The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

TCN Blog 2012 top story #20: Returning to Peoria and State College

The St. Louis Cardinals have enjoyed relative stability in their minor league system in recent years. That is due in a large part to the fact the organization owns five of its eight minor league affiliates.

Two of the three others will be shifting for 2013 and beyond, but the changes are not dramatic. In fact, they are quite familiar and comfortable.

On September 11, Triple-A Memphis and the Cardinals agreed to remain together for two more seasons. However, full-season Class-A Quad Cities and short-season Class-A Batavia were replaced by other teams in the same leagues – Peoria of the Midwest League and State College of the New York-Penn League.

The Cardinals had previously been affiliated with both Peoria and State College, each with the same ownership still in place.

One rumored move became official on September 18, when the Cardinals ended their eight-year affiliation with Quad Cities, opting to partner with Peoria instead. The Cardinals and Chiefs shared a 10-year relationship from 1995-2004. That included 2002, when the Chiefs won their lone Midwest League Championship, plus playoff clubs in 1996, 1998 and 2004. Earlier, the Cardinals had a three-year minor league presence in the Illinois town from 1954-56.

Though there were apparently some ruffled feathers when the Chiefs dumped the Cardinals for the Cubs eight years ago, the two sides seemed pleased to reconcile for what was announced as a four-year agreement. Quad Cities realigned with the Houston Astros.

The Chiefs’ motivation for a change could be as simple as wanting to see more winning baseball. As a Cubs affiliate since 2005, the Chiefs had an overall losing record at 549-559. They made the playoffs just twice in eight years, losing in the first round both times.

The Bandits’ time with St. Louis was far more productive. The Cardinals had an overall record of 587-515 (.533) in Quad Cities. They reached the MWL playoffs five times in eight years, including two of the last three seasons, and brought home the 2011 title.

The Cardinals are also coming home to State College, though their previous stay was just one season. Chuck Greenberg’s ownership group purchased the franchise seven years ago and relocated it from New Jersey to a spacious new state-of-the-art facility on the campus of Penn State University, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. An existing player development contract (PDC) with St. Louis had one year remaining.

When that expired, the Spikes aligned with the regional MLB club, the Pittsburgh Pirates, a move that was expected as soon as the sale was first announced. A by-product was that the Cardinals were out.

After six years of losing clubs and declining attendance, the Spikes decided to consider ending their affiliation with the Bucs and seek out alternatives this fall.

The Cardinals were also interested in bettering their situation in Batavia, a money-loser perennially at the bottom of the New York-Penn League in attendance. The facilities are below average and the club is for sale, likely to be relocated shortly afterward.

In their six years in Batavia, St. Louis’ clubs went 240-209 (.535), reaching the post-season twice and winning the 2008 NYPL championship.

On September 17, the Cardinals and Spikes agreed to a two-year Player Development Contract covering the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Batavia will be affiliated with the Miami Marlins going forward.

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43 Responses to “TCN Blog 2012 top story #20: Returning to Peoria and State College”

  1. blingboy says:

    Why am I not surprised the Luhnow’s moved into QC. He’s starting to annoy me. They will have a beautifull seting there, right on the river. It is one of my favorite places to watch baseball.

    Peoria is an easier drive from St. Louis.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    The Indians supplying of Choo gives the Reds a strong hitting team.. This puts a little bit of pressure on the Cards to consider trading for another Indian, SS Cabrera, to try to boost our offense.

  3. crdswmn says:

    The Cardinals have signed Ty Wigginton. Mo, you disappoint me so much. Yuck.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      The name Ty Wigginton prompts me to think: aging stiff.
      However, the Cards hope they gain something. Holliday tends to encounter back or leg problems. Wigginton could give Matt rest for 10 games.
      Beltran needs relief. Wigginton could play RF 40 starts against LHPs.
      Wigginton can play 3B and 1B, enabling us to keep Matt Adams and Oscar training at Memphis all season. That makes some sense. Their time will come later.
      Wigginton has played in some easy HR parks during his life. St Louis is not a cheapier HR park. So Ty may not provide a lot of pop off the bench.
      Wiggy does provides some maturity. Maybe he will contribute leadership.
      Lets play ball!

  4. Brian Walton says:

    My initial take on the Wigginton deal is posted.

  5. Bw52 says:

    For RH bench bat and backup 1B why not Wiggington? Fairly cheap.Some pop and can play several positions in a pinch.As much as i like Shane Robinson and his hustle having Wiggington pinch hitting you have some pop at least.So now thats Shane robinson,Justin Christian and Wiggingtonfrom the RH side.

    • crdswmn says:

      Wigginton hasn’r been able to hit worth crap in 4 years. He hit .152 as a pinch hitter last year. His defense is terrible. He is a below replacement level player. It is a complete waste of $5 million dollars.

  6. Bw52 says:

    Disagree.Wiggington is at least a power threat off the bench.He can be a fill-in at 1B or 3B.Many players have revived coming to the Cards so maybe Wiggington is one.For 2.5 million a year why not chance it.I would still like to see Mo bring in some more veteran NRI types…………….Josh Bell 3B switch-hitting 26 year old former top 20 prospect for Pirates,Jai Miller RH hitting OF,Luke Hughes 3B-2B .Another veteran C to help at AAA with Rob Johnson .

    • blingboy says:

      In 2012 Wigginton’s OPS was .688. Skip’s was .707. I know, Ty hits lefties and Skip hits righties, but I wanted to provide some perspective as to how much ‘pop’ we’re talking about here.

      In other words, Wigginton is a “Power threat off the bench” against lefties to whatever extent Skip was a power threat off the bench against righties.

      I don’t suppose its just a bad dream.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Wigginton is rated 230 pounds, thus some may assume he is powerful. Actually, his slugging percentage this past year was just .375, despite playing in a slugging home park in Philly.

        Wigginton is not exciting. It is sobering to realize Mo believes we need the likes of Wigginton to improve. A lot of fans are not going to love handing out $5MM to a stiff like Wiggy.

        • Bw52 says:

          A few years ago Wiggington would have been signed to start at 3B.So signing him now as a RH bat off the bench and backup at 1B-3B for a paltry 2.5 million a year is a worthy gamble .Who says Mo is finished making adjustments the roster. Wiggington is just a complimentary piece of the team puzzle.As for Schumackers power threat scenario i just say nonsense.

          • Nutlaw says:

            I’ve always been a big fan of Wiggy, irrationally or no. Multi-position versatility and some pop gets the job done. Sure, he’s probably washed up at this point, but I’m still happy.

            • crdswmn says:

              Wigginton was worth negative WAR in 2012. Even Schumaker wasn’t that bad. Wigginton is not just scraping the bottom of the barrel, he is digging for the last microbe at the bottom of the barrel.

              Worst signing in recent memory as far as I am concerned. At least Pedro Feliz had some defensive skills. Wigginton has none, his defense is worse than his offense.

              • JumboShrimp says:

                Mo wants to be ready when the bell rings in April. Wiggy is a vet and will be expected to produce in a niche role as a spot starter at RF/LF/3B/1b against LHPs. If we want this kind of player, then Wigginton was the best available.
                Hairston wants to play more and to stay in NY, so he would be an example of a man will not sign with the Cards. Mo has to realistically survey the field and find who is signable for St Louis. Wigginton is this right swinging microbe.

                • Brian Walton says:

                  Interesting story line, but it is just one man’s theory. You have no idea what Hairston wants or Mo, either.

                  • JumboShrimp says:

                    IIRC, Hairston has been reported to say he wants to stay in NY. (This is a customary platitude offered by free agents.) But the Yankees were said to be interested, not just the Mets. If true, then we there should be enough money to keep him in NY, in one uniform or the other. He does not need to decamp new york for less green in StL.
                    Scott Rolen was from the Midwest and wanted out of the East Coast, so was interested in a long term deal with the Cards, until TLR was too grating. Matt Holliday grew up in Oklahoma, was pals with Skip and Big Mac, so was amenable to a long term deal with StL, despite being rep’d by the Super Agent. The point: free agent movements can sometimes be only about money, but also about other factors like friendships. If there were ties between Hairston and members of the Cardinals, such could make him a stronger candidate to sign with StL. If not, there are 30 teams a free agent can choose amongst and the money will be good anywhere.

                    • Brian Walton says:

                      In other words, like I said, you don’t know.

                    • JumboShrimp says:

                      Brian, just to clarify, you also do not know what either Mo or any free agent want. This must intrinsically be an area for speculation.
                      You may have pumped Crdswmn up with hope for Hairston. If so, she may be disappointed to find Wiggy sitting under the Xmas tree.
                      This reminds me of the Izturis deal. I held my nose and was supportive of Mo, when many other jaws dropped in sad disbelief. Mo cannot unilaterally grab free agents. He has to survey the field of who might be interested in playing here and try to find the best match among player skills, team needs, and money. If he wanted a right swinging spot starter for the 4 corners, the best match turned out to be good old Wiggy.

                    • Brian Walton says:

                      A very fundamental difference is that I clearly accept what I do not know and do not try to repeatedly present my theories to others as fact. However, when others do so on my blog, I will continue to call BS on it.

                      P.S. Unless it is WC, in which case I will follow your advice and focus on the soothing dots… ;-)

                    • crdswmn says:

                      Oh, please, Brian didn’t “pump me up” on anything. I’m not an idiot or a naive schoolgirl. I never considered Hairston as a likely candidate. I know there are many variables at work with free agents. But I did expect someone better than Wigginton, who was never even on my radar because he is just so bad.

                    • JumboShrimp says:

                      Crdwmn, I can understand you not considering Wiggy as within the realm of possible. I was generally ok with Shane as the right swinging backup OF. He can defend, run the bases, platoon in CF, smack the occasional single as a pinch-hitter and I do not expect more. I was ok too with Chambers as another OF reserve.
                      The Cards have smart folks and are going to think hard about the team, because what they get paid to do, year around. They must have decided they wanted one more right swinging reserve. They surveyed the field of possibilities and ended up with Wiggy. He could start 40 games in RF and help out elsewhere if needed.
                      Am I enthused? No. Sometimes we have to settle for Mr. Available.

              • Bw52 says:

                Sabre stats and other mathmatical BS aside………………………………Mo obviously feels Wiggington can be a asset and still play the game.Thats all that matters………………can he still help the team…………….
                If he can`t then he gets cut…real simple…………………….don`t need a slide rule or a wizard formula……………if the guy can still play and help he will be around………..Jeez talk about much overreaction by the slide rule geeks.

                • Brian Walton says:

                  Bw52, there is no need to make inflammatory comments.

                  There are plenty of people who can legitimately question this signing just by looking at very basic stats. Choosing to not be among them is your right, but let’s have a civil discussion. Thanks.

                  • Bw52 says:

                    Brian-just trying to point out that numbers,slide rules and formulas don`t tell the whole story.Can the man still play and help is the main question.Judging the signing from a numbers only view is simply foolish and myopic IMHO.My opinion is lets see how it goes this spring and let more qualified people decide if Wiggington can help.Thats about as civil as it can be.I like the signi8ng and the fact that if it doesn`t work out the team is not hamstrung by the small cost.Plus nobody said Mo is done shopping yet.I choose to take the half full route instead of the half empty route taken by several on this blog.

                    • Brian Walton says:

                      Pick any of his stats – even as basic as batting average (or age!) – and look at his trend the past three or four years and this signing becomes more difficult to defend.

                      If you choose not to consider stats, then it becomes subjective and can turn emotional (words like foolish, myopic, geeks and the like get thrown around – not directed at the player or front office, but at other posters).

                      Difficult to have a decent, substantive discussion as a result.

                    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

                      They appeared to think they needed a PR move……. They made one…….. They overpaid to hide that fact. ………. Wiggy takes a big cut….. He will fit well in to the Cards saber link/permissions hitting philosophy…….. He will not threaten any of the prospects……….nor will his usage be anything less than obvious for their young coach in excepting responsibility for his usage…………..I wish I was making this up…….its your new evaluative paradigm.

                    • CariocaCardinal says:

                      PR move? that is one of the funnier things WC has ever said. This was an anti PR if I ever saw one.

          • blingboy says:

            I hope Ty has a resurgance in 2013 and Mo looks like a genious. I sort of feel like he will be clogging up the roster in 2014.

            • JumboShrimp says:

              If it makes anyone feel better, the duration of the contract likely owes to the market. Mo would prefer to sign Wiggy to a one year deal. Mo had to offer two years, given so much money sloshing around baseball looking for a home that even an over the hill stiff can land 2 years. Ugh.
              Mo recently unloaded Skip on the Dodgers. He previously unloaded Edmonds on the Padres. Maybe next winter, Mo can unload Wiggy. There are GMs even more desperate than ours.
              Wiggy reminds me of when we announced signing Cesar Izturis. That too was not a joyful moment. During 2008, Cesar OPSd 630 and helped make it a really long season, testing fan endurance.

              • blingboy says:

                I’m thinking of that 3rd baseman fiasco, I can’t remember his name. At $2.5 million a year, Wiggy will get playing time however bad he is. I’m hoping he rises from the dead like Lazarus.

                A great poll would be whether our new bat off the bench will out OPS Skip in 2013, unlike 2012.

                • Bw52 says:

                  Scott Cooper is the one maybe.A Stlouis native he was terrible while with the Cards.

                • Nutlaw says:

                  Though not a money guy, Pedro Feliz always comes to my mind when talking Cardinals third base fiascoes.

                  I dunno if Wiggy will out OPS Skip in 2013. It will probably mostly come down to how protected each is from same handed batters. Regardless, Wiggy and Matt Carpenter provide very solid backups at the four corners, one from each side of the plate.

                • JumboShrimp says:

                  Mo is not hoping Wiggy is going to drink from the fountain of youth and hit as well as 5 years ago. This signing is not a Dave Duncan is going to resurrect somebody gamble. That would be absurd.
                  No, Mo is making a cold calculation Wiggy could balance with Carlos Beltran, whose knees can use time off against LHPs. Mo hopes Wigginton can still squeeze a positive contribution out his declining game.
                  Mo jettisoned Adam Kennedy in Jan 2009, eating his $4MM contract. If Wiggy is not able to contribute enough during 2013, we may have to eat this contract too. Right now, we are gambling he can be helpful. Time will tell.

                  • blingboy says:

                    Wigginton is not a backup/relief option anywhere but 1B.

                    • JumboShrimp says:

                      Bling. I agree with you. But I have a suspicion the Cards are going to use Wiggy in RF, because RF is where there is playing time. .

                    • blingboy says:

                      For 2.5 they are going to use him somewhere, that is for sure. I agree the need is RF.

                    • JumboShrimp says:

                      There have been a number of multi-year deals for reserves and role players. A brother of Izturis got three years to be a middle infield reserve for the Jays, for instance. Choate got three years. In keeping, Wiggy was able to command 2 years, though a team would rather provide just a one year deal to any journeyman.
                      The signing of Wigginton does not seem so much a PR move for Cards fans as an indication that DeWitt is competitive with his pal Castellini who leads the Reds. He is so competitive, he will even sign Wigginton in search of the small gain he may provide.

  7. LarryBird says:

    I live in Peoria and would like to add a few things on how the Cardinals came back here to become the Chiefs again in single A. The Chiefs were dumped by the Cubs. That is the only reason Rocky Vonachen (The Chiefs owner) came crawling back to the Cards after he had dumped them. I am very grateful that the Cards did not hold a grudge and hopefully we can have a winning team again. Even though I dislike the Cubs I was looking forward to Epstein making the minor league teams competitive. When they dumped us I was shocked the Cardinals agreed to have us as their single A team because of what went down when we dumped them. I am excited because I know the Cards are committed to winning at all levels. That is what draws the fans.

  8. LarryBird says:

    Sounds good Brian. I am not the most articulate guy in the city but I would be glad to update you and others on what I see and hear. I am planning on becoming a season ticket holder for the 1st time.

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