We’ve heard the rumors for awhile now that Major League Baseball could be set for realignment, and that Houston could play a big part in that. Peter Gammons is reporting that Houston’s ownership change is expected to go through in mid-November, and that it is expected to include a move to the American League.
Earlier today we heard that Theo Epstein had accepted a deal with the Chicago Cubs to be their new General Manager. That move, plus the realignment of the Astros, makes the NL Central a much tougher division for a small market team like the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In 2011, the Astros and Cubs finished under the Pirates in the standings. The Pirates finished with a combined 19-15 record against the two teams, and that might have been better if they would have avoided the four game sweep against the Cubs in August. Neither team has done much to try and built through the draft, and both teams were getting older, with expensive players that were making too much for their declining productions.
I mentioned earlier how the Cubs could benefit from Epstein. With the money they can spend, and Epstein’s competence in the GM role, we shouldn’t expect the team to be as bad as they were in 2011. As for the Astros, they probably won’t see an immediate turn around, but the move to the American League means that the Pirates miss out on about 16-18 games a year against one of the worst teams in the league.
Let’s be realistic here. Major League Baseball isn’t a balanced league. I mentioned this last week when talking about Moneyball. We ignore the fact that MLB is imbalanced, and focus on things like Moneyball, or small market teams spending big in the draft, acting as if those things level the playing field. This still ignores the fact that MLB is imbalanced. The Pirates are a small market team. MLB is designed to favor big market teams. Today the worst team in the division moved to the American League, and the second worst team made a big GM hiring. That’s not good for a small market team like the Pirates, especially with the odds already stacked against them.
That’s not saying it’s impossible for the Pirates to compete. It just means it’s that much harder.