Like their recent New York-Penn League move to State College, this match is a re-run of a past partnership. The Cardinals and Chiefs shared a 10-year affiliation from 1995-2004. That included 2002, when the Chiefs won their lone Midwest League Championship, and playoff clubs in 1996, 1998 and 2004. Earlier, the Cardinals had a three-year minor league presence in the Illinois town from 1954-56.
"We are extremely pleased to have a new four-year affiliation in place with the Chiefs and the Peoria community," said Cardinals' Senior Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak. "We know how Peoria and Central Illinois represent a big part of what "Cardinals Nation" is all about and that the Chiefs run a first-class operation that will only enhance our player development efforts."
"We are excited to be returning to Peoria," stated Cardinals' Farm Director John Vuch. "The Midwest League has tremendous tradition and we are pleased to remain a part of it."
The Chiefs' motivation for a change could be as simple as wanting to see more winning baseball. As a Cubs affiliate since 2005, the Chiefs had an overall losing record at 549-559. They made the playoffs just twice in eight years, losing in the first round both times.
The Bandits' time with St. Louis was far more productive. The Cardinals had an overall record of 587-515 (.533) in Quad Cities. They reached the MWL playoffs five times in eight years, including two of the last three seasons, and brought home the 2011 title.
The Cardinals currently have three players on their Major League roster that played for Peoria: Yadier Molina (2002), Jason Motte (2003) and Kyle McClellan (2004). Other future major leaguers who competed in the Cardinals organization in Peoria include Albert Pujols, Danny Haren, Rick Ankiel, Placido Polanco, Coco Crisp and Chris Duncan.
The River Bandits remain in the MWL and are likely to re-align with either the Angels, Astros or Athletics. All three organizations are also affiliation free agents.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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