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Adding wouldn’t subtract

Some GMs back bigger playoffs

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / November 16, 2010

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Expansion of baseball’s playoff format seems to have support from the general managers, who made their way here yesterday for three days of meetings.

The GMs are expected to hear from Commissioner Bud Selig and baseball’s owners, who also will be here this week, about their ideas on expansion of the playoffs.

The Brewers’ Doug Melvin, the Reds’ Walt Jocketty, the Diamondbacks’ Kevin Towers, and the Cubs’ Jim Hendry all were early arrivers to the event, and the GMs gave thumbs up to the thought of adding a wild-card team in each league and having the two wild-card teams in each circuit play a best-of-three series. It doesn’t appear that a one-game playoff would garner much support.

“Sure I’d be in favor it,’’ Hendry said about extra wild cards. “It would be good for the game and good for the fans. It’s worked well for the other sports and our wild card has proven to be a tremendous success. I wouldn’t want it to be more than two out of three games, though.’’

One issue might be the wait for the division winners while the wild-card round is contested. There’s also the possibility of the spring training schedule having to be readjusted to perhaps start the regular season a little sooner, though it’s doubtful teams would forgo spring training revenue.

“That’s why you’d have to limit it to best-of-three series,’’ said Melvin. “Players are pretty adaptable to wait for that period. Anything longer might be difficult.’’

Towers said, “I’m absolutely in favor of it. Besides, it helps keep a handful of cities’ interest up all year. I think a best-of-three first round would be perfect.’’

“It’ll be interesting to see what the exact proposal is,’’ said Jocketty, “but in a perfect world, it’ll be exciting for the fans.’’

The GMs, including the Red Sox’ Theo Epstein, checked in last night and will begin meeting today. Already, there have been a couple of deals ahead of the meetings, including A’s GM Billy Beane acquiring David DeJesus from the Royals for Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks, a lefthanded prospect.

Melvin was on the phone constantly putting together a coaching staff for new manager Ron Roenicke, which included the firing of pitching coach Rick Peterson and the hiring of former Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz. Melvin is hoping to add two starting pitchers, and is taking offers for Prince Fielder.

Melvin said he’d prefer to keep Fielder, but that doesn’t appear to be in the cards. He also scoffed at speculation that outfielder Ryan Braun might be available and he texted Braun to ask, “Who are we getting back from the Red Sox for you?’’

Fielder was also in play last season, though, and Melvin couldn’t get enough for him. Any team dealing for the powerful lefthanded hitter likely would have to work out a new contract for the 26-year-old first baseman with agent Scott Boras, and that could be a major sticking point.

Another interesting scenario is in Arizona, where Towers has been surprised at the interest teams have expressed in shortstop Stephen Drew and outfielder Justin Upton. Towers said he would have to overwhelmed with an offer for either player to make it happen. He also said he’d fielded calls on a number of his players.

The Yankees’ Brian Cashman arrived late yesterday afternoon but will hold off on his search for a new pitching coach until he gets back to New York, so manager Joe Girardi can be involved in the process. Cashman also said his offseason should be fairly predictable in that “we know we have to get the shortstop [Derek Jeter] and the closer [Mariano Rivera] done, and after that there are some things we’d like to get done. It’s not like two years ago, where we needed to secure certain things for our future. I think our future is good either way.’’

Cashman was asked when lefthander Andy Pettitte would decide whether he was returning, and he said, “If we haven’t made any moves or spent any money then he can take all the time he wants. I spoke to him before the end of the season and he goes through the same process every year.’’

New Mets general manager Sandy Alderson checked in a day after his father was struck and killed by a jeep in St. Petersburg, Fla. Alderson said he came to keep his appointment with Cardinals bench coach Jose Oquendo, whom he was interviewing for the Mets’ managing job. At one point Alderson teared up and left, but he may conduct another round of interviews to be as thorough as he can be.

Hendry wished Ryne Sandberg well and denied there were any ill feelings after he gave the Cubs’ managing job to interim Mike Quade, who did a nice job replacing Lou Piniella.

Sandberg, the Hall of Fame former Cubs second baseman, yesterday took a Triple A managing job with the Phillies’ Lehigh Valley IronPigs and indicated during a conference call that he also had been interviewed by the Red Sox for their vacant job in Pawtucket.

Sandberg came up in the Phillies organization before being dealt to the Cubs, and he said, “If it were between the Phillies and another organization, I’d pick the Phillies because of my ties with the Philadelphia organization.’’

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.

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