The Pecos League ended some speculation about the future of the Las Cruces Vaqueros team. Citing poor local support, the league has decided to make the Vaqueros (and its stadium used in recent years) as the hub for a developmental league to operate during the summer for prospective independent professional baseball players. The Pecos League will replace the Vaqueros with the returning Carlsbad Bats, a team which may have a few “home” games and play the rest of the season on the road.
The Vaqueros were one of two Continental Baseball League teams to form the Pecos League after the CBL folded in 2010, the other being the Big Bend Cowboys (renamed the Alpine Cowboys when they joined the Pecos League). The 2012 Vaqueros manager, Casey Dill, will manage the new Las Vegas (NM) Train Robbers.
Here is the official announcement, used with permission from the Pecos League:
The Carlsbad Bats have replaced the Las Cruces Vaqueros on the schedule for the 2013 season. With The San Diego Padres moving into El Paso with their AAA Team in 2014 it is going to be very hard for the Las Cruces to have a Professional Team in Independent Baseball within the radius of a AAA affiliated market. This is a big move for the Pecos League leaving New Mexico’s second largest city for Carlsbad. But small towns have been great for the Pecos League model and mid market suburban towns like Pueblo and Las Cruces have not. El Paso and Las Cruces are excited about the 2014 season when the San Diego Padres are moving their AAA team into downtown El Paso. They will play in a state of the art 50+ million dollar stadium. Moving a team to Carlsbad with launch an array of schedule changes in the Southern Division as Las Cruces had setup its traditional home and home with Alamogordo. The Las Cruces Vaqueros will be the anchor city of the Pecos Developmental League. This move is a real curveball to Vaquero fans as the Vaqueros had their best year ever and Apodoca Park is one of the best ballparks in the league.
Statement from Andrew Dunn of the Pecos League
“There are three separate issues here:
Las Cruces Vaqueros in Pro Ball, Developmental League and Carlsbad Bats.
“LAS CRUCES VAQUEROS IN PRO BALL-With The San Diego Padres moving into El Paso with their AAA Team in 2014 it is going to be very hard for the Las Cruces Vaqueros to have a team in Independent Baseball within the radius of a AAA affiliated market. The Pecos League was formed with Las Cruces as one of the anchor cities. In 2014 neither the Vaqueros or El Paso Diablos stand a chance to go head to head with the El Paso Padres in the Pacific Coast League. Apodoca Park is 40 miles to downtown El Paso. The Padres will logically take sponsors, fans and support from the Vaqueros in a large scale. They are building a state of the art stadium in downtown El Paso that will be one of the best in the Pacific Coast League AAA Baseball. (The same league as ABQ Isotopes and Colorado Springs Skysox). The Vaqueros were the founding members of the Pecos League and the only team from remaining from the Continental Baseball League remaining in the Pecos League. The Vaqueros had their best year ever on the field and with attendence. But in the Pecos League the Las Cruces Vaqueros were dead last in sponsors and attendance in 2011 and 2012 despite having a great team in 2012. The Vaqueros also have one of the best ballparks in the league in Apodoca Park. The Ballpark renovations were amazing to fans and league but made no difference to sponsors. When I was recruited to bring a team here in the Continental League in 2009 I was promised a lot of things that never happened. I was assured a level of support and demand for a team that didn’t exist. The business community never supported this from day 1. The sponsorship dollars aren’t here. Fans want local, local, local.”
“DEVELOPMENTAL LEAGUE: With the Expansion of the Pecos League to 10 teams it is necessary to have a developmental league. It is difficult to get players in and out of New Mexico quickly. After doing extensive research and having many cities wanting to host the developmental league Las Cruces was clearly the place to host it. The Ballpark in Las Cruces is the best in the league and housing in the Summer is easily available. The level of play will be good and the Vaqueros will be alive. It was the only city that had a major airport which is important. We are able to keep baseball in Las Cruces and give the fans what they want to see. They want to see local players now they will have them living in Las Cruces the entire month of June. They will get to see New Mexico School of Baseball’s team eight times. We will also get to host the Desert Valley Mountain Lions and Bisbee Arizona Ironmen.
The Pecos Developmental League is the official Developmental League for the Pecos League it will future two teams both based in Las Cruces. The Las Cruces Vaqueros and the Desert Valley Mountain Lions. The teams will play each other and College Summer Teams from Arizona from June 4 to June 30. It will give teams an option to have a place for rehab players and to test unknown players. Also rookies and free agents a place to get their foot in the door.”
“CARLSBAD: The Pecos League has a third West Texas City ready to join the league in 2014. Due to ballpark issues they won’t be ready until 2014. The Pecos League has many cities attempting to get a team in their town from Southern Colorado to West Texas and all New Mexico Points in between. Carlsbad makes much better geographical and financial sense for 2013 with the cost of hotels in oilfield cities of Roswell and Pecos. The Bats will play limited amount of home games similar to Taos. The initial feedback from Carlsbad has been good. We are still working on the Carlsbad Team. We would like to play 15 homes games to generate revenue similar to the Taos Blizzard. We may also play in Hobbs or Artesia. As everyone learned in 2011, an unpaid travel team has no chance playing against professional paid players. Quality players won’t play for free. Carlsbad went 9-58 in 2011 and hurt attendence with other teams. ”
The biggest winners in this move is the New Mexico School of Baseball, Bisbee Ironmen and Alpine 06 Cowboys. They now have two teams within 180 miles which will cut their expense budget drastically. The Cowboys have been huge winners from the first day of 2012 winning the Pecos League Championship and having the Pecos League move into Pecos Texas. The Cowboys are very excited with possiblity of three West Texas Teams in 2014. Financially this is huge savings for Roswell, Alpine and Pecos Texas. The big loser here is Alamogordo where the Pupfish went from being the Hub of the league to the leagues most isolated city in a matter of two months. In 2011 the Pupfish fans loved scheduling trips to Las Cruces where they almost always outnumbered Vaqueros Fans despite being the road team. Reaction from Vaqueros supporters:
Darrell Carrillo: New Mexico School of Baseball “Disappointing that Las Cruces couldn’t support a team, sad. I am excited to playing against the developmental teams”
Bill Moore: “The city of Las Cruces was a flagship city of the Pecos League. I don’t know what happened to the flag or the ship but neither are left. When we played Casey and the Vaqueros last year we had more players on the field between the two teams than fans in the stands. A sad story and a great playing surface.”
Alpine 06 Cowboys Manager Ryan Stevens says: “This is the best move in the history of the Pecos League. I think the more teams in West Texas the better. The facilities are great, the city is excited and I don’t know why this wasn’t thought of earlier. I am sorry to see Las Cruces go but I am excited to have three teams in West Texas in the League. We have been missing the West Texas side of the West Texas/New Mexico Baseball League.”
Ernie Munoz White Sands Pupfish-“I have loved playing there for three years, it is a great surface. It is far the best field in the league. The only bad thing about Carlsbad is the CB means losing. Whether it is Coastal Baseball or Carlsbad it has bad name…You know when you the CB you, you are going to beat them.”
Vaqueros 2012 Manager and current Las Vegas Manager Casey Dill: “I really enjoyed my time in Las Cruces. Our players loved the ballpark and we had a great record at home. The problem with Las Cruces compared to the other cities is the key business leaders in the community don’t support the team. In other cities in the Pecos League there are key business leaders and civic individuals behind their teams. In Las Cruces all we had was our host families, people don’t know about the Vaqueros and they don’t care. Definitely not a sports town. The key financial ingredients to have a successful professional baseball team aren’t here. I am very excited to be back in the Pecos League in Las Vegas and invite all of you Vaquero Fans to be Train Robber fans. We have similar colors and will be a fun team again this year. The Pecos League stepped in last year and did the best job they could with very little support. Our players love the field and the town but it will be great to get better support this year. I also think the groundskeeping rules were excessive we got kicked off a field in Spring Training for wearing spikes. The Pecos League has never been better go Train Robbers!”
Trinidad Manager JD Droddy: “Las Cruces doesn’t support baseball or the Vaqueros. The Vaqueros had a great team last year and you could count the fans. I think the Pecos League should have eliminated the Vaqueros and went with 8 teams. It doesn’t affect us in the North very much but in the South it really makes things interesting. I hope Carlsbad isn’t a bunch of free wins like they were in 2011.”
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