The American League East may be the toughest division in baseball, so the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox and Blue Jays likely welcomed the news that MLB will expand its playoffs in 2012. In theory, three teams from one division could play in the postseason under the new arrangement. Here are the latest links from the AL East...
- Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told Peter Gammons of MLB.com that he gets “tired of hearing the Red Sox are underdogs." As Gammons explains, the Rays could be better in 2012 than they were in ’11.
- Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said he's "pretty certain" the Tampa Bay market can support the team long-term, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Sternberg said he's had encouraging talks with city officials and business leaders about the club.
- After a challenging winter, Sternberg is projecting a "very, very good team this year," Topkin writes. Sternberg approved a payroll increase of approximately 50% for 2012.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington joined WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show and said the decision of whether Jose Iglesias breaks camp with the team will be up to manager Bobby Valentine. "In a perfect world, [Iglesias] would probably get some more time in Triple-A," the GM said (via Jerry Spar).
- Cherington said on WEEI that he isn't worried about Carl Crawford, who will be looking to increase his production after a disappointing 2011.
- Right-handed reliever Chris Carpenter, acquired from the Cubs for Theo Epstein, isn't a lock to make the team, Cherington said. The Red Sox may option him to Triple-A and call him up when a spot opens up.
- Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave. Blues discusses some Yankees who fell short of expectations in 2011 and could make up for it in 2012.