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"Despicable" Plan and Tactics Bring MiLB under MLB's Total Control

by Paul Reeths
November 9, 2020 - Atlantic League (AtL) - Somerset Patriots

Over the weekend, the New York Yankees gave us the first glimpse into Major League Baseball's grand plan to reorganize Minor League Baseball. While rumors of the changes have echoed through minor league cities for months, MLB fittingly let the Evil Empire provide confirmation of the sweeping changes it is now unveiling.

Gone will be 40 affiliated Minor League Baseball teams in communities across the country. The doomed organizations will be converted into college wood bat teams, offered the opportunity to join the independent leagues or simply euthanized all together. The Yankees are cutting down from 10 to six affiliated teams.

The paring allows Major League Baseball to save relative pennies by reducing the number of minor leaguers it has to pay. Alerted to the rise of college wood bat leagues, the Majors will instead lean on a "Prospect Development Pipeline" to avoid paying the college seniors it normally would have drafted each June. Instead, young players will continue to play for free in MLB-monitored and controlled wood bat leagues. The historic Appalachian League will be converted to such a circuit this season.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that the independent leagues, weakened by losses from the coronavirus pandemic, have signed on as Major League Baseball's willing accomplices in this reorganization. The aura of an association with the big leagues, along with having their player and coach costs covered by MLB, proved too much temptation to resist for the Atlantic League's Somerset Patriots, which will now serve as the Yankees' affiliated AA franchise.

Ignored by MLB save for an occasional player transfer, the (allegedly) independent Atlantic League, American Association and Frontier League recently unveiled deals making them MLB's "Partner Leagues." Somerset's departure shows what Major League Baseball will take from its partners: the cream of indy league teams and facilities.

Have the indy leagues sold their souls for the perceived stability provided by a link with the Majors? What they should reasonably expect in return are abandoned, angry minor league markets. That doesn't seem like a fair trade.

And how does MLB treat its partners? Ask the Staten Island Yankees, located in the dead center of the New York Yankees' home market. Staten Island has served as New York's short-season A affiliate for 22 years.

"The Staten Island Yankees made every effort to accommodate MLB and New York Yankees requirements, including securing a commitment from New York City for ballpark upgrades," the team said in a statement "However, MLB and the Yankees chose not to engage in any discussions with us. We were unaware of the final decision and learned about it by reading the statement on Yankees social media."

Similarly, the Trenton Thunder has been the Yankees' AA affiliate for 18 years.

"Despite repeated assurances that the Thunder would remain its Double-A affiliate over the last 16 months, the Yankees betrayed their partnership at the 11th hour," Trenton Thunder owner Joseph Plumeri said Saturday. "By doing so, the Yankees have misled and abandoned the Thunder and the taxpayers of Mercer County, who have invested millions of dollars over the years to ensure that Arm & Hammer Park remains one of the premier ballparks in America."

"The Yankees' actions are nothing short of despicable," Plumeri added.

And what of the "Save Minor League Baseball Task Force," the bi-artisan Congressional effort to save the endangered minor league markets and the millions they have invested in facilities? It appears it was about as effective as the "Mayors' Task Force" with the same aims.

After all the tough talk by people such as Bernie Sanders, if any politicians are still paying attention, they're doing a good job hiding it.

Under the cover of the coronavirus pandemic, Major League Baseball is doing exactly what it wants to the Minor Leagues.

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Atlantic League Stories from November 9, 2020

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