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Thursday, November 17, 2011
The Astro Effect

By Mark Saxon

Get the Houston Astros jokes out of your system, Angels fans.

If you haven't heard by now, the Astros are joining the AL West. Is this a good thing or a bad thing for the Angels? Depends on your time horizon.

For a year or two, the Angels can probably count on a few more wins per year against a team that lost 106 games last season. Coupled with the extra wild-card berth, that might means the Angels have a better shot at the playoffs in 2013 and 2014. Maybe even 2015.

Beyond that, things get dicey.

I was talking recently to a prominent agent, who brought up -- unprompted -- what a bad thing this is going to be for the Angels. Houston is a major market, the No. 6 metropolitan area in the United States. The Astros figure to eventually sign a mega-dollar TV deal. They also have a new owner and those guys tend to want to spend lavishly when they first get their new toy.

We've already seen the rise of the Texas Rangers, under new ownership and a good management team, led by Nolan Ryan. The Astros, playing in the same division, figure to compete like crazy to out-do, or stay with, their in-state rivals.

The state of Texas is already a major headache for the Angels. Before long, they might be in for double the pain.