For the last couple weeks, the good people of the Internets have been bandying about some radical realignment scenarios, in the wake of the news that MLB was considering tinkering with its current alignment. In particular, the league seems keen on moving the Astros into the AL West and creating two 15 team leagues. While that's interesting, and incredibly flawed, we at The Platoon Advantage wonder if it's finally time to expand the league again.
New markets have become viable and old markets can be co-opted in the interest of competitive balance. The player pool continues to grow, as teams scour South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia for young talent. It would balance both leagues, and no one would have to switch from the NL to the AL. It would accentuate some preexisting rivalries, while creating new, geographically centered ones. And finally, it would be a way to inject some offense back into a league that has seen scoring drop precipitously. And, as Keith Law pointed out in a recent podcast, it would be an excellent way for baseball to raise some quick cash (to help bail out the Dodgers, for instance).
So that’s what we’re doing, with the help of 30 of our baseball-blogging friends and even the great Keith Law himself. As a thought exercise, to demonstrate the difficulties involved in building a team from the ground up, The Common Man and Bill are each taking control of a franchise, one in the New York City area (to mitigate some of the financial advantage enjoyed by the NYC teams) and Portland, Oregon, that will join the Major Leagues in 2012. TCM will control the New York franchise, and Bill controlling Portland. The leagues will maintain their integrity, with no clubs switching sides, and each league will be split into four four-team divisions. Here’s what the realignment that we propose looks like:
|AL Northeast||AL East||AL Great Plains||AL West|
|Baltimore Orioles||Cleveland Indians||Chicago White Sox||Los Angeles Angels|
|Boston Red Sox||Detroit Tigers||Kansas City Royals||Oakland A's|
|Brooklyn Hipsters||Tampa Bay Rays||Minnesota Twins||Portland Webfoots|
|New York Yankees||Toronto Blue Jays||Texas Rangers||Seattle Mariners|
|NL East||NL South||NL Central||NL West|
|New York Mets||Atlanta Braves||Chicago Cubs||Arizona Diamondbacks|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Cincinnati Reds||Colorado Rockies||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Florida Marlins||Milwaukee Brewers||San Diego Padres|
|Washington Nationals||Houston Astros||St. Louis Cardinals||San Francisco Giants|
We asked our friends in the SweetSpot Network, and a few special guests from outside of the network, to provide lists of protected players for the expansion draft for their favorite team. The rules, as laid out before the 1997 Expansion Draft, were as follows:
A) Players who were drafted in the last two amateur drafts (2010 and 2011) were not eligible to be selected in the Expansion draft. Also, players selected in the 2009 amateur draft who were under the age of 19 at the time they were selected are also exempt. Teams do not have to protect these players. These same rules apply to amateur free agents who signed in the same timeframe. Therefore, neither expansion club could pick Mike Trout from the Angels.
B) Any player who is going to be a free agent, obviously, will not need to be protected in this draft, since they will not be on their team’s roster at the time of the draft. Therefore, the Mets do not have to burn a spot on Jose Reyes, unless they happen to sign him to an extension before then.
C) Teams are required to submit a list of 15 eligible players who will be “protected” for the first round, meaning that neither expansion team can select them. The Marlins, for instance, protected Mike Stanton, recognizing that he was an incredible young talent with a low salary that any expansion team would pounce on.
D) The expansion teams are only allowed to select one player from any organization per round. For instance, if one club selected Adrian Beltre from the Texas Rangers, the Rangers couldn’t lose anyone else for the rest of that round.
E) After each expansion team has picked 15 players (which would mean that every MLB club has had one players selected), each club is allowed to protect three additional players for Round 2. At that point, the process repeats itself, with 15 more picks, and three more protected players, for Round 3. This continues until each expansion team has selected 35 players.
Here is a link to the list of players each club protected, but if you want to get more information on who each team protected why (or if you want to tell them what a wonderful/horrible job they did), you can click on one of these following links to go to the participating website:
A huge thanks to all our friends for helping to make this a realistic exercise, and for doing such a great job on their lists. Especially the Cubs, who had to dig so deep to find anyone worth keeping.
And now, without further ado, let’s get on with the draft! Click here to check out Round 1! (Or if you've seen that already, jump straight to rounds 2 and 3, or if you just want to skip straight to where the great Keith Law picks our work apart, go here.)
Update: And if you want to get a sense of what the teams might reasonably look like in 2012, check out the Brooklyn Hipsters here, and the Portland Webfoots here.