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The Rays Tank: New Wild Card Teams, Realignment, And More Molina Mania

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MLB Chatter

According to the most recent reports, MLB and the MLBPA have finalized the new CBA and are expected to announce it on Monday. There aren't any details out at this time, but it's expected that there will be some changes to the draft and free agent compensation. There will be more of this on Monday, and then we'll have plenty of time to digest how this affects the Rays.

Also, Jim Crane was officially named the owner of the Astros yesterday, and the franchise will move into the AL West following the 2012 season. This means there will be many more interleague games than there have been, as the leagues will both have an odd number of teams, and two Wild Card teams will be added. Thank goodness, I'm excited that they actually went ahead and added the two more Wild Card teams. It's at least a step on the road toward fairness, although I was hoping they would get rid of the divisions as well.

So how does the new playoff format affect playoff probabilities? Matthew Carruth over at FanGraphs has you covered.

Saber legend MGL wrote a guest article over at Baseball Prospectus, and it's worth checking out. He focused on why it's a good thing for managers to have a quick hook in pulling out pitchers. Hey Maddon, you out there somewhere?

Rays Talk

Tommy Rancel took a look at the still-not-quite-official Jose Molina signing. Although we don't know the terms, we can make a pretty good guess what they look like, and it seems quite likely that the Rays got a good deal here. Molina will likely be platooned to some degree with the Rays, and hopefully he can pass along some of his defensive knowledge to Jaso, Lobaton, and Chiri.

This isn't strictly related to the Rays, but I know many Rays fans out there also follow the Buccaneers. It's been a dismal season for them so far, but Bill Barnwell over at Grantland gives us reason to keep hope. As he points out, the Buccaneers have had a historically difficult schedule to this point, and things should get easier after this weekend's game against the Packers. Too little too late? Possibly. But it puts their performance this year in some sort of perspective at least.