A few new nuggets were cleared up at the end of the American Association meetings in Grand Prairie, TX Wednesday although the primary news was the official addition of the four teams from the Northern League that we told subscribers about in our Independent Baseball Insider column last week. What we learned Wednesday:
**There will be three divisions in the 14-team league in 2011 with newcomers Fargo, ND and Winnipeg, CA joining St. Paul, MN and Sioux Falls, SD in one grouping and Gary, IN and Kansas City, KS joining holdovers Lincoln, NE, Sioux City, IA and Wichita, KS in a five-team bracket. These two divisions mean some of the rivalries that existed prior to 2006 when the American Association was formed will resume. Southern holdovers Pensacola, FL, Shreveport-Bossier, LA and the three Texas franchises in El Paso, Fort Worth and Grand Prairie continue to make up the other division.
**The schedule will increase from 96 to 100 games, which the Northern League had this season.
**The salary cap will increase, with reports varying on what the total will be.
It seems likely the American Association rule which requires a minimum of five rookies on each team will be retained. The NL only required four. Playoffs also need to be ironed out although a logical step would match the three divisional champions and a wild card unless the league wants more than four teams to qualify. That would not be unreasonable even though some teams look at being in the postseason as taking more drain on team finances.
Northern League Commissioner Clark Griffith is quoted in one report that the veteran circuit will continue even though it is down to four teams at this point.