The Astros Move To The AL West

Sunday  October 30, 2011

MLB reports – Sam Evans:  As an amazing 2011 MLB postseason has come to a close, it’s time to look ahead to next year. The Houston Astros have been,” looking forward to the next year,” since the last time they made the playoffs in 2006. It’s time for a change in Houston and Bud Selig and Jim Crane are currently working on a plan to make a big-time change for baseball’s future in Houston.

Times have been hard recently for Astros fans. Widely considered the worst team in baseball, the Astros home attendance has steadily decreased every year since 2006. They haven’t had a winning season since 2008 and their minor league system shows only small glimmers of hope on the way.

In the middle of June, rumors began  floating around that the Astros would move to the American League, as early as the 2013 season. This would provide each league with an even fifteen teams and six five team divisions. Also, you have to think that Major League Baseball wants to start a rivalry between the Astros and the Rangers. Well now in October, these rumors have become more serious and now it appears inevitable that the Astros will be realigned to the American League West.

Although we don’t know when exactly this move will take place,we have figured out that it will happen. It will be interesting to see if the Astros shop for a DH this or next offseason because if they do move by 2013, having nine Major League quality hitters in their lineup would be a big asset. It would make sense for them to bring back Carlos Lee if they were indeed moving to the AL, because he would be a much more productive DH than an outfielder.

I actually think that this would be a good move both for MLB and for the Astros. For MLB, they finally fix the glaring trivia answer which is, why there is an uneven number of teams in each league.  Balanced divisions, until increased to 32 Major League teams by way of expansion, will lead to an unbalanced schedule.  15 teams per league means that there will need to be an interleague game scheduled every week.  Some love the concept of interleague play, while other detest it.  But for whatever people think of it, interleague is here to stay in the world of Major League Baseball.  Having weekly interleague match-ups will actually help solve the unbalanced interleague issue.  In current play, some fans have complained that the same interleague match-ups are in place every year- with not all teams from each of the different leagues matching up.  Having weekly interleague games means that all AL and NL teams will face-off during the season at some point.  Greater exposure for each of the teams in each MLB city should lead to greater enthusiasm for the fans and a more balanced approach to scheduling interleague games.  It is not a perfect system- far from it.  But until Major League Baseball brings in 2 more teams and creates a 16/16 league split, having the 15/15 split will at least allow for balanced divisions and equal chances to make the playoffs.

For the Astros, I seriously believe they could start one of the best rivalries in baseball with the Rangers. This would be beneficial not only for the Astros as an organization, but their fans and attendance as well. Let’s make one thing clear though in the interim: the current “rivalry” between the Astros and Rangers is a joke. The ony time they face off is in interleague games, and neither team has any more incentives in those games as compared to any other games. However, I think if they actually played each other as division rivals frequently, and the fans became passionate about those games, then they could actually start a strong rivalry for years to come.

Astros fans have been against this move for two main reasons. The first is that they would lose their history with the National League (and specifically, NL Central teams). The main reason however, is that they would play West Coast teams more, which would mean that games against Seattle, Oakland, and Anaheim would start at a later time. I can fully understand and appreciate the Astros fans feelings on the subject. The only counterexample I can offer is what Rangers fans already go through with this same dilemma and they same to have done just fine.

At the end of the day, I think the Astros should move to the American League West. It makes sense for the current MLB system. Furthermore, this franchise looks in need of a fresh start and maybe a new division could help provide that.

Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter.

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About samevans87

I love writing, talking, watching, and playing baseball. I am a baseball writer for MLB Reports and Fish Stripes. "No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined." -Paul Gallic

Posted on October 30, 2011, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. “Some love the concept of interleague play, while other detest it. But for whatever people think of it, interleague is here to stay in the world of Major League Baseball.”

    Count me among the latter – a skeptic of yet one more change pursued for short term dollars at the expense of the greater integrity and tradition of the game. But I realize that money – money right *now* – is the sole guiding criterion that MLB uses to make these decisions.

    The exasperating disadvantage of daily interleague play is that it would ratchet up even more the disintegration of differences between the leagues – and the drawing power of the World Series and the All Star Game, which have long depended on the unique fact that they each provided rare opportunities to see AL and NL players face off against one another. One of the intriguing story lines in the Cards-Rangers World Series was that these teams had met only once before – an interleague series several years ago.

    It’s true, of course, that these league differences have been steadily eviscerated by MLB – the elimination of the formal league offices and presidents, the consolidation of the umpires, the advent of free agency, and now, of course, the advent of interleague play. It’s also true that some – some – interleague series draw well at the box office. But MLB seems unwilling to face the risk that expanding interleague even more will not only water down the attraction of its other events (WS and All Star Game) but even water down what little lure interleague play itself has. Why bother having leagues at all?

    At any rate, this seems like an unnecessarily heavy-handed fix for a relatively minor problem. The only apparent disadvantage is to NL Central teams, who have to overcome five rather than four other teams; but then the NL Central has more than its share of perennially bad teams with middling payrolls – it’s not hard to be competitive in the NL Central. But if we really want equal sized divisions – and we can’t add two more teams yet (the obvious solution) – why not go back to two divisions each, i.e., West and East divisions of seven (AL) and eight (NL) teams each? Losing playoff spots does not have to happen, as you could simply add another Wild Card. Indeed, if Bud really is serious about expanding the Wold Card, this could be quite opportunity in this setup: Have four wild cards in each league, and have them play each other in one game sudden death playoffs. That would be four sudden death games on the weekend after the season ends, which would be a big broadcast draw. And it would also give a greater advantage to the division winners, as they would *all* face wild card teams that had to burn their best available pitchers to make the LDS series.

  2. You have some really good points and ideas. It’s a shame to think that MLB would have to compromise the history and integrity of the game to make short-term money but with attendances at all-time lows and the way the economy is, it might be the only option. I disagree with anything that involves one game playoffs. Despite the great ratings and people it would draw in, i just don’t think it’s fair to the teams that played 162 to get to that point. I mean if the Astros beat the Yankees, it obviously doesn’t mean the Astros are the better team and i just think that the playoffs are all about finding the best, strongest team. Thanks for the comment!
    -Sam

  3. Hello Sameyans,

    Fair point. But the obvious response is: Take care of business in your division, and you won’t have to worry about a sudden death playoff.

    The sudden death playoff games that Selig is apparently already considering actually could reward the inherent advantage that the 162 game season presents – it gives a greater advantage to those teams that achieved the best records over that long time frame.

    As things stand now, if you’re the Philadelphia Phillies, and you won 102 games and your division in a romp – you took care of business over a grueling 162 game schedule – all you get to show for that is an extra home playoff game, assuming of course your LDS series even goes to five games. And I say all that as a die-hard Cardinals fan, by the way.

    The trend has been to make the MLB playoffs more and more like those of the NFL or NHL – an effective tournament where everyone is on a largely level playing field, homefield edge notwithstanding. But that format makes less sense for MLB, which has such a long grueling season to better determine who the best teams are. In the NFL, the difference between a nine game winner and a ten could be a bounce of a ball or a bad yardage spot. The equivalent in baseball is ten wins – about three or four series worth. That’s a real difference.

  4. you took care of business over a grueling 162 game schedule – all you get to show for that is an extra home playoff game, assuming of course your LDS series even goes to five games. And I say all that as a die-hard Cardinals fan, by the way.

    gurjeet

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