As many Cardinals watchers know, the 2006 World Series hangover didn't last long. With the club coming off their first losing record this decade and a generally uninspiring set of winter transactions, that there has been increasing unrest – fanned by some corners of the media - focused on the perception that ownership has gone cheap.
DeWitt reminds us that there is more to building a winning organization than just the highly-scrutinized and highly-debatable major league player payroll. A increasing investment in the farm system is one such growth area.
'We're one of the few teams that have seven minor league teams. We have a Gulf Coast team as well as a Rookie League team. Why don't other teams have that? They don't want to spend the money,' DeWitt explained.
The above quote motivated me to look into something that I have been curious about for some time: At what minor league levels does each of the MLB organizations have teams?
Well, I built a spreadsheet and discovered the following:
- All 30 MLB organizations have teams at the four full-season levels.
- 22-of-30 have Short-A teams. Those that don't are Atlanta, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati, Kansas City, both Los Angeles clubs, Milwaukee and Minnesota.
- 15-of-30 have what I'll call High-Rookie teams, the equivalent of the Cardinals' Johnson City club in the Appalachian League. Two of those 15 organizations have two teams: Chicago White Sox and Kansas City - more on these two teams later. Those that don't: Boston, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland, Detroit, Florida, New York Yankees, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Texas, Toronto and Washington.
- 25-of-30 have Low-Rookie teams, those playing in either the Arizona League or the Gulf Coast League. Those that don't are Arizona, Chicago White Sox, Colorado, Houston and Tampa Bay.
Therefore, there are only three organizations out of 30 that have teams at all seven USA minor league levels: Baltimore, the New York Mets and St. Louis. Kansas City has seven minor league teams as well since they have two at the High-Rookie level, while they do not have a Short-A team. However, while the Chicago White Sox have two High-Rookie level teams, they do not have a Low-Rookie team so their team total ends up at six.
Then I looked at which organizations participate in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) and the Venezuelan Summer League (VSL).
- 29-of-30 organizations play in the DSL, with five of them fielding two teams: Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Oakland, Toronto and Washington. None of those five organizations compete in the VSL. (Only Milwaukee did not have a team in the DSL.)
-11-of-30 organizations play in the VSL, with four of the eleven sharing a team and facilities. The eleven that play in the VSL are: Chicago Cubs (share), Cincinnati (share), Detroit, Houston, Minnesota (share), New York Mets, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle, St. Louis and Tampa Bay (share).
In conclusion, only two of 30 organizations have teams at all seven USA minor league levels plus both the Dominican Summer League and Venezuelan Summer League: the New York Mets and St. Louis.
This isn't intended to address the player pipeline or the quality of the teams. Yet it is clear which organizations are spending the money to field all these teams. The New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals. Two and only two.
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