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Astros sale could be bad news

The annoucement this week that the Houston Astros are for sale could spell trouble for the National League central division.

Houston is the fourth-largest media market in the United States. But for the last decade or so, the club has operated with a payroll more reflective of a mid-market franchise like the Cardinals. if the new 'Stros owner decides to get aggressive, it could be tough for the Redbirds, Brewers and Reds to keep pace.

I don't think we can count on any other club in the major leagues to spend as stupidly as the Cubs who ride a $140-million payroll to third or fourth place on an annual basis.

It will be interesting to see who comes out of the woodwork to make a bid. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who tried to buy the Texas Rangers this year and last was rumored to be in the bidding for the Cubs, said he isn't interested.

But the Astros have all the pieces in place to be a major market force -- except maybe for an owner that is willing to gamble with his wallet.