Red Sox

MLB Notebook: Red Sox leaving the AL East to others; Casas studying up

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

As you may have noticed, the Red Sox aren't much of a factor in the American League East.

Entering Saturday's play, they were lodged in the division basement, 14.5 games out of first and five full games behind the fourth-place Baltimore Orioles, the team thought to be the East's worst team, by a longshot, when the season began six weeks ago.

ESPN.com gave the Red Sox a 0.2 percent chance of making the postseason, which, frankly, seems wildly optimistic.

A last-place finish would be the fourth for the Red Sox since 2012.

Given that the Red Sox have made themselves irrelevant, it seems like a good time to examine some other teams in the division:

TAMPA BAY: If you're wondering what Chaim Bloom is trying to accomplish in Boston, look no further than his former franchise, the Rays.

In the same week the Rays claimed the best record in the American League, their farm system was ranked as the best in the game by MLB.com's MLB Pipeline.

It's exactly this kind of twin-track progress that Bloom is seeking -- a consistently competitive team on the field, backed by a development system in position to supply constant reinforcements to the major league roster.

On the field, the Rays are coming off of consecutive 90-win seasons. They're on track to reach the postseason for the second straight season, and given the relative youth of their present major league roster -- among major contributors, only starting pitcher Charlie Morton is both over-30 and not under control past this season -- it seems like a given that the Rays will be championship contenders for several seasons to come.

Of course, what makes that feat doubly impressive is that the Rays have reached this status without spending much in the way of major league payroll. Their payroll, adjusted for a full 162-game season, would come in at $77.68 million in 2020, ranking them 28th among the 30 major league teams. Only Pittsburgh and Miami have spent less.

It's worth noting, too, that the other model franchise -- that is, combining on-field success and development -- is the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers have the NL's best record, are about to clinch their eighth (!) consecutive N.L. West title and while their farm system has slipped to 11th in the MLB Pipeline rankings, that's only because the team has recently graduated pitchers Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin and Dennis Santana to the big league roster.

It is probably not an accident that the executive in charge of the Dodgers' twin supremacy is Andrew Friedman, former GM in Tampa Bay, who hired Bloom and gave him first full-time baseball job with the Rays some 16 years ago.