The Houston Astros are about to be sold to new ownership, but that's not the only big change they'll be making in the next couple of years. According to multiple sources, the MLB has told the Astros that any sale of the team will require the team to switch to the American League West in 2013. The Astros have a long history in the NL, starting in 1962, but they are on their way to the DH. This will even out the leagues, giving both the AL and NL fifteen teams each. The AL West, which contains the Rangers, Angels, Mariners, and Athletics, will finally get a fifth team. Additionally, the NL Central will go down to five teams, aligning them with the rest of the MLB.
Although this seems to make sense, there are a lot of things that will change because of this decision. First of all, simple math will tell you that interleague play will be occurring every single day starting in 2013. It may actually even out the playing field, as more teams will play similar schedules to their divisional opponents.
The part that probably bothers me and the Astros the most is the fact that they will be playing 1/3 of their games two time zones away. That will start games at 9:00 Central time for Astro fans. The Texas Rangers have to deal with this every year and you hear little complaint from them, but it is still a factor for TV ratings. The Rangers are probably ecstatic about this move because it puts them close to a divisional opponent and creates a natural state rivalry between the Dallas/Arlington and Houston regions.
The Astros will have to change the dynamic of their team completely, as many of their decisions will have to factor in the switch to the DH. I think it is a huge change for them, because they have always thought that if a guy didn't have a position, they should get rid of him. At the same time, they should be happy that they can start anew somewhere else in the MLB. The Astros have struggled mightily the past few years and really haven't been good since Carlos Beltran left the team 7 years ago. This could give them a boost as an organization and fan base, because it really couldn't get worse than it has been recently.