Outgoing owner Drayton McLane confirms that the Houston Astros will move from the N.L. Central to the A.L. West in 2013. The move had been in the works for a while. In addition to evening the divisions (the N.L. Central had six teams, the A.L. Central four), the move will allow the Astros and the Texas Rangers to develop a rivalry.â†µ
This is mostly a good move for the Pirates. While it's true that they'll be losing a divisional rival that will likely be a bad team for a few years, that really only negatively impacts their playoff chances for the Wild Card, because other N.L. Central teams would get the benefit of playing a bad team as well. And the Astros, who usually have a reasonably high payroll, probably won't be bad forever. Having fewer teams in the division should increase the Pirates' chances of making the playoffs in the long run.
Also, the Pirates have never had much of a rivalry with the Astros anyway. N.L. Central play started in 1994, just after the beginning of the Pirates lengthy streak of losing seasons. There's really no geographical connection between Houston and Pittsburgh, either, so the Bucs and other N.L. Central teams (like the Reds) will have to make a couple fewer long flights south each year.â†µ
For more on the Astros, check out Crawfish Boxes.â†µ