It’s been a while since MLB went through another expansion phase. No new teams have entered the sport since the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays came into the leagues in 1998.
That expansion brought the number of major league teams to 30, and as such, it can be said to have been incomplete. The number of teams, while even, still left MLB with a lack of balance in the composition of the leagues. The movement of teams between leagues (Milwaukee to the NL, then the Astros to the AL) tried to accommodate the lack of balance in the league structures and schedules, as did the move to introduce interleague play, but there remains, even to this day, oddities that no amount of jiggering with the division formats, unbalanced schedules, and expanded playoffs have been able to smooth out.
Baseball in Harlem: How about something more than a cameo appearance?
So another expansion, which could bring the number of teams up to a far more workable total of 32, might seem like a good idea. The sport–despite doomsaying from the short-sighted–is thriving, thanks to aggressive programs of stadium building, strong marketing efforts, some wise negotiating on both sides of the labor table, and intelligent utilization of digital media to maximize the fans’ experience.
That brings us to the obvious question: where would you put two more teams if you expand MLB today? There are a number of candidates out there for one of the two putative teams, but there’s one market that everyone seems to agree should get another team (even if everyone also says it’s impossible to place a team there for territorial reasons). Let’s, as they say, “start spreading the news.”
Continue reading A Case For The Uptown Nine
Gilding The Chrysanthemum
So the Los Angeles Dodgers went out and acquired Yu Darvish from the Texas Rangers, apparently as a response to the Clayton Kershaw injury.
Yu Darvish: the Dodgers’ answer, but was there really a question?
Most of the talking heads said they needed to make that move. One wonders what season those babblers have been watching lately, because they’re quite wrong. The Dodgers didn’t need to pick up Darvish–they just did it because they could, and as likely as not, they did it to keep him away from the rest of the competition.
They’re not likely to regret the move, but there may be one small downside to the trade: a boost to expectations that were already sky high…which could upset their balance and lead to major disappointment down the road. Continue reading Gilding The Chrysanthemum
It’s Now Very Sonny in Yankee Stadium
Baseball fans, you can be forgiven if a wave of nostalgia swept over you Monday afternoon.
It used to be that the New York Yankees always plucked up the best talent via a trade with lesser, poorer teams around the league. Their dynasties of the past were built on such transactions. In particular, the Athletics franchise–in Philly or KC–often served as an unofficial farm team for the Bronx Bombers; that’s how they got Roger Maris, for instance, to keep the good times rolling out of the ’50s and into the ’60s.
Sonny Gray: New York’s happy day…and more to come
Apparently, the good old days have returned to Gotham. With the Yanks acquiring Sonny Gray in a
fleecing trade with the Oakland A’s, not only has the team set itself up to get better and make a run this year, but they’ll almost certainly have Gray to anchor the top of their rotation for many years to come.
Continue reading It’s Now Very Sonny in Yankee Stadium
Caveat Emptor, Baseball Edition
The buzzer is about to sound on major league baseball’s trade deadline, and there are a few things worth noting–hopefully ahead of the curve–before things really start to go down.
Jeff Samardzija: contenders must beware swimming with this Shark
First, as noted in this space just last week, the Kansas City Royals were the best bet to be active in the wheeling and dealing–and they already have been. In addition to picking up Trevor Cahill in a deal last week, the Royals have now also gone out and gotten Melky Cabrera from the White Sox. That means they’ve acquired both an arm and a bat–exactly the prescription written for them in last week’s piece. KC is the team most likely to benefit from adding parts to the roster in my analysis, so expect them to be playing in October, especially if they complete a deal for another arm for the rotation, as is being rumored (Francisco Liriano is on the block in Toronto, and Kansas City might be the buyers). Continue reading Caveat Emptor, Baseball Edition
As we rapidly approach MLB’s trade deadline, the two leagues could not look more different, at least as far as the standings go.
In the National League, the West and East are all but wrapped up, even with the Nats and Dodgers seeing injuries hit the pitching staffs in the persons of Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw, respectively. Only the Central remains wide open; even the Wild Card is looking firm for the Rockies and Diamondbacks…for the moment.
Andrew McCutchen: Can he make the Pirates upwardly-mobile, or will he need some help?
And then, over in the American League, everything except the West is wide open. If your preferred team is not leading the Central or East right now, just wait a few days–they’ll probably reach the top before you know it, and then quickly sink back into the very crowded field of contenders.
Two teams, one in each league, are of particular interest. Both teams have been making a push this last week, ascending the ladders in their respective Central divisions rapidly and making it seem, at least for the moment, like they have a shot at real contention in both the regular season and the playoffs. One of them, the Kansas City Royals, looks like a decent bet to be playing in October. The Pittsburgh Pirates, on the other hand, probably still have a long way to go.
Continue reading On Royalty and Piracy