Syracuse Mets Planning For Triple-A Season To Begin As Scheduled
MLB lockout aside, plans are for Triple-A baseball in Syracuse to begin on time.
Come Tuesday April 5, barring any bad weather, the opening game of the 2022 season of the New York Mets' top affiliate will be played. Syracuse's opponent is scheduled to be the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (New York Yankees' Triple-A Northeast Division affiliate).
With two months to go before the start of the season, Syracuse's parent club is out in earnest pledging support for baseball in Central New York.
"We want to win," said New York's President of Baseball Operations Sandy Alderson during a recent virtual affiliate caravan with local media. "The two purposes for our minor league system is to develop players, and to win. We have prospects that I think will be impactful at the Syracuse level."
Alderson, who visited Syracuse's home ballpark NBT Bank Stadium last season, isn't shy about the excitement he has for the 2022 season. He tells of the Mets, from the organization's offices at Citi Field in Queens, offering a winning commitment throughout the system. Additional staff, and new equipment, (including in the weight room) according to Alderson, demonstrates how invested the Mets on the MLB level are in Syracuse.
Billy Eppler, last November name the New York Mets' general manager, also was made available to the media during the virtual caravan.
"We want players in our system, at Triple-A, who would be able to go up to the big league level, at any time for 15 days," said Eppler, who prior to coming to New York work in a similar appointment for five seasons with the Los Angeles Angels. "Finding depth (for Syracuse), acquiring players, so we could be among the top seven minor league systems is our goal."
Because of the MLB lockout, players on each clubs' 40-man roster can't be considered at this time.
In listening to Alderson and Eppler pledge total commitment to Syracuse, it's clear they want to put a winning product in Central New York, and they want to have the best players available in Triple-A. The braintrust at Citi Field has made it clear that who they sign for Syracuse will be the second most important roster they have.
Hired to lead the Syracuse Mets is manager Kevin Boles.
Boles, son of former Florida Marlins manager for parts of four seasons John Boles, has a connection to Utica baseball history. During the 2001 New York-Penn League season, the last for the Utica Blue Sox, it was Boles who skippered the boys at Donovan Stadium at Murnane Field. Utica left the McNamara Division and league in the falls of 2001, and were purchased by Cal Ripken, Jr. who relocated the franchise to Aberdeen, Maryland.
Mets' Director of Minor League Operations Ronny Reyes, also among the panel present for the virtual caravan, believes that Boles is the right guy for the position.
" He's (Boles) a great leader and communicator, and somebody with plenty of experience. Kevin fits all the criteria we were looking for."
Boles, who managed the Mets' Double-A affiliate Binghamton Rumble Ponies in 2019, as manager of the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox in 2014 led his club to the International League's Governors' Cup championship.
Boles' coaching staff includes Joel Chimelis (hitting), Steve Schrenk (pitching), and Jay Pecci (bench).
With Syracuse scheduled for one dozen home games in the month of April, traditionally offering cooler temperatures for baseball, New York Mets' manager Buck Showalter, also signed into the caravan, has no reservations on weather affecting player development during that time.
"It (weather) probably won't be no different than that in New York, If anything, it will be an advantage for our players in Syracuse, as it (weather) will simulate for them what they may face in the big leagues."
With the exciting changes offered from New York for their club in Syracuse, there's definitely a baseball buzz, already, being felt in Central New York.
Syracuse will be holding their annual Open House on March 5 beginning at 10:00 AM. Single-game tickets will go on sale this day, online and in person at the Onondaga Coach Ticket Office at NBT Bank Stadium.
Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter from the Mohawk Valley, now living in Florida. He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980's. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com.