longer shuttle but at least I’d have a reason to go to the games.

  • Yages

    The field used to be artificial turf, but it went to grass after the Yanks moved in. The only problem is I don’t think they changed any of the drainage system from when it was turf, hence the constant flooding problems.

  • http://anewfrontier.wordpress.com Pablo Zevallos

    But…but…but…what about Chad Jennings?!?

  • Januz

    The Scranton issue was created when the Democrats came to power and stopped the Stadium improvements cold. It is part of a deeper issue in this country: The funding of sports facilities (Both on the professional and the collegiate level).

    • http://anewfrontier.wordpress.com Pablo Zevallos

      Remind me why taxpayers should loan/fund stadium constructions for multi-million dollar teams?

    • Mattingly’s Love Child

      Professional sports are private enterprise. For stadiums to be built with public money is wrong. If the teams want publicly financed facilities, they better be prepared to share their profits with the public. I’m pretty sure most professional teams do not run themselves like non-profits, and therefore they should have ample funds to share with the municipalities wherein they reside.

      • Januz

        The funniest thing about sports facilities is this. They are a much better investment than trying to build transportation facilities (See the Second Ave Subway and not only their overruns, but the effects on local business), Or projects such as the World Trade Center(I wish politicians were as “Outraged” over those white elephants as they are about Yankee Stadium). ps: The Metro-North Stadium was completed ON-TIME and ON-BUDGET (Talk about miracles). As for non-profit entities, I wonder if AIG and GM are included in the “Non-Profit” Catagory. You could build 75 Yankee Stadiums for the price of one AIG.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      The Scranton issue was created when the Democrats came to power and stopped the Stadium improvements cold.

      Those socialist/fascist Hitler-loving terrorist enabling bastards.

      LET’S GET ‘EM!

  • JSquared

    I say the yankees take a poll. They should find 4-5 suitors and ask their top minor leaguers where they want to play. It might not be the best thing to do, but Minor Leaguers want to know you care about them and where they play.

  • Pasqua

    When the Yanks moved to Scranton a couple of years ago, the field was converted from astro-turf to real grass. I believe (I might be wrong) that the Yankees ponied that bill. What they failed to do, of course, was upgrade the drainage system which has been the crux of the problems this season. This issue, in particular, might sour the Yanks on making a multi-million dollar contribution to improving the ballpark.

    I’m taking a group to Scranton on Sat. for part of a bachelor party. It’s never a good sign when you find yourself constantly checking the weather to make sure that there is not so much as a dark cloud over the stadium.

  • vinny-b

    it is funny, someone had initiated a thread asking which cities would be ideal for MLB expansion teams, and i listed:

    1) Hartford CT

    2) Portland Ore

    I don’t know much specifically regarding Hartford. However, CT (like NY) is baseball country. It seems like they would have much fan interest.

    as far as Scranton goes. It is a very lovely setting. Maybe NYY should simply make the best of it.

    by the way, some one had mentioned Dutchess Stadium (home of the Tampa rookie affiliate). This would be a picture perfect location for a AAA team. Nestled in the Hudson Highlands and right on I-84. And only 4 miles from my house : )

    • Accent Shallow

      Rob Neyer has been (semi-seriously) beating the Portland drum for a bit now.

      I’m not sure how viable Hartford is, since they’d have to cannibalize Yankees/Sox fans.

      I haven’t been to see the Renegades in awhile, and I wonder if the stadium is up to AAA standards?

      • vinny-b

        accent:

        like another person mentioned, the stadium would have to be expanded. However from my eye, it definitely look do-able along with parking.

      • Rick in Boston

        Portland would be nice, but there’s no way the Yankees move their affiliate to the PCL. Plus, there’s been a history of issues with the ballpark and poor attendance.

  • Rick in Boston

    A lot of the conversation here misses the key points about how/why minor league teams move and what would have to be the process.

    To get an independent team (LI/Bridgeport/etc.) to join the IL as a Yanks affiliate, the ownership of that team (or the Yankees if they want to go the Braves route and own all of their affiliates) must buy out the rights to the IL franchise from either Scranton or another struggling IL franchise. Additionally, there are rights/area fees to pay for the team to move into certain markets, whether it’s to MLB or another minor league team, there’s still money.

    Then, the facilities in the new city must meet certain requirements, including seating, not to mention the facilities for the players (i.e., batting cages/tunnels, clubhouses, dugouts). The team would then either need to hire or move a large number of front office staff – most AA and AAA teams have approx. 15-20 full-time plus interns/part time staff not including game-day only staff.

    IF the Yankees were to leave Scranton, I’m not sure if baseball would survive long term at the AAA level in Lackawanna county. They were rumored to move for a bit before the Yankees came in and made everyone happy. The Yankees aren’t happy with local politics since it’s the second time they’ve had big stadium issues with their AAA city (it happened in Columbus for years).

    Oh, and New Haven will never work as a baseball city. It’s been tried a bunch of times. I believe the Ravens were last in the Eastern League by a long ways in attendance.

  • Patch

    hmmm. i find this interesting.

    the yanks AAA leaves, right when Columbus decided to build a new stadium.

    That stadium now has the highest attendence in AAA and was voted best stadium, even with the team being the horrible AAA indians squad.

    may have been the wrong decision by management…

  • Pat D

    I live in the Lehigh Valley area of PA. There’s no city called Lehigh Valley, for those not in the know, as the post would make it seem. It’s just a broad term for the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton area. They just built the new park for the Phillies’ AAA team and they started playing there last year, so that’s not an option either, since I’d imagine that they have a multi-year agreement.

    I’ve never been to that park, because it’s the Phillies, after all, even though it’s located about 5 minutes from where I work. My co-workers who have been there tell me that it’s nice, so I’ll have to take their words for it.

    Maybe the Yankees should try and buy out the independent Somerset Patriots? Who knows. Personally, I’d prefer they stay in Scranton or move some place to Jersey. I wouldn’t want Syracuse, Rochester or Hartford.

  • monkeypants

    “Our plans are, we love the Scranton area,” Lonn Trost said.

    Since Lonn Trost is, as far as I can tell, a bold-faced liar, I can only interpret this to mean the Yankees are definitely moving their AAA affiliate from Scranton as soon as possible.

  • Steve

    Here’s my vision – The New Jersey Jackals of the Independent League. They play on the campus of Montclair State University. There are multiple highways nearby, ample parking and a public transportation system there (via NJ Transit) already. They play in a gorgeous ball park which happens to be named YOGI BERRA STADIUM, after the all-time great Yankee, Montclair resident and baseball enthusiast. It’s 40 minutes from Yankee Stadium, so the shuttle would be quick. Make this happen!

  • NYYROC

    Not sure how many more years the Red Wings are tied to Minnesota, but as someone who lives in Rochester I can tell you this is a NYY hotbed! The stadium we have is very nice. The team would draw very well. When SWB comes to town the crowd swells because so many NYY fans show up. I can’t imagine the excitement if the Yankees came to town!

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