The idea of realignment in baseball has been floated around often, of late. And quite frankly, it is nonsense.
Not that it is nonsense, in the sense that it couldn’t happen. But that it is not needed. The reason one considers the divisions being shifted, mixed and jolted, is because of the more urgent issue: The Salary cap.
Major League Baseball would be trying to correct one problem, that is created because of another problem. Why not just correct the first problem?
Well, it isn’t that easy. I understand that. The players will not give in without a fight, as they don’t want to lose out on having sushi seven nights a week.
I kid, I kid.
But seriously, the players will obviously fight it, as they will take the hit financially.
But the reason, that say, The Orioles, need to change divisions, at least in some people’s eyes, is because they cannot compete with the Red Sox and Yankees. But this is because the Red Sox and Yankees have a load of money to spend, helping them (Not ensuring necessarily) find success.
The Orioles of course have money to spend, so I don’t really feel bad for them. But when compared to the top payrolls in the game, they still fall well short.
Now, before I go any further, I must address the Rays. The Rays are an example, in this particular division, that happen to have a small payroll and have competed in recent years. They have competed, that is a fact. Even won a division merely two seasons ago.
But they will run out of resources eventually. As great as their system is now, they will eventually run out of great, upcoming talent. The Red Sox and Yankees and can hide behind those “dry runs.” But the Rays won’t be able to. They will not always have Desmond Jennings’ waiting in the wings when Carl Crawford’s are about to leave. They can make all the right decisions they want, but drafting lower, and sheer luck will hinder their ability to have a monstrous farm system at all times.
And trust me, their system will get worse. And then it may get better again, but it WILL get worse.
The Red Sox don’t need to have a player waiting, although it is most logical to have this route as an option. As much emphasis as they do, and should put on having a strong farm, they don’t need it to be as strong all the time, as smaller market teams do.
If they were to lose a Carl Crawford, they can go get another player that is close to his talent. Whether it be at the same position, or at another position of need.
The Yankees can do the same thing, with even more ease.
So back to the subject at hand…Rather than shift all the divisions around, compromising even the smallest of rivalries, simply implement some kind of spending limit. It doesn’t have to be a number that is accessible by EVERY team. But it has to protect other teams from having to deal with the outliers.
For example, around $150 million would be a good “cap” for 2009. And eventually, teams will feel more comfortable throwing more money at players, if they know they won’t be blown out of the water by large market teams. With inflation, the “Cap” would go up, of course. But that is inflation, as we know, not anything of the unfair sort.
Moving the Orioles out of the AL East is not the right decision. Nor is it right to move anyone else around unless they are being moved because of their geography or whatever. Fix the more important issue, and this “realignment” issue, given time, will fix itself.