Sternberg on Crawford deal, "discouraging" free agent prices and payroll
Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg (in the center of the photo) spent Saturday building in St. Petersburg - not a new stadium, but a playground in partnership with the Kaboom! program at the Sanderlin Family Center, joined by about 150 Rays employees and his family.
Sternberg clearly enjoyed that project, and took a few minutes to talk about another project, the reconstruction of his AL East champion team, and his first comments on Carl Crawford's new deal and his views of the currrent free agent market.
On Crawford's 7-year, $142-million deal with the Red Sox: "God bless him, good luck to him and I'm thrilled we and he were able to put him in a position to take care of his family for generations to come.''
On the size of the deals being done with free agents: "It's discouraging, but plans don't change. It's discouraging, if guys were available who were really in our price range we would have a lot more selection, you know, pick from Column A and Column B. But we don't, nor have we ever really had that opportunity.''
On trying to be competitive in 2011: "I believe we can be competitive, sure. If the prices were different, it would be easier. Prices being what they are makes it harder. It doesn't put it out of the realm of possibility. ... A lot of it is what our competition does certainly. We're going to put the best team on the field we can. When we I say "we can," last year we put the best team on the field we could. We couldn't afford it, but we did it. And we're going to put the best team on the field we can this year - the best thing we can do, what we think is the smart thing to do.''
On the 2011 payroll after the planned reduction: "It's really a question of what's out there, so I don't know. As I said, it was going down. It's clearly going to be down a bunch of what it was last year ($73M), it's going to be up from where we were when we started ($35.4M n 2006), and there's a wide gap in there. It's nothing really to look back on, but in '08 (when they went to the World Series) we had a $43-million payroll which was a good jump from the year before, so I really don't know. It's a question of what's available.''
Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Rays