Houston Expected to Move to the American League

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.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Anonymous

    IMO, the Astros moving is good news for the Pirates, that is one less team that they have to beat in an unbalanced division. Because the Astros are down and probably will be down for a while does not mean that they would always be cellar dwellers. The Pirates have to and can beat the best in their division, saying we are small market is a fact, but wanting weak teams in our division is a cop out to me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OGCKUSO5MA5VUCJHW2YSJ2K3TM Bob

    Here we go again, making excuses on why we will have 20 straight losing seasons

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OGCKUSO5MA5VUCJHW2YSJ2K3TM Bob

      You are already giving reasons why we won’t be winners next year and this season isn’t even over, pathetic. 

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KEYHS3XWH74U3LRIHGWL7XPBA Nate

        Bob, try to be a bit more kind in your comments.  If you disagree with an article’s points, or even the underlying premise, it would be appreciated by fellow readers if you framed your comments a bit more kindly.  You can still be critical, but try to avoid words like “pathetic”.

        Just my two cents.  

        • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

          I’ve always been against attacks on other commenters, but I’m not as critical when they’re directed towards me, mostly because I don’t care. I would just prefer actual analysis in the rebuttal. The Pirates went 11-7 against a team that will move out of their division next year. How is this not a bad thing for the team going forward? Why is pointing that fact out considered “pathetic”?

          • Anonymous

            Add in the fact that their new owner is putting a $60M cap on payroll for 2012 (at least), plus the fact that the Astros will most likely trade Rodriguez and/or Myers this offseason, with a splash of fact that their farm’s talent in at least not ready until 2014….that adds up to a bad deal that the Pirates can’t beat up on the Astros past 2012.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1665871765 Marc McClintock

    If Theo Epstein signs players like Carl Crawford & John Lackey for the Cubs, I’ll be really happy! I think Theo benefits from deep pockets as much as Cashman does in NYC. Aren’t the Cubs a financial wreck these days?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Klima/847654241 Scott Klima

    This move should only go through if MLB decides to eliminate the DH rule.  Keeping it would make for unfair matchups for every NL team that would now be playing interleague games all year.  All teams are apart of Major League Baseball, and should be treated as one league with two conferences.  

    As for the Pirates role, having to play more AL teams and fewer matchups with the Astros obviously hurts them.  If they keep the DH rule, the Pirates are in serious trouble.  They won’t spend money on their current lineup and rotation (Maholm and Doumit) let alone an additional DH.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t see why should care about this, as a Pirate fan.  They finished one game out of fifth this year.  They finished last the previous four years.  I can’t get excited about being next to last instead of last.

    The worst part of this move means that inter-league play is here to stay, without a doubt.  I somewhat agree with another poster who wants to get rid of the DH.  Either get rid of it for both leagues or use it all the time in both leagues.  While I don’t have a strong opinion about it, I slightly prefer using it in both leagues.

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