Major League Baseball has sent out invitations to minor league teams across the country that have made the cut to be part of the 120-team minor league structure. The Altoona Curve, as expected, are on the list and will continue to be the Pirates’ Double-A affiliate.
There are legal formalities that have to take place with regards to the minor league teams accepting the invitation and agreeing to the particulars.
But at long last, there is now at least confirmation that the Curve have made the cut to be part of the 120. That was never really in doubt, quite frankly, given all of the positive things the Curve have going for them, but it is still significant to actually get some level of confirmation that the franchise made the list.
LISTEN: Curve GM Derek Martin discusses the news on Sports Central with Cory Giger
The Pirates made it official this afternoon about the four minor league teams they are inviting to be part of their system. As expected all along, this will be the minor league breakdown for the Bucs:
There are still many, many questions the minor league affiliates need answered.
Because they haven’t gotten any answers throughout this whole process from Major League Baseball, it has created a lot of frustration for minor league officials.
Curve owner Bob Lozinak is among them.
“Just concerned, just concerned,” Lozinak said by phone Wednesday about the uncertainty that remains. “The frustration of it is when you don’t know what you’re doing. … It’s like you’re building your house but you can’t get the guy to come dig the hole to get the foundation in.
“I’m looking at the facts as they stand,” Lozinak added. “We’re in a position where we don’t have any power right now. So what do you do? You fill it in with praying, that’s all you can do.”
Lozinak has had discussions with his son, David, the Curve’s chief operating officer, and with GM Derek Martin.
“It’s, ‘What have you heard?’ Nothing, nothing, nothing.’ It’s very discouraging at this point,” Lozinak said.
“We’re sort of flying in the plane, and we don’t know if the wheels can go down because they’re jammed. We’re working on the problem before we hit the ground.”
If the Curve can get the answers they need from Major League Baseball, then Lozinak feels the franchise still can provide an outstanding product and be in good shape going forward.
“If a lot the unanswered questions are unanswered, yeah, why wouldn’t we be?” he said.
“If we’re back to normal, it’s up to us as the staff to get the people to come back.”
The Curve have been in the Double-A Eastern League since their inception in 1999, and that is not expected to change. Now, the league itself could be called something different going forward with MLB now in charge of the minor leagues, but by and large, the same grouping of teams that have always been in the Eastern League are expected to remain in Altoona’s Double-A league.
The one exception is the Trenton Thunder. The Yankees pulled out of Trenton and now will have their Double-A affiliate in Somerset, N.J. That team also will be in the same league with the Curve.
There potentially is one really good benefit about all of this: MLB teams now will have the ability to extend their player development contracts with affiliates for many years at a time. So for instance, if the Pirates are fully happy with the Curve and have no intentions of ending the affiliation, they could agree to a 10-year deal if so desired.
The State College Spikes were not on the list of 120 teams. That franchise competed in the short-season New York-Penn League, and under baseball’s new structure, there no longer will be short-season affiliated leagues.