Indians ink deal with MLB Pirates

April 9, 2008
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vicfieldThe Indianapolis Indians announced today they have signed a four-year extension on their player development contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The new agreement runs through the 2012 season.

Indianapolis posted a 224-205 regular-season mark during its first three years as Pittsburgh’s AAA affiliate. Over 30 Tribe players also received big league promotions during that same time frame.

After four rocky years with the Milwaukee Brewers, the agreement ushers in a welcome era of stability concerning the Indians’ Major League Baseball parent club. A stable MLB partner is key because the major league franchise is responsible for paying players and fielding a competitive roster full of hot prospects.

The Pirates affiliation, which began in 2005, has been a success on and off the field, Indians officials said. It has helped the Indians produce winning baseball teams, International League playoff clubs and strong attendance numbers, team officials added.

Indianapolis stayed above .500 for 145 straight days (April 5-Aug. 28) during the 2007 campaign. Since 2005, the Indians have spent 442 of 452 days at .500 or better. The streak includes 281 consecutive in-season days from April 22, 2006 to Aug. 28, 2007.

Indianapolis also spent 69 straight days (April 16-June 23) atop the IL’s West Division during the 2007 season. In 2006, the Indians spent 119 days in either first place or tied for the top spot.

The Tribe enjoyed the IL’s second-best attendance increase in 2007, jumping 10 percent from an average of 7,608 to 8,383. The Indians hosted 586,785 fans at Victory Field last year—their best regular-season attendance total since 2001.

Listed below are the Indians' MLB partners over the last four decades
2005-present Pittsburgh Pirates
2000-04 Milwaukee Brewers
1993-99 Cincinnati Reds
1984-92 Montreal Expos
1968-83 Cincinnati Reds
  • My favorite quote: A stable MLB partner is key because the major league franchise is responsible for paying players and fielding a competitive roster full of hot prospects. How exactly do the Indians expect to have a roster full of hot prospects when they are associated with the Pirates, one of the worst teams in baseball for the last 10+ years? Another four years of not just washed up major leaguers but washed up Pirate major leaguers.
  • DRT - your quote shows a lack of understanding. While the Pirates have not been one of the best organizations on the major league level over the last decade, they have done a good job of strengthening their farm system and bringing up good talent. They have recognized that in order to compete on a high level they will need to keep a steady influx of developed prospects moving up in the organization. They will never be the Yankees or the Red Sox, but in some ways that is good because the Indians wont constantly see its best players traded away for other teams talent and weakening our AAA roster.

    There are few washed up players on the roster, mostly players who have yet to move up to the majors. This has been a good relationship for the Indians and its a good club to have a continuing pact with. Even if you dont agree with that sentiment, most people who attend Indians games are there for the atmosphere and a day of fun with the family, not to obsess over the standings.
  • Good points, Ryan. Still, I would prefer that the Indians be affiliated with an MLB team that has a support base in Indy. As a Reds fan, that would be my preference, but I could also understand an affiliation with the Cubs. Local baseball fans would then be able to follow Indians players as they work towards a promotion to their favorite MLB team. I can't imagine there are many Pirates fans in Indy.
  • Many, many Indy folks would like to see a deal with the Cubs, but you won't pry the Cubs relationship out of Iowa. As for the Reds, that's kind of ironic. While a lot of people would like to see that relationship resume, it ended in part because Indians management complained when Reds honchos were calling up players late in the season hurting the Indians chances of making the playoffs. Some say that was a bit short-sighted on the Indians part. All in all, though, you could do worse than spending a few hours at Victory Field.
  • I understand that when you go to Indians games most people don't really care much about the final score. It's more just being able to enjoy baseball in the only way possible in this city. My point, while a bit sarcastic I admit, was simply that of all the teams to have a relationship with, why did it have to be the Pirates?

    To quote Brian: I can’t imagine there are many Pirates fans in Indy. I don't think there are many Pirates fan in Pittsburgh.
  • I am a Pirate fan and life long Hoosier, but that is not the point. The point is that we have good baseball in Indianapolis for years to come with a legitimate farm team with good young players. The baseball from the Pirates farm teams has been better the last few years than with the Milwaukee teams and the Reds team.
  • As has been already stated, the ultimate would be to have a relationship with a MLB team that also had a fan base in Indy. Obviously that's the Reds and Cubs at the majority, with other teams in the Midwest like the Pirates with minority fan bases. I can't think of a better situation than to watch Reds prospects come through Indy and then watch them again over in Cincy, but that's not going to happen for a while, and may never happen again. It may be a goal for the Indians, but it may be unreachble. It's clear that the Pirates represent the base case / best case scenario right now for the Indians organization. Good / great prospects coming through the system due to Pittsburgh's horrible string of seasons recently and a good focus on rebuilding through their farm system. Rocky or not, the relationship with the Brewers did at least send some big league talent through here that's now playing everyday at Miller Park. That's the best that can be done for local baseball fans, who demand the a good show on the field. Tough to negotiate with the boys in MLB when you don't hold many, if any, of the bargaining chips.

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