Mets moving Triple-A affiliate to Buffalo
Club leaving New Orleans; two-year contract begins in '09
NEW YORK -- When general manager Omar Minaya was asked by COO Jeff Wilpon to find a new home for the Mets' Triple-A franchise, he picked up the phone and called Mark Shapiro.
The Indians' GM raved about one of his Minor League affiliates, the Buffalo Bisons. Minaya listened to Shapiro's stories about owner Bob Rich, the way the players were treated and the amount of talent in upstate New York.
So, to answer Wilpon's question, "Where's the best place to develop our players?" Minaya stood on Shapiro's word. The Mets will no longer have their Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans as of 2009, and have moved closer to home by signing a two-year player-development contract with Buffalo.
The announcement was made on Monday at what will become the Mets' Triple-A stadium, Dunn Tire Park, where Wilpon, Minaya and Adam Wogan, the director of Minor League operations, were accompanied by Rich; his wife, Mindy; Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown; and New York Governor David Paterson.
"The Mets are one of the most highly recognizable franchises in all of sports and have a well-established tradition of winning and excellence, which makes them a perfect fit for the Buffalo Bisons," Rich said. "The Bisons recognize the importance of having a strong Major League partner and feel that this new connection with an in-state team will provide our fans with many seasons of great baseball."
This is the second time in the Bisons' 124-year history that they have paired with the Mets. The Bisons were the Mets' International League affiliate for three seasons (1963-65). In fact, former first baseman Ed Kranepool played in Buffalo in 1963 and '64 before beginning his 18-year Mets career.
Moving from New Orleans to Buffalo makes the most sense geographically, Minaya said in a statement, as it keeps three of the Mets' affiliates in New York State (joining Class A Brooklyn and Double-A Binghamton). From a travel perspective, designating players will be an easier chore, as well.
"We look forward to being in Buffalo as an organization and in the community, and working with the Rich family as home base for our top Minor League team," Wilpon said. "Their commitment to innovation has earned them the well-deserved reputation for management excellence and providing the finest fan experience in the Minor Leagues."
Paterson expressed his hope that another hardy generation of talent will come through the Buffalo system. Following Sunday's loss to Atlanta, spurred by the Braves' four-run eighth inning, the governor hoped for better things for the Mets in the season's final week.
"The Mets' bullpen is going to kill me," Paterson joked. "It's not the budget, it's not AIG, it's not the Federal Reserve -- it's the Mets' bullpen."
Jon Blau is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.