Dodgers set to finalize all minor-league affiliates through 2016

Things are happening with the Dodgers’ minor-league affiliations. There are three organizations that extending their player development contracts with the Dodgers, while two levels are changing their affiliations.

The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and Great Lakes Loons announced this week that they were extending their agreement with the Dodgers through the 2016 season. The Ogden Raptors announced their extension on Sept. 1. I hadn’t heard of any rumblings that these three affiliates were in danger of losing the Dodgers, so this was no surprise. I have hard time seeing the Dodgers leaving Rancho anytime in the future, if ever.

I wrote a bit about the Triple-A team a few weeks ago when word first broke that the Dodgers might be leaving Albuquerque. Well, that news is set to become official today. From The Oklahoman:

“The Los Angeles Dodgers will announce at a Wednesday morning press conference at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark that they are shifting their Triple-A affiliation to Oklahoma City. Scheduled speakers include Dodgers President Stan Kasten and 86-year-old Hall of Fame legend Tommy Lasorda, who managed the Dodgers for 20 seasons.

Mandalay Baseball Properties announced earlier this year it would be selling all five minor league teams it owned, including the RedHawks, who will be purchased by Dodgers minority owner Peter Guber. According to sources, the sale price will be between ‘$23 to $25 million.'”

Sounds like a nifty event.

Randy Harrison of the Albuquerque Journal had some parting words for the Dodgers.

“Yet another question: Are the Dodgers convinced, as some people in the blogosphere believe, that they can’t evaluate players here in the mile high altitude – where baseballs fly farther off bats, yet break benignly out of pitchers’ hands?

If so, that is disrespectful to all the great players and great teams that made it work here over the years. And, duh (Californians understand that word) – it’s not like we’ve gotten higher in the past decade. Well, OK, actually we have. But if you find the 0.15-inch lift over the past decade to be significant, you’re just fault-finding.

Meanwhile, don’t blame us if you whiffed with your $5.25 million signing bonus to Zach Lee (7-13, 5.38 ERA here this year), whose baseballs were placed in the humidor just like everybody else’s.

Think about our fans’ support through this hard year. You just gave us the worst Isotopes team ever. Embarrassed us with your brawling, with your cheating pitcher who had to be suspended, even with the win you forfeited because you didn’t work the roster correctly.

And yet we never used that as an excuse to bite your heads off, even when you were biting each other’s ears off.”

If you look up the definition of “shots fired,” you’ll find that passage. I mean, get over it. It’s a business and it’s Triple-A baseball. The Albuquerque Isotopes are going nowhere. And if you’re concerned about not having a good team, you should be entering an agreement with one of the better farm systems in baseball — the Colorado Rockies. Get back to me in a couple years when Jon Gray strikes out 15 hitters in a complete-game shutout and let me know if you’re still upset.

It sucks for the loyal Dodger/Isotope/Duke fans in New Mexico, but when a minority owner of baseball’s richest team purchases a Triple-A team, it’s a no-brainer to house the Triple-A team there. It makes business and baseball sense.

The biggest news might come on the Double-A front. The NBC affiliate in Chattanooga, Tenn., reported on Monday that the Dodgers and Lookouts were expected to cut ties.

“What was long speculated is now true. Channel 3 has confirmed the Los Angeles Dodgers are exploring other locations to place their Double-A team.

The Dodgers have given the Chattanooga Lookouts a list of four possible locations they are interested in. The Lookouts are one of the four teams/locations but we’re told it is very unlikely the Dodgers will return to Chattanooga.

Lookouts GM Rich Mozingo tells us that the Dodgers can’t talk to any minor league teams until Tuesday.”

This was expected, but the second line of the report was interesting. According to Minor League Source, there were only four teams (when this report went live) in the Southern and Texas Leagues (the Dodgers wouldn’t house their Double-A team in the Eastern League) that had openings for Major League teams: Chattanooga, Huntsville, Mobile and Tulsa. With their impending move to Oklahoma City, Tulsa made the most sense. It’s about 100 miles from OKC and it would get the Dodgers back into the Texas League (haven’t been there since they were in San Antonio from 1977-2000). Huntsville extended its deal with the Brewers, while the Lookouts appear to be getting the Twins. But a funny thing happened on Tuesday.

The Mobile BayBears (plus-plus nickname) followed me, Mike, Eric Stephen and a lot of other Dodger folk (but not Jared, ha!) on Twitter. It might mean nothing, it might mean everything — who knows. Tulsa is expected to make a formal announcement on Wednesday. If it doesn’t have an agreement with the Dodgers, we can probably go ahead and purchase our BayBears hats.

Team R HR H
Mobile 0.954 1.015 0.996
Tulsa 1.013 1.290 0.968
Chattanooga 1.060 0.918 1.035

Let’s compare Mobile and Tulsa in terms of park factors (chart at right, 1.000 being average). It appears Mobile has the advantage in being more neutral, but it isn’t that big a difference. Julio Urias and Chris Anderson might prefer Mobile, while Corey Seager might prefer Tulsa. Both locations are better at suppressing runs than Chattanooga, while both are also more home-run friendly.

Tulsa has a 4-year-old stadium, while Mobile’s stadium opened in 1997. If the Dodgers land in Mobile, you have to wonder if the Diamondbacks are going to be mad that they stole their Double-A affiliate? Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a pool in Hank Aaron Stadium, but it’s surrounded by Mobile Bay, which feeds into the Gulf of Mexico. But I digress.

There’s a report from the Chattanooga Free Press that said the Dodgers are expected to agree with Tulsa, as the contingent in Oklahoma City for today’s festivities will head down to Tulsa afterward. It’s a pretty strong indicator the Dodgers’ Double-A team is going to end up there. It seems whoever runs the BayBears account did a great job trolling Dodger bloggers. Kudos to you, anonymous person.

Word should come down on both of these situations while the Dodgers are playing the Rockies. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter to me where they end up. It’s going to be difficult to get to either park for most Dodger fans.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.