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Kernels mull whether Angels are still heavenly fit (with reader poll)
CEDAR RAPIDS - Things are different. No question about that.
It'll be interesting to see if they're different enough for the Cedar Rapids Kernels to test the affiliation free-agent pool for the first time in two decades.
Kernels President Gary Keoppel said Thursday the Midwest League club has made no concrete plans in regards to a Player Development Contract with the Los Angeles Angels that expires after this season. The Angels have provided players for the Kernels for 20 years, the longest standing marriage in the league.
“There are 12 teams out of the 16 in our league that are up, and we're one of the 12,” Keoppel said. “We're trying to determine if it is best for us to extend with the Angels or go into the pool.”
There hasn't been much debate in years past. Former longtime general manager Jack Roeder and most members of the Kernels' board of directors (the 15 local men and women who own the ballclub) have long been enamored with the Angels, and vice versa.
Two-year or four-year PDC extensions were usually hammered out easily. But the Angels underwent massive front-office changes last off-season, and the Kernels are trying to figure out the new guys. First-year Angels farm director Scott Servais was in town for the first time last week and will return in August, when it's expected he'll discuss the PDC issue in depth.
“This is like a brand-new relationship,” Keoppel said. “It's a new group with a new philosophy. I'm not saying it's good or bad. It's just different.”
“Cedar Rapids has had a great relationship with the Angels; we've been here a long time,” Servais said. “I fully expect us to continue that relationship. I'd be shocked if we don't. And I realize that if they're not happy, then (things might change). I know that there's new people coming in here with the Angels, how are we going to handle things? But the Midwest League has always been a good league. The facility here is fine, conducive to developing players. I don't see a change being necessary.”
What is your opinion?
Should the Cedar Rapids Kernels renew PDC with Angels or find new major league partner?
Keoppel said an affiliation committee of board of directors members asked Roeder two years ago to construct a list of qualities the club seeks in a major league partner. Having players be involved in the community is a large one, perhaps the largest.
The Kernels are 1,332-1,363 as an Angels affiliate and haven't won a Midwest League championship (or been in the finals) since 1994, the second year of the relationship. Some people believe being affiliated with a more visible major league club, particularly one in the Midwest, would be a boon for the Kernels, especially from an attendance standpoint, but Keoppel said he's not certain how true that is.
“That's always been the $64,000 question,” he said. “I don't know, for instance, if the Cardinals being in Quad Cities has had that much of an impact. We've talked about that with other clubs. It's hard to put a finger on.”
The four Midwest League partnerships extended through the 2014 season are Great Lakes (Dodgers), Lake County (Indians), West Michigan (Tigers) and Wisconsin (Brewers). Eight of the 14 PDCs in the South Atlantic League (the other professional low-Class A league) also expire at the end of this season.
Among teams without working low-A agreements for 2013 are the Cubs, Cardinals and Twins. The Kernels cannot have direct communication about PDCs with another major league organization until they would officially declare free agency after the season.
Even then, they could theoretically explore options and work out another deal with the Angels.
“To be honest with you, everything has been on the table in our discussions,” Keoppel said. “We definitely have to have a plan in place by the end of the season.”
Here is a list of every PDC agreement in low-Class A and its status:
Beloit (Twins) – Expires
Bowling Green (Rays) – Expires
Burlington (Athletics) – Expires
Cedar Rapids (Angels) – Expires
Clinton (Mariners) – Expires
Dayton (Reds) – Expires
Fort Wayne (Padres) – Expires
Great Lake (Dodgers) – Signed through 2014
Kane County (Royals) – Expires
Lake County (Indians) – Signed through 2014
Lansing (Blue Jays) – Expires
Peoria (Cubs) – Expires
Quad Cities (Cardinals) – Expires
South Bend (Diamondbacks) – Expires
West Michigan (Tigers) – Signed through 2014
Wisconsin (Brewers) – Signed through 2014
SOUTH ATLANTIC LEAGUE
Asheville (Rockies) – Expires
Augusta (Giants) – Expires
Charleston (Yankees) – Signed through 2016
Delmarva (Orioles) – Signed through 2014
Greensboro (Marlins) – Expires
Greenville (Red Sox) – Signed through 2016
Hagerstown (Nationals) – Expires
Hickory (Rangers) – Expires
Kannapolis (White Sox) – Signed through 2014
Lakewood (Phillies) – Expires
Lexington (Astros) – Expires
Rome (Braves) – Club owned by Braves
Savannah (Mets) – Expires
West Virginia (Pirates) – Expires