Categorized | Mark Timmons

It’s Time to Get Out of the Rare Air

This is not the first time I have brought up the issue that the Dodgers Triple A affiliate in Albuquerque is a boat anchor on the Dodgers organization.  The reasons why are very simple:  flyballs are homeruns there and curveballs don’t have much “bite.”  Good pitchers can lose their confidence and mediocre hitters become Babe Ruth.  The Dodgers just signed Dallas McPherson who just might hit 60 HR there, but is not a Major League prospect anymore because he can hit AAA pitching, but  nothing above that.  The PCL has been home to many such highly-heralded prospects, such as Billy Ashely, Greg Brock, Brandon Wood and the instant Dallas McPherson, who later were determined to be suspects.

Every hitter who plays at Albuquerque is going to get a big surge in their stats, not just power numbers, but in batting average, because when pitchers can’t rely on their breaking stuff as much, the hitters can sit on their fastballs.  By the time someone gets to AAA, I guarantee they can hit just about any fastball.  So, whatever a pitcher or a hitter does at that AAA level is unrealistic.  It’s fantasy!

I don’t know about you, but I’m more into reality.  Look at what Scott Van Slyke did at Albuquerque last year.  He OPS’ed .982 and still cleared waivers, because those numbers in the PCL don’t mean anything.  If he had that OPS in the International League, teams would have been all over him because that is a legitimate league.

Staying in Albuquerque is a disservice to Dodger fans, Dodger players and a waste of Dodger management’s time.  Albuquerque ruins pitchers and hitters.

Currently, the Dodgers have a Low-A affiliate in Midland, Michigan (Great Lakes Loons) and an AA affiliate in Chattanooga, Tennessee (Outlooks).  They also have a High-A affiliate in Rancho Cucamonga, California, which is also a hitter’s league.  The Dodgers frequently keep their best prospects away from Rancho Cucamonga and Albuquerque.  Rancho makes sense logistically, so maybe the Dodgers keep the High-A affiliate there, but Albuquerque just needs to go away.

It’s time for the Dodgers farm system to get legit.  It’s time to dump Albuquerque and get the AAA affiliate to  a city that is hitter and pitcher neutral.  I have two suggestions.  Since the Dodgers AA team is in Tennessee and the Low-A team in is Michigan, it only seems logical that the AAA affiliate could be in Kentucky or Indiana, which are both located between Tennessee and Michigan.  Two stadiums are exceptional:  (1) Louisville Slugger Stadium in Louisville, KY, home of the Louisville Bats (AAA affiliate of the Reds); and (2) Victory Field in Indianapolis, Indiana, home of the Indianapolis Indians (AAA affiliate of the Pirates).

Both are first-class organizations and this would have to be a two-year transition because both have agreements in place with their respective clubs.  The natural progression of things would be that prospects could move between A and AA or AA and AAA with just a 3 or 4 hour car ride.  Plus, without the rare air of the PCL, you don’t have to worry about ruining a pitcher or giving a hitter false hope.    Surely, Guggs and Company (especially Kasten) are smart enough to figure this out… aren’t they?

Of course, I would choose Indy, where I already get Press Passes and would give you excellent coverage of the AAA Indianapolis Indians, Dodgers-style!  I am biased on that part because I live here.

About Mark Timmons

When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible!

50 Responses to “It’s Time to Get Out of the Rare Air”

  1. Pete M. says:

    I’m pretty much in agreement with the inflated stats and everything but I’m going to be selfish and wish the AAA franchise were back in Las Vegas. I was able to go up to L.V. several times a season and enjoy the games. I was able to do that because I’m not a big gambler except for my bowl games this time of year.

  2. Pete M. says:

    I don’t know what you think of the ballpark, but it seemed good to me. Hell, they could build another one if they were serious about it. Close for rehabbing @ Rancho and Vegas. Only change, why the damn 51′s, I’ll never know.

  3. Mark_Timmons says:

    Still in the PCL, LV also inflates the stats as does Salt Lake on others. I like the stadium there, but the Dodgers have to move out of the PCL to be be legit in AAA.

  4. Badger says:

    Shouldn’t the Aaa team be in the same eco environment as the big league club? Ranching makes more sense to me.

  5. Bobbie17 says:

    I agree with all of you. But how are the other teams able to succeed with prospects? The Giants, D’backs, and others play in the PCL. I think, mostly, the coaching is bad and unable to get the players over the hump. I don’t think it helps that the team bails on these guys most of the time. It seems they get one shot, and that’s it. I don’t think it means much to anyone that someone is a Dodger prospect, not even the prospect himself. We need systemic pride. Of course, it helps to have a trophy once in a while. 1988????????? Most of these guys weren’t even born then. It starts with winning, and then everything falls into place. How to do it?

    • Bobby says:

      Agree with this. Other teams have AAA in the PCL, and they bring up legit prospects.

      I personally think we belong back in Las Vegas.

  6. Badger says:

    Geez, quick posts with a phone requires an attentive user. That obviously ain’t me.

    There are AAA teams out west, and would require some logistics but its my contention that your AAA club should play in a stadium that is identical to the ML stadium. For us, that city is Rancho Cucamonga. The field there could easily be fitted to Dodger Stadium dimensions.

  7. Roger Dodger says:

    On Albq. Here in San Antonio, the Dodgers had their AA team from 1977 till 2000. Then they moved to Jacksonville and beyond.

    A new ball park was build for them (AA) in 1994. But it only seats 6,200, but when the “outfield berm” is full, can go up to 8 or 9 thousand.

    Just this week on the front page of the newspaper was a long article of making a new baseball stadium, toward downtown, that would seat 10,000 to make if for AAA, and expansion possibilities for major leagues after that. There are over 2 million folks in the area, and Austin is just 80 miles up the road, plus all of South Texas below here.

    San Antonio has a long tradition of minor league baseball, and the city is about ready for a major league team — if there is expansion or a team needs to move.

  8. Roger Dodger says:

    Spring Training for 2013. We leave for China March 22, so if I went to any of March, would have to be in the middle at the latest.

    The problem now are the crowds. And with the new ownership, and players coming in, it will be really crowded on the weekends.

  9. Evan Bladh says:

    You are definitely on to something here. I have always proposed that the Dodgers move their Triple A affiliate to Southern California. The inland empire has enough population to support another major league team. The San Diego Padres had plans to move their AAA affiliate to Escondido, about 30 miles north of San Diego.

    Having the PCL team in Southern California would accomplish a few things: 1st, a ballpark with Dodger Stadium dimensions in the LA climate would condition players to what it would be like to play at Dodger Stadium in LA weather (climate, elevation, etc). 2nd, rabid Dodger fans can actually go and watch the top prospects when the Dodgers aren’t in town. 3rd, Logistically, the convenience of such a move would be fantastic with regard to minor league rehabs and quick call ups. If a player is rehabbing, he remains at home, doesn’t have to deal with hotels, moving training/rehab staff etc., and it’ll be against a competitive level higher than what is faced at Single A Rancho Cucamonga. 4th, the “coolness” factor would be amazing. Perhaps the Hollywood Stars PCL team can be recreated.

    You are definitely on to something here Mark.

  10. Badger says:

    What Evan said.

    But cept of course the part about Mark being on to something. Now, he may be ON something but what he wants is a Dodger AAA team in his home state, which makes no sense to me. An Inland Empire team is logistically perfect and therefor makes the most sense.

    • ken says:

      It does make sense to move the dodger AAA team out of the American and into the PACIFIC Conference! Move the Mets to another city in the east, close the LV stadium, and then have the Crazy Guggenhiems build a complex in the IE for the dodger’s AAA team. You could put one each of all of the businesses that Magic used to own at the complex plus a dolphin exhibit and call the place Flipper Park!

  11. RogerCraig says:

    The Low-A and AA are already in the Midwest. To me it does have merit to move the AAA there are well. I like the park in Louisville but have never been to the one in Indianapolis. Players move between A and AA and AA and AAA frequently. Keep Rancho for quick rehab stints (they also have Camelback Ranch) and move the AAA to Louisville or Indianapolis is my vote.

  12. Jae says:

    Rancho is not going to be a AAA team. Get Real! That will never happen!

    • Badger says:

      Of course it won’t Jea. But, it does make sense. A AAA team in an environment that has no L.A. fans, is not anything like L.A. weather, is not at the same altitude and is a park that has different dimensions just doesn’t make any practical sense at all. Obviously Albuquerque is NOT WORKING! If it don’t work FIX IT!

      The IE Magic Flippers. I like it. And I would bet they would sell out 10,000 every night. To Albu’s credit, they are third in the PCL in attendance…. so they have that going for them. But, does that really matter?

  13. RoidRage says:

    I went to the very first opening night of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes Stadium when they were a Padres affiliate, I believe in the mid 90s can’t recall exact year. Great park to see a game in because it is pretty small. I sat on the 3B line down in those seats that have little tables in front of you to put your beer and grub on. Probably doesn’t work for a AAA club, unless they do major renovations and put seating around the outfield walls. Nice location for access just off the I-15. Besides if the game gets boring you can walk just outside the gate and watch beer league softball games on the diamonds surrounding the stadium, lol.

  14. Gonzo says:

    Tucson would be a great place for the AAA team. Good sports town 2 hour flight to LA and GREAT weather.

  15. Badger says:

    Tucson? Don’t they already have a AAA team? And isn’t it pretty close to San Diego?

    Give it Long Beach.

  16. Reggie says:

    I vote to get out of the PCL. Anywhere but the PCL.

  17. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    I’m all for getting out of ALBQ., and, in fact, all for getting out of the PCL. Not sure if that’s feasible, but I’d certainly like to see the Dodgers AAA affiliate in a place where Dodgers management wasn’t hesitant to send their best pitching prospects.

    If you tear it up at ALBQ. it doesn’t mean you won’t succeed in the big leagues, but it’s less of an indicator of big league success than a big year in the International League. James Loney got us excited while hitting .380 in the PCL, but Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier also spent time in the PCL.

    The lack of success the Dodgers have had with their farm system in recent years probably has little to do with where their teams are located, and more with the McCourt era lack of financial commitment to player development. I believe in the two years prior to this one, the Dodgers were 30th among MLB teams in their spending on international talent. And there wasn’t much commitment prior to that either. So while I’d like to see the Dodgers out of the PCL, I don’t believe it’s major factor in the recent paucity of talent coming through the Dodgers system. That problem, I believe is being addressed by our current ownership, and I expect that we will begin to see results in the coming years. In the meantime, trades and free agency will probably be our main source of talent in the near future. Since a lot of the players currently being signed for our minor league system are very young, I expect that it will take at least a few years before we begin to see evidence of a growing homegrown pipeline of talent. You don’t fix years of neglect overnight.

  18. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    I used Kemp and Ethier only as quick examples that came to mind to make the point that success in the PCL doesn’t predict failure in the big leagues. Problem is, it isn’t a very good predictor of success either.

    Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I also believe that Ogden in the Pioneer League is also a very favorable hitting environment. Probably not the best place to have a rookie league team. Jake Lemmerman’s .363 at Ogden in 2010 comes to mind. That was probably a combination of the favorable hitting environment and the fact that Lemmerman was just out of college and competing against kids mostly just out of high school.

  19. Dan says:

    I’m all for ditching our current AAA location and putting our hitter and pitchers in a park that mirrors chavez ravine.

    However I thought I read not too long ago to my chagrin that we had just re-upped with ALBQ? Aren’t we locked in contractually for another few years?

  20. Badger says:

    While I do appreciate the logic Brooklyn presents, I still have to ask, how do the Dodgers evaluate talent if the numbers being put up by their minor league players have no real value?

    These guys need a real, translatable, working environment in which to develop. If Albuquerque isn’t the place, I would look elsewhere. .

  21. Roger Dodger says:

    Mark mentioned hitting the fastball, and that most guys in AAA can do that . . .

    It is not the fastball that is the problem with young hitters — it is hitting the curve ball or breaking ball, by major league pitchers that destroys hitters.

    Even Kemp did (and maybe still will from time to time) chase the breaking ball out of the strike zone. Remember when pitchers just kept him off balance, with inside and on the corner pitches, then kept moving them on the far corner and off the plate — Kemp was a sucker for them.

  22. Badger says:

    How many great curve balls are being thrown in the PCL?

  23. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    Given the conditions at ALBQ. it’s probably difficult for evaluators to judge talent. I imagine they base their judgment on players as they come up through the system, and therefore have some idea of what these guys did prior to arriving in ALBQ. Still, it’s got to make it more difficult. It’s also got to make it more difficult for the players. How does a young hitter at ALBQ. learn to hit quality breaking pitches if he doesn’t see them in the PCL (at least, not very often). In fact, given that the Dodgers tend to keep their best pitching prospects out of the PCL, I imagine the same goes for other teams. Consequently, hitters not only aren’t seeing many quality breaking pitches, but they’re also not seeing many of the better pitching prospects either.

    And if a talented young pitcher is kept out of the PCL, how difficult must it be to evaluate his talent, since he’s not facing more advanced hitters?

  24. elric stormbringer says:

    How about New Orleans? The N.O. Zephyrs are currently the Marlin’s PCL affiliate. New Orleans is, I think, in the same time zone as both Tennessee and Michigan. At sea level the ball certainly wouldn’t carry as it does in Las Vegas or Albuquerque.

    • Badger says:

      It’s better than mile high Albuquerque elric.

      You are saying exactly what I am Brooklyn. Other organizations AAA teams have a seeming advantage with their advanced players seeing better pitching. Are we missing something here?

      Long Beach has a half million people living there, most all of whom are Dodger fans. There used to be a field there (Blair) that could work if its still there. If not, the Guggs could sure build a facility.

      In the mean time, we are in New Mexico with a field that does not translate, develop, or reveal true player ability.

  25. Michael says:

    The logical choice for me is Palm Springs. Likely to have sell-out crowds and just a 911 call away for the replacements.
    The sentimental choice would be Vero Beach. The logistical nightmare aside it would instill Dodger pride playing on the hallowed grounds.
    Death Valley?

    Happy Holidays to you and yours

    • Badger says:

      Palm Springs is at least close, but the climate is nothing like Chavez Ravine. Didn’t the Angels have a team there? San Bernardino already has an Angel team there. I think we may be stuck with mile high Isotopes Park. Maybe they can do something to the ball to make it actually curve.

      Not much going on. Christmas is going to be low key at my place. Happy Holidays to all of you.

  26. Pete M. says:

    This topic, like many, took off and has now has a life of it’s own. I’ll stay with my selfishness and stick with Lost Wages…
    You know I’ve always had a feeling that AA is the true acid test of a young player. So many truly good players seem to skirt AAA and jump to the bigs. I can go see Albuquerque in May at L.V. and I’m guaranteed to see from both dugouts alot of guys playing ball with AAAA skills that will never make a long term living in the MLB.

    • Badger says:

      I agree about AA. It would appear we have more talent there than at AAA. I don’t think any team wants to send their young pitchers to the PCL.

  27. Pete M. says:

    Have a great and safe holidays to all…A great time to be with family and friends…As with Thanksgivings, for those few days, screw the calories and just add 10 min’s to your walk or exercise regimen…

  28. RoidRage says:

    “Long Beach has a half million people living there, most all of whom are Dodger fans”

    One major problem with the idea of a AAA team in LB. The other half of the residents are gang banging criminals. I wouldn’t go to a game there if they paid me. Might as well put a team in Inglewood. The Hoods of Inglewood would be a catchy name however (gracious Pulp Fiction).

  29. Roger Dodger says:

    RR, since some of us are not from southern Calif. and might not know — but why are there so many criminals in Long Beach and Inglewood? And are the rest of the areas out there — safe??

    • Badger says:

      Long Beach wasn’t that bad when I lived down there. I mean, there was always an “element”, but I lived in Belmont Shore for a while, it was actually a nice. Sorry to hear you feel it’s gone that far downhill.

      btw, Chavez Ravine ain’t exactly in Beverly Hills.

  30. RoidRage says:

    Has nothing to do with how I feel, Badger, it is just a fact of life that has nothing to do with. How many years since you left LB?

    RD, it’s a sign of the times. I could go into the social and justice system and the basic problems of what we do and don’t do about the criminal element and that would answer your question. I think you know what I am saying without me going any further.

  31. RoidRage says:

    One more thing, I agree about the Ravine, just drive thru Glendale on your way into the stadium, wouldn’t want to break down in there in the evening. Had a friend that used to park just outside the stadium to avoid giving extra cash to McHaircut, got broken into twice. He began paying for parking again.

  32. Badger says:

    Truth be told I haven’t been to Belmont Shore in years. But I did look up the crime rate for Long Beach and it did look bad. But then I looked up the crime rate for L. A. and it was bad too. Maybe the Dodgers should move everything to the Midwest. Make it so Mark. The Indianapolis Dodgers…….. brought to you by U.S. Water Systems.

    • ken says:

      I thought that there was already a baseball team in Belmont Shores because I have heard that there are so many switch hitters around there.

  33. Michael says:

    Wow small world. I too spent some time in Belmont Shores, more specifically the Long Beach Naval shipyard; 1975.
    Hamburger Henrys ring any bells?
    Some great Dodger programs on Prime Ticket this evening if you have the selection. 693 on Directv.

    Ho,ho,ho

    • Badger says:

      I think I remember that place. I have been a vegetarian since 1971 so, my last burger could have been there. I recall a nightclub right on 2nd St., can’t remember the name of it but it was hoppin’. I lived above the crystal store, I think it was on the corner of Argonne. I also lived briefly closer to the beach on Quincy. Brings back some really great memories. In Jr. High and High School I lived over in Los Alamitos. Los Al High wasn’t built yet, so we were bused over to Western in Anaheim. Orange County was much different back then. Mostly orange groves, strawberry fields and oil derricks, especially down toward Huntington Beach.

      Merry Christmas all!! Hope Santa is good to you.

  34. JMcL says:

    I live in ABQ and I think the park is perfect. McPherson squeaked out about 40 HRs once and half the games were played in other parks, not just ABQ. I think a good ballplayer would shine in the adverse conditions encountered from various ballparks, not just their home field.

    I go to every game and I have not seen anyone having problems pitching curves, sliders or knuckleballs (Haeger).

    Home runs are not a given in our park, and I do not recall ever seeing 2 ballparks with the same dimensions, other than the diamond itself.

    ABQ has one of the largest attendance than most other AAA parks.

    GO ISOTOPES!!!

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