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Hayden Goethe, Published October 12 2010

Report says 4 teams - including RedHawks - plan to bolt Northern League, but NL commish disputes story

The Ballpark Digest’s website reported Monday that the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and three other teams – Winnipeg, Gary SouthShore and Kansas City – have a “game plan” to move from the Northern League to the American Association.

But the NL’s commissioner described Monday’s fall meetings as informal and disputed the validity of the report.

Clark Griffith said shortly after returning from the meetings in Chicago that he’s familiar with the writer of the story and that the writer “continues to write stuff beneficial to himself.”

No reporter had a byline on the report, which cited “several sources at the ownership level.”

“This is going to work out fine,” Griffith said.

The Forum reported last week that those four teams were mulling a move.

According to the Ballpark Digest story, the remaining four NL teams – Rockford, Lake County, Joliet and Schaumburg – will stay where they are.

One Northern League official says a move by the RedHawks to the AA would significantly impact their roster.

Northern League Director of Baseball Operations Harry Stavrenos said he has told RedHawks owner Bruce Thom that tighter restrictions in the AA on having veterans on the roster would lead to the RedHawks being unable to retain a number of their key players from this past season’s championship team if the club changes leagues.

Stavrenos said he got a call from Thom “a couple weeks ago” asking about the differences in rules between the two leagues regarding the classification of players.

Both leagues classify players based on experience.

According to Stavrenos, the AA allows teams to have 10 players combined who are either veterans, LS-5’s and LS-4’s. Those are the most experienced players on the roster.

While the NL allows teams to have only nine in those classifications, teams can have any mix they choose. In the AA, he said a team can have one LS-5.

Stavrenos also said the salary cap in the AA is $110,000 per team, which is $20,000 less than the Northern League’s salary cap.

He said the combination of differences between classifications and the salary cap would hinder the RedHawks ability to keep such veteran stars as brothers Jesse and Casey Hoorelbeke, Jeremiah Piepkorn, Nic Jackson, Carlo Cota, Alan Rick and T.J. Stanton.

“You take out those guys, and you have a way different looking club in the American Association,” Stavrenos said. “We try to keep the good players in the league as long as possible.

“That’s what I explained to (RedHawks owner) Bruce (Thom).”

Calls placed to Thom and AA Commissioner Miles Wolff were not returned.

Inforum searchword: RedHawks

Readers can reach Forum Assistant Sports Editor

Hayden Goethe at (701) 241-5558