The Mets announced today that they've agreed on a two-year affiliate deal with the Las Vegas 51s (@LasVegas51s) of the Pacific Coast League. The pact was inevitable once the Blue Jays, the 51s' previous parent organization, signed on with the Buffalo Bisons, leaving the Mets with no choice but to move their Triple-A affiliation across the country.
Logistically, this is a loss for the Mets, who could more easily shuffle players to and from upstate New York than they can with prospects in Las Vegas. It's a big win for Mets minor leaguers, however, who would doubtless prefer the Vegas strip to whatever the hell there is to do in Buffalo.
This sort of affiliate musical chairs is common and recurrent. The Mets will be the fourth big league team to shack up with the 51s since 2000, following the Jays (2009-2012), the Dodgers (2001-2008), and the Padres (1983-2000). In recent seasons, the Mets have been affiliated with the Norfolk Tides (1969-2006), the New Orleans Zephyrs (2007-2008), and the Bisons (2009-2012).
The underreported upside for Mets fans is the bad-assery of 51s merchandise:
Added by Rob Castellano: For Mets prospect watchers, however, this marks a departure from Buffalo — and the rest of the farm system for that matter — in that Las Vegas has always been a hitter-friendly and, more importantly for our purposes, pitcher-unfriendly ballpark as a result of the thinner air found in such high desert environs.
Las Vegas will certainly prove a much tougher challenge than Buffalo for Mets top prospects like Zack Wheeler, Jeurys Familia, and Collin McHugh. The staff ERA for the Bisons over the past four seasons was just under 4.20. Conversely, that same statistic for Las Vegas pitchers has been a shade over 5.20.
But hey, good day to be Val Pascucci though, amirite?
This ends a four-year stint in Buffalo that was rife with complaints from Buffalo ownership regarding the lack of a competitive product. In those four years, the Bisons never finished above .500 and combined for a 260-313 overall record.
On a tangentially related note, the Mets also announced that they will not bring back Triple-A Pitching Coach Mark Brewer. According to friend of the site Andy McCullough, "A recent internal review of the Mets minor-league system revealed a disconnect between the practices of the Triple-A pitching staff and the organization’s prescribed pitching program."
The 51-year old Brewer has worn many hats in his time as a member of the Mets organization. He began as Pitching Coach of the 2006 Double-A Binghamton Mets then moved to the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs the next season. In 2008, he was the New York Mets' Latin America Pitching Coordinator and after a season with the Pirates in '09, he came back to the Mets in 2010 to again work as Binghamton's Pitching Coach. After a season with the now defunct GCL Mets in 2011 he was back in Triple-A as the Pitching Coach for the Buffalo Bisons in 2012.