Rays' Sternberg on expectations, openers, payroll, Price
Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg talked to a group of reporters on the field before Tuesday's opener, and in addition to talk about stadium talks - which is covered elsewhere - here is what he had to say:
On his expectation for this season?
"Meaningful games in the month of September. I never come past that. That’s my goal, that’s my hope, that’s my expectations.”
On what opening day means to him?
“Probably the one day that transcends the ownership of the team and goes back and speaks to me and my childhood and everything else, the bunting and everything. You sort of remember where you spent opening days over the years. A couple of times I missed school, so Opening Day is meaningful.”
On his feelings about the team's chances?
"I feel good. If it's possible I felt better last year and I was very concerned with the optimism. It feels very strange because it’s not an all-consuming focus on the Yankees and Red Sox, if anything. Even though we just try to take care of our business, when you have your world get a little topsy-turvy that finds its way to seep into my thinking a little bit.”
On how he feels about the Rays being picked by several national experts to reach the Series?
"Uneasy. Very uneasy. We play a bit better without the great expectations. I felt better about things without the expectations and, quite frankly, as we saw last year in our division, we had a team that could have won 100 games won under 70 and another that could have won 70 beat us out in the playoffs. Great stuff.''
On how a new stadium could impact keeping ace David Price long-term?
"Certainly, if the revenue stream is higher it gives us the ability and the confidence to be able to have a larger payroll. As it is right now, we have a large payroll for us that also happens to be one of the lowest in baseball. It’s unfortunate those two things intersect. But the most important thing is having success on the field and we’ve had a lot of success with a low payroll.”
How is that impacted by deals such as Justin Verlander's extension that could be worth more than $200-million?
"He's not the first and he's not the last. It's nothing new. Evan (Longoria) is here at $100-million. We have the desire and we have the ability to spend real money in the context of what the organization can afford.''
Will you speak to the team today?
"A quick something. I try to stay out of the way otherwise I muck things up. I do tell them one thing - I tell them to stay healthy. If they stay healthy, I'll be very happy with the outcome. I think all of us will be.''