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The gap between the leagues grows wider

Nov 16, 2009, 8:20 AM EDT

As least psychically, as the GMs who met in Chicago last are said to be increasingly wary of players moving from the NL to the AL:

His shoulders shrugged. His lips pursed. But Kenny Williams bit his tongue one syllable too late.

“A guy going from the American League to the National League, no disrespect, but . . . There are guys in the American League who go to the National League and
don’t do well, but there are not too many of them
that I can think of.”

The two most familiar reasons for the A.L.’s recent dominance are cited: the DH and, more significantly, the competitive pressures caused by the Yankees’ and Red Sox’ big spending. The latter even affects teams outside of the AL East, as the frequent unavailability of the wild card — the Yanks and Sox usually win it — makes them have to shoot for the division title. In the NL, in contrast, it’s easier in any given year for any given team to make the playoffs.

The differences between the leagues are very real, but I’m skeptical that those differences have yet to result in serious impacts on the free agent market. The alleged poster boy for the phenomenon — Matt Holliday — is probably going to get a large contract from an AL team.  I can’t recall any transaction in recent years where actual team sources — as opposed to armchair analysts — cited league differences as a factor in the deal or the price of the deal or anything like that.

Yes, I’m sure the teams analyze it, but I’d be shocked if a team’s front office has actually ever said “No, we just can’t do that deal. The guy’s an NL player, and at the end of the day, I don’t believe he’s worth what they’re asking for him.”

  1. 0ld Gator - Nov 16, 2009 at 9:09 AM

    Plate tectonics, more likely….

  2. Grant - Nov 16, 2009 at 9:27 AM

    The one area where I’d most expect to see this phenomenon is in the realm of pitchers. Specifically ones with mediocre stuff. I’m thinking guys like Suppan (who is terrible even in the NL, of course) or late-career Maddux, Glavine, etc. That’s where you really see teams getting burned. Like Suppan on the Red Sox a few years back.
    But even then, it’s probably not a huge thing yet.

  3. KR - Nov 16, 2009 at 9:59 AM

    The Mets spend more than the Red Sox, they’re just bad at it.

  4. J. McCann - Nov 16, 2009 at 11:53 AM

    If Holliday goes to the AL, it won’t be a monster deal, and I really don’t see him going.
    You can bet the Yankees and Red Sox know all about how to adjust stats between the leagues and how that affects value, and that is really all it takes.

  5. Joe - Nov 16, 2009 at 12:39 PM

    On the other hand, the #2 corner OF on the market recently switched from the NL to the AL, and he skipped nary a beat in the process.

  6. jason11 - Nov 16, 2009 at 5:50 PM

    After the Zito incident, I’d be shocked if any NL teams ever signed another former AL pitcher.

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