McAdam: Now, Sox may hope playoffs expand sooner

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McAdam: Now, Sox may hope playoffs expand sooner

DALLAS -- Under the terms of the recently-completed collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the Players Association, a provision exists that baseball could institute its expanded playoff format for next season rather than wait for realignment and 2013.

After what happened Thursday, on the final day of the winter meetings, perhaps the Red Sox are thinking: The sooner, the better.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who, like the Red Sox themselves, have missed out on the postseason the last two seasons, came to terms with both first baseman Albert Pujols and pitcher C.J. Wilson Thursday morning, dramatically altering the balance of power in the American League for the near future.

"They're aggressive moves,'' said Red Sox GM Ben Cherington. "Certainly, they're putting their front foot forward in the American League West and the American League in general. There's a lot of good teams in the league and that will be a very competitive division with Texas and Anahiem going after each other.''

The Angels, who have gained a reputation for passivity in their dealings with past free agents, changed their image with their aggressive -- and expensive -- strikes. They can now consider themselves the equals -- at the very least of division rivals, the Texas Rangers, who have won last the two American League pennants.

Take the four A.L. playoff teams from last fall -- the Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers and Rangers -- and added improvements made by the Toronto Blue Jays and Angels, and the American League playoff picture looks more crowded and competitive than ever.

"There are a bunch of teams that will be in pretty good shape going into 2012 to compete in October,'' said Cherington.

If the playoff format doesn't expand for 2012 -- MLB must make a determination by March 1 -- that leaves seven quality teams fighting for four playoff spots. And it greatly increases the chances that next year, for only the second time in the last 10 seasons, the wild card team will come from somewhere other than the American League East.

"We're trying to build the best team we can,'' said Cherington. "However many teams are in the playoffs is not going to affect that. We're trying to build a team that wins as many games as possible. If we do that, we'll have a good chance to be in the playoffs. I don't know what other teams' perspective is on it, but we've always tried to build a team that wins the most games possible and let the chips fall where they may.''

Source: Sox seek smaller pieces, not big names, at trade deadline

Source: Sox seek smaller pieces, not big names, at trade deadline

BOSTON -- According to an N.L. talent evaluator who is familiar with some of the Red Sox ongoing talks with teams leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline, the Sox seem focused on adding a bullpen piece and/or back-end starters.

The need for the former is rather obvious, given the current injuries to Criag Kimbrel and Koji Uehara. The Sox can use some upgrades and another experienced arm to guide them through the final two months.

As for the rotation, it's not a surprise that the Sox aren't serious bidders for more glamorous names like Chris Sale, since that would require them to gut their farm system.

But the team's starter depth is perilous, with only Clay Buchholz in reserve. It makes perfect sense that the Sox would be seeking someone else to help provide them with insurance against further injuries or under-performance.

Will Red Sox' recent poor homestand come back to haunt them?

Will Red Sox' recent poor homestand come back to haunt them?

Lou Merloni joins Early Edition to discuss whether he thinks the Red Sox poor homestand against the Twins and Tigers will ultimately come back to haunt them.