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AAA in A-town

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Marcus Hayes reports in today's Philadelphia Daily News that the Phils' Triple-A affiliation will shift after the 2006 season, leaving Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for Allentown, PA:

After next season, the Phillies are expected to end their affiliation with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after nearly 20 years and move into a new Triple A park that has been approved for construction in Allentown and is scheduled to be completed by 2007.

"Nothing is finalized, but after 2006, we probably won't end up with a working agreement with Scranton," said Mike Arbuckle, the Phillies' assistant general manager in charge of player development.

Craig Stein, owner of the wildly popular Double A Reading Phillies and co-owner of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws with Joe Finley, who also owns the Double A Trenton Thunder, agreed to a 29-year lease on a $34.3 million stadium.

Minor league sources indicated that the Baltimore Orioles affiliate in Ottawa could move into Lackawanna County Stadium, where the SWB Red Barons, the Phillies' Triple A club, have played since it was built in 1989.

This seems like the general trend with minor-league affiliates--get them as close as possible. I've always liked how the Seattle Mariners have their top affiliate in Tacoma, or the Red Sox with their AAA team in Pawtucket. I'm actually a bit surprised that no large market in baseball has done what the Philadelphia Flyers did a few years back, putting their top minor-league team literally down the block. Talk about roster expansion.