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MLB reorganizing minor league teams

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MLB reorganizing minor league teams

Major League Baseball has reorganized its minor leagues in a 120-team regional alignment.

MLB released a plan Friday for two Triple-A divisions, and three divisions each for Double-A, High-A and Low-A. Forty affiliates were dropped from 2019, the last season under the old minor league system, and the remaining teams were offered the 10-year licenses in December. All 120 accepted by Wednesday’s deadline.

The leagues have not yet been named. Major league owners, Commissioner Rob Manfred and his staff have not decided whether to retain the traditional names of the leagues, such as the International and Pacific Coast at Triple-A, the Eastern, Southern and Texas at Double-A and the California, Florida State and South Atlantic, which had been at Class A.

For now, MLB is calling the minor league groupings Triple-A East and West, Double-A Central, Northeast and South, High-A Central, East and West, and Low-A East, Southeast and West. There are geographic subdivisions within each league.

Triple-A teams for now remain scheduled to open 144-game schedules at the start of April but are likely to be pushed back until the start of May because of the pandemic.

Double-A teams, scheduled for 138 games each, and High-A and Low-A teams, with 132 games apiece, are for now slated to open in early May.

Top minor leaguers probably will spend April at alternate training camps, used by MLB teams to keep potential callups in shape last year, when the entire minor league schedule was canceled due to the virus.

Regular-season schedules are to be announced next week. Schedules will be regionalized and include six-game series to reduce travel and cut expenses, a person familiar with the planning told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because that detail was not announced.

Minor league postseason formats have not yet been determinedbecause of the pandemic.

Each franchise’s top four affiliates will include one team apiece at Triple-A, Double-A, High-A and Low-A. Additional clubs are allowed at spring training complexes and in the Dominican Republic.

MLB ended the Professional Baseball Agreement that governed the relationship between the majors and minors. The minors are being run from MLB’s office in New York under the supervision of Peter Woodfork, MLB’s new senior vice president of minor league operations and development, taking over from the Florida-based National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, which had governed the minors since 1901.

The New York-Penn League, which started in 1939, was eliminated and the Pioneer League, founded the same year, lost its affiliated status and became an independent partner league. The Appalachian League was converted to a college summer circuit for rising freshmen and sophomores.

MLB said big league teams will be an average of 200 miles closer to their Triple-A affiliates, allowing most to be within driving distance of their parent team, and that PDL licenses will improve facilities.

Salaries for players with minor league contracts are rising 38% to 72%. The weekly minimum rises from $290 to $400 at rookie level, $290 to $500 at Class A, $350 to $600 at Double-A and $502 to $700 at Triple-A. For players on 40-man rosters on optional or outright assignment to the minors, the minimum is covered by the Major League Baseball Players Association collective bargaining agreement and rises from $46,000 to $46,600 for a player signing his first major league contract. For a player signing a second or later major league contract, the minimum increases from $91,800 to $93,000.

Including four partner leagues of teams that are not big league farm teams — the Atlantic League, American Association, Frontier League and Pioneer League — and a pair of showcase leagues of players preparing for the following amateur draft — the Appalachian League and MLB Draft League — MLB’s system for 2021 will have 179 teams in 17 leagues in 43 states. Add in the two spring training complex leagues — the Arizona League and Gulf Coast Leagues — and there will be 209 teams in 19 leagues in 44 states and four provinces.

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Donald Douglas, longtime PSAL executive director, dead at 58

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Donald Douglas, longtime PSAL executive director, dead at 58

Donald Douglas, the longtime executive director of the Public School Athletic League, died late Friday night, according to friend and PSAL colleague Dwayne Burnett.

Douglas was 58, according to his Facebook page.

Douglas died of a heart attack, while vacationing on the island of Jamaica, after a bad fall eventually caused a blood clot to form, according to Burnett. The Brooklyn native and Bushwick High School alum had retired this week from his post. He was PSAL director since 2004, when he was promoted from deputy director, and spent more than 35 years working for the New York City Department of Education.

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Don’t make this catcher mistake

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Don’t make this catcher mistake

The 2021 fantasy baseball draft season is upon us, and with its arrival comes a variety of strategies to test out and employ.

Drafting with position scarcity in mind is something we see every year, and though the catcher position is routinely linked to the strategy, the belief that you need to draft one of the top backstops early is a mistake. If you have been leaning in that direction, it’s time to change gears before you fall over.

In fantasy football, position scarcity has people drafting No. 1-ranked tight end Travis Kelce early because, in securing him, you are obtaining a significant advantage over your opposition. His production dwarfs that of anyone else at his position and on a 10-man roster in a weekly matchup, the impact is huge. The same cannot be said regarding the No. 1 catcher, J.T. Realmuto.

There is plenty to love about Realmuto from a fantasy perspective. His three-year average has him as a .273 hitter with 25 home runs and 81 RBIs. The numbers are strong, but does drafting him in the fourth or fifth round over a 40-homer Pete Alonso or a 200-strikeout Lance Lynn still give you an advantage? Not when you understand it’s just one-fourteenth of your overall team production or when you see what you can get at the position several rounds later.

Casting aside 2020 data, we can look at a number of backstops who not only hit 20 or more home runs, but also hit .270 or better in 2019 and can be obtained at a much lower cost. Willson Contreras, Mitch Garver, Christian Vazquez and Omar Narvaez immediately stand out.

JT Realmuto
JT Realmuto
Getty Images

You also have players such as Yasmani Grandal and Roberto Perez, who matched the power, but fell short on the batting average, or James McCann and Travis d’Arnaud, who posted strong averages, but hit for slightly less power. That’s already eight players who can provide similar numbers at a fraction of the cost, and we’re just scratching the surface.

If Realmuto was a .300-30-100 player, the conversation would certainly be different. He’s a great player but he isn’t performing at a level that leaves your opposition in the dust. If his production can be matched 10 rounds later, you’re better off using that early pick on an elite arm or a bigger bat at another position. Leave your catchers for later.

Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy football advice.

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Mets star Pete Alonso opens up on why he quit social media

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Mets star Pete Alonso opens up on why he quit social media

PORT ST. LUCIE — Pete Alonso wasn’t the only big voice in the Mets organization to deactivate his social media accounts over the offseason.

But the first baseman going dark on Twitter and Instagram had nothing to do with the aftermath of a stock market saga, which was the reason owner Steve Cohen ditched Twitter, and everything to do with a new outlook on life away from a screen.

“I think that real life is just absolutely fantastic and for me, I think life is a blessing, it’s something that I feel like a lot of people, sometimes including myself, take for granted,” Alonso said Friday after a workout. “And I want to spend every second soaking in every single day because every single new day is a blessing, and I feel like especially in wake of what happened last year, there’s a lot of things that I feel like were taken for granted.

“In 2019, if you see everybody wearing this mask, you kind of scratch your head and just be like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’ But there’s a lot of new social norms that are in place now that we took for granted. I think for me, I just want to be appreciative of every single day. I want to live in real life.”

Alonso had been one of the more active Mets interacting with fans through social media, especially during his Rookie of the Year season in 2019, when he adopted “#LFGM” as the team’s new rallying cry.

Though he will no longer be in touch with fans online, Alonso is very much looking forward to welcoming them back in person at Citi Field this season. After playing at an empty stadium in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Mets are expected to have at least a portion of Citi Field open to fans when the 2021 season begins.

“Playing on TV is absolutely fantastic, but being there in person where one swing of the bat or making a diving play or striking somebody out, you can make that many people in person smile, stand, clap, cheer, yell even just by doing something,” Alonso said, with a big smile breaking out. “Once I heard 40,000 people at Citi Field go absolutely bonkers, that’s an adrenaline rush that I’m addicted to.

“I can’t wait until it’s packed out again like that. If it’s 25 percent, 30 percent, I can’t wait to hear people cheer again in person. For me, it’s addicting, and I love it.”

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