Cardinals, Dodgers, Red Sox, Tigers prove payrolls still matter

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Koji Uehara has been a tremendous bargain for the Red Sox this season but would have likely been too costly for their ALDS opponents.

Koji Uehara has been a tremendous bargain for the Red Sox this season but would have likely been too costly for their ALDS opponents.

One of these years, a team with a sub-$80 million payroll -- like this season's A's, Indians, Pirates and Rays -- might beat the financial odds and advance not only into baseball's final four, but do what Tampa Bay's '08 iteration did not and win a championship. It is certainly possible, especially given the entropic element that the sport's ever broader and ever more convoluted playoff structure has introduced. If it happens, though, it will be an outlier, given baseball's continuing economic realities. When it matters most, cash is still king.