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Houston Astros Reportedly Will Move To American League; What Are Implications For N.L. Central?

Peter Gammons reports that the rumors about the Houston Astros potentially moving to the American League are about to come true, with the league approving the move in November. The switch would allow the Astros to develop a natural rivalry with the Texas Rangers.

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There are two ways of looking at this. One is that there are two teams that finished below the Pirates in the standings in 2011, and one (the Chicago Cubs) is getting a spiffy new GM (Theo Epstein), and the other is potentially leaving.

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That said, while the Cubs' addition of Epstein is pretty unambiguously bad news for the Pirates, the Astros' departure isn't, necessarily. True, the Pirates will play fewer games against a team that is currently really bad, but other teams in the division will too. And there's no guarantee that the Astros will be bad forever, particularly given that their ownership is changing (the meddling of old Astros owner Drayton McLane was a major impediment to their getting better) and the size of their payroll. The simplest way of looking at this move is that it would reduce the number of teams in the Pirates' division from six to five. I think that's mostly a good thing.

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For more on the Astros, check out Crawfish Boxes.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.