AL East got even better

December, 11, 2008
12/11/08
9:21
PM ET
Think the Yankees' Winter of Spending Dangerously has scared the rest of the AL East? Sorry. Think again. Looks as though the rest of the division wants to play out the season no matter how many free agents the Yankees sign.

FROM RAYS GM ANDREW FRIEDMAN: "I think we demonstrated last year that payrolls don't decide the standings. It certainly makes things more challenging. They're very well-run, and I don't think they're done yet. So we certainly have our work cut out for us. But it doesn't do any good to focus on what they're doing. Our focus remains on constructing a roster that can win another American League championship."

ESPN.COM: "You enjoy saying that, don't you?"

FRIEDMAN: "I do."

FROM RED SOX GM THEO EPSTEIN: "We're focused on what we're doing. But yeah, we pay attention. We hope they sign bad players for a lot of money, as opposed to good players for short money. But the reality is, they're going to do a great job. When it's the Yankees, we don't pay that much attention because we assume we're going to look around the diamond and see great players. … I know they're going to have seven good starting pitchers and nine really good hitters. That's just the way it's going to be. They're going to be fantastic. They'll probably project on paper to win 100 games."

ESPN.COM: "So does that mean you have to build a team that projects to win 101?"

EPSTEIN: "Nope. We try to build a team that we project to win 95 games, year in and year out. We've done that five out of six years, and it's been good enough to get us in. Yeah, it would be nice to win 100 or project to win 100. But we don't think we can do that -- build a team that projects to win 100 games -- without sacrificing elements of our future and our foundation that are important. So we try to get to 95 on paper and be really happy about that. And then the season happens, and all bets are wiped out."

ESPN.COM: "How good is the American League East right now?"

EPSTEIN: "Incredibly competitive division. It's a gantlet. And it's getting more and more competitive every year. I don't know what that means, other than the team that gets out of our division tends to get really prepared for the postseason. And really tired."

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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