The pros and cons of moving the Astros to the AL

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The realignment talk of a couple of months ago has largely died down and it isn’t likely to be part of the new collective bargaining agreement this winter, but Zach Levine reports that it’s still being discussed, with the Astros the most likely candidate for shuffling.

Of particular interest is Levine’s breakdown of the pros and cons of all of the potential moves. Or, at the very least, the potential moves which have been floated in recent months, including Astros-to-the-AL, Astros-to-the-NL West and some other team like the Diamondbacks to the AL and doing nothing.  It’s a pretty thorough handling of it all.

Most of the drawbacks mentioned, though, are sort of soft drawbacks. As in, I know that people get worked up about them, but they’re merely hangups, not concrete obstacles. Stuff like rivalry implications (do we really care?) and constant interleague play (again, do we really care?).

It’s a back burner issue now, but it will bubble up again sometime in the next few months, so arm yourself with knowledge now.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.