Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Rays don’t plan in-season payroll cut
Posted Jul 10, 2009 by Marc Lancaster
Updated Jul 10, 2009 at 02:05 PM
With his team hovering on the periphery of the playoff hunt as the All-Star break looms, Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said on a conference call today that he doesn’t expect to trim salary in the second half despite attendance and revenues that have lagged behind the team’s expectations so far.
“We made a commitment to do certain things this year, to try to put the absolute best product we can on the field and then some,” Sternberg said. “Last year was so special, you wanted to give each of the guys in the clubhouse and the fans and the organization the best chance we can to succeed again. I don’t think I would have changed anything, what we did in the offseason … we clearly had a need, we felt at the time, to shore up different parts of the team, and we did that.
“We still feel great about the team, and as long as we’re in the hunt, I don’t see us, because of financial reasons, pulling back from that. Clearly, though, it’s a multiyear process and the money doesn’t come out of thin air. Money spent this year and budgetary shortfalls from a revenue standpoint are going to lead towards future years being a little bit leaner. I won’t say a lot leaner, but certainly a little bit leaner for starters.”
That will make for a difficult balancing act as the Rays move forward, as significant raises will be due to several key players already on hand heading into 2010, let alone any free agents or salary-adding trades the Rays might wish to make moving forward.
As far as his team’s play on the field so far this season, Sternberg said he is “really satisfied.”
“As a snapshot, I couldn’t be more pleased, and I think we have a lot of positives ahead of us here,” Sternberg said. “Clearly, April dragged us down a little bit. We got off to a slow start and as I look back at it now, we did a lot that we thought was going to mitigate it, but clearly there was a hangover effect from last year. I’m a bit guilty of it as well. We tried to make a big deal about celebrating last season the first week of this year, and while I don’t think I would have changed a thing because I think there was a real reason to celebrate, I do think it might have had a little bit of an impact, especially given that we have players who had never been through it before. Next year it’ll be a little bit easier because they’ll have been through it a second time, when we get to the World Series again.
“I think once we got April out of the way – and it was not a pleasant schedule for that month, as well – the team started playing up to its potential. I believe right now, we’re on pace at Tropicana Field to push almost 60 wins, which would be extraordinary. I think if we could once again get our number at Tropicana Field with what I would term our home-field advantage, if we can get that [win total] into the upper 50s again, I think we have a good opportunity to be there well into September. The two teams we’re chasing don’t make it easy, though, I’ll tell ya.”