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Syracuse is New Nats' Class AAA Affiliate

Well, it's official. Syracuse and Washington are a match. Earlier today, the 24-person board that governs the Syracuse Chiefs voted unanimously to approve a two-year affiliation with the Nats. The decision formally ends the Chiefs' 31-year relationship with the Toronto Blue Jays and opens the doors for Washington, which needed a new Class AAA affiliate after losing the rights to Columbus.

This deal also keeps the Nats' Class AAA affiliate in the International League, as the team had hoped.

On Thursday, Washington's brass (owner Mark Lerner, President Stan Kasten and GM Jim Bowden) flew up to Syracuse to check out the facilities, ask questions and try to make their pitch. The Marlins visited Syracuse today, but didn't make anywhere near the same impression, and the vote happened immediately thereafter.

"Washington makes sense for us," said John Simone, the Chiefs' GM.

Simone said that Syracuse particularly liked Washington's minor league system, and how the organization had rebuilt it since getting "pillaged" by Major League Baseball at the end of the Montreal era. The talent that's coming through the system now, Simone said, suggests good things for the Chiefs.

"Washington might be good soon," Simone joked, "but I'm pretty sure we're going to be better before you are."

Simone also acknowledged that the Mets were always Syracuse's top choice. But the Mets picked Buffalo -- a decision that will likely be made official on Monday.

"The Mets were our top choice, and Jim and Stan understood that," Simone said. "Because we're in New York. Jim understood that if there was a second choice, he wanted to be that one. The Mets didn't want to come here, so we're looking forward to working with them."

By Chico Harlan  |  September 20, 2008; 2:27 PM ET
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Next: Tonight's lineup


Works for me. Anything but Vegas. Don't make those young arms pitch at altitude.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | September 20, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Geography ruled their decision. They wanted a team in the northeast; that nixed the Marlins.

Posted by: ohplease | September 20, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Best case scenario - staying in the International League was important. Long-term, ownership really ought to focus on landing either Richmond or Norfolk, but since that's going to require an incredible amount of effort/money, I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

That's great. Another excuse to visit my sister and family. Time to get a fitted SkyChiefs cap.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | September 20, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

That's good news!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 20, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Triple A, can someone explain to me why Leonard Davis isn't being called up to see what he can do in left? I love Willie, but he is just simply not a good enough hitter to be part of our future there. Davis, 24, hit .308 with 25 HRs and a .930 OPS in the minors. He's already proven himself down there. Call him up!

Posted by: Jason | September 20, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I was surprised Davis didn't get a call-up too. Best guess is that w/ Harris and Langerhans plus casto, Bernadina he wasn't going to get enough time for it to be worth starting his clock. I bet he gets a long look in ST though as a potential 5th OFer.

Posted by: estuartj | September 20, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Did you see Davis' numbers in Columbus? Plus did you see where Davis played in Columbus? I don't think the Nats know where to play Leonard

Posted by: Tom | September 20, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

CF Will Venable
2B Edgar Gonzalez
RF Brian Giles
1B Adrian Gonzalez
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff
LF Chase Headley
C Nick Hundley
SS Sean Kazmar
P Chris Young

2B Emilio Bonifacio
SS Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Elijah Dukes
1B Aaron Boone
LF Willie Harris
C Wil Nieves
CF Rober Bernadina
P John Lannan

Posted by: Lineups R Us | September 20, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Hail to the Chiefs! I think this is excellent news indeed. Sure, they wanted the Mets first, same as we all want Richmond. But for those who were concerned (not without reason) that we were such a laughingstock that nobody would want to deal with us, well, this is a nice vote of confidence to the contrary, and a vote in favor of the plan. Kudos to the Nats for sending in the A-Team and closing the deal.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 20, 2008 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Go Nats! Fry the Friars!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 20, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Let's see if we can use those two years in Syracuse to work something out with Richmond. With the consolidation of minor league teams around big league teams, it would be great to have the Nat's AAA team in Richmond.

Posted by: Chris | September 20, 2008 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Yeah we're sloppy seconds.

Posted by: Count Demoney | September 20, 2008 10:20 PM | Report abuse

One thing everyone's forgetting: The Richmond Braves are moving to the Atlanta suburbs for next season. Richmond will probably get a double-A or single-A team, but for the Nats to have our AAA there, we would need to get a current team to relocate. And with the stadium that's down there, that would be no easy task.

Posted by: MNewman | September 21, 2008 12:46 AM | Report abuse

As a native Syracusan, I was horrified (but not surprised) to see in the Nats Notebook this morning that the Chiefs' GM said they were thrilled to go from "the capital of Canada to the capital of the United States," or something like that.

Uhh, the capital of Canada is Ottawa, not Toronto.

Posted by: John O. | September 21, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Curse you John O!! I logged in here just to make fun of that comment. 31 yr relationship with the Blue Jays, and he doesn't know that Ottawa is Canada's capital?

I understand that you can see Canada across Lake Ontario. And yet, somehow, folks in Syracuse aren't expert enough in international relations to know which city actually has Canada's federal government.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 21, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

How far is Syracuse from Cooperstown? I have to look. It might be nice one summer to see a minor league game and then go to the Hall!

Posted by: CALSGR8 | September 21, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

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