Phew. Now that we've gotten past the title, I'm happy to bring you the Q&A I had with Mike Vander Woude, who can be followed on twitter @vwoude.
Brandon C -Regarding rehab appearances, how much of a help in terms of attendance is it when a player comes down to AAA to rehab? Will the moving of the team to multiple home stadiums affect the ability to get players to AAA to rehab?
Mike Vander Woude- I think a rehab does help attendance. It's always great from a team standpoint to have a big time name at the stadium even if it is for only a handful of games. We had Alex Rodriguez at PNC Field in 2011, which was a really big deal for us. I don't think the location of our "home games" in 2012 is going to have a big impact. Even though we'll be spread out with our locations, if there is a need for us to host a rehab player the Yankees have shown in the past they will send us players whether we're at home or on the road. Due to its proximity to New York , Trenton has gotten a lot of rehab players as well and I certainly wouldn't see any reason for that to change.
BC: What are your thoughts on the rebranding of the AAA Yankees team?
MVW: The " Empire State " Yankees is a one year moniker. The team is and will continue to be known as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, from our radio broadcasts to all of our press releases, game stories, etc... The teams in upstate New York ( Rochester , Syracuse , Buffalo and Batavia ) have really stepped up in a huge way to help us out with the 2012 season. With 84 of our 144 games in upstate New York , the moniker will help them out from marketing and a ticketing stand point and will hopefully help from an attendance standpoint.
MVW: The great part about that question is Scranton/Wilkes Barre had both pitchers in 2011 and should have both again in 2012, so I won't have to choose, I'll get to see them both. Both Phelps and Warren have tremendous upsides, are great competitors and will both be Major League pitchers sooner rather than later.
Follow me after the jump for more!BC: Who is the greatest player you have ever seen play for the AAA Yankees?
MVW: Based on the shear numbers that he put up and what kind of a player he was in the clubhouse and how the fans responded to him I would have to say Shelley Duncan. He won the IL MVP in 2009, hitting .277 with 30 HR and 99 RBI's. You had the feeling that season that any time he came up to the plate that something amazing was going to happen. You had the same sort of feeling when Jesus Montero came up to the plate over the last two seasons as well. You didn't want to turn away from the field becuase you may miss something special.
BC: Regarding the play of minor leaguers, how does it differ from the MLB? Are players as motivated? More motivated? Are there rivalries/intense games?
MVW: I think the biggest difference with the Major Leagues and this level is consistency. At least that's what the scouts I ask tell me. The players in Triple-A can do the same thing as the Major Leaguer's do from a talent stand point. The big difference the Major League guys can repeat the task with more consistency than the minor league guys do. I don't think there is ever an issue with motivation.
If you're in Triple-A you're either trying to get to the Majors for the first time or if you've already been there, you're trying to get back. I can't speak for the players as far as what they think may or may not be rivalries, but for the fans (and announcers) I think the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Phillies) and the Pawtucket Red Sox (Red Sox) always seem to matter a little more.
BC: Dave Miley has managed the heck out of the AAA Yankees in past years. Tony Franklin has managed the heck out of the AA Thunder as well. What's the life of a minor league manager like, considering the lack of control over the roster? Does Miley seem to enjoy the job?
MVW: I think a "day in the life" question would be better answered by each of those guys. I can't begin to accurately describe the ins and outs of their jobs. I do know having spent the last four seasons with Dave Miley is how great of a clubhouse presence he is. I have known Dave since he was managing in the Cincinnati organization and I was broadcasting in Dayton for one of the Reds Minor League affiliates.
He always came across to me as a guy who knows his players and knows what buttons to push to get the most out of the group he has in the clubhouse. As far as "lack of control" over the roster, I can't answer to that. I do know that he has daily conversations (or at least almost daily) with both Tampa and New York regarding SWB and what the players there are doing. In my 17 years in baseball he is as good a manager as I have been around.
Thanks again to Mike for the answers, and make sure to follow him on twitter!