Based on what they've been doing — and, in the case of a certain left-hander, not doing — to improve their roster and how much they've been spending, with an opening-day payroll pushing $80 million, the Rays are certainly looking like a team committing to making a serious run at a championship.
But don't say they're "all in."
At least not around principal owner Stuart Sternberg.
"I don't believe in the phrase, 'all in,' " Sternberg said. "I've heard it, and I don't care for it. We are feeding the beast. That usually comes with very successful teams who have to keep throwing money into an incinerator to keep things going.
"This is a beast that has been very successful for a number of years now. And we've come to the understanding that we're going to do everything in our power, if we have a chance to get to the World Series, to try to get to the World Series."
Which is why they spent the money to bring back 1B James Loney, why they traded for C Ryan Hanigan, why they unexpectedly signed All-Star closer Grant Balfour and why they — at least thus far — haven't traded ace David Price.
"In for a penny, in for a pound a little bit, I guess," Sternberg said. "We want to give this organization and teams like this the best chance to compete and to win. And we know that it's going to cost us more than we can afford. …
"When you see the opportunity for somebody like (Balfour), the way the payroll has grown around it, in some respects, it's the price of success. If you didn't have these kinds of players, we'd be looking at a whole different kind of payroll."
But, still, it's all being done with a plan, with an eye on the future and with limits.
" 'All-in' means there's no next year," he said. "That's 'all in.' We could go that way and run $25 million payrolls the next three years and bankrupt our farm system. That would be 'all in.' "
DINNER BELL: Fewer than 100 tickets remains for Saturday's Ted Williams Museum induction banquet at the Trop, known this year as Dinner with Ben Zobrist & Friends, featuring Price, Alex Cobb and Chris Archer. Inductees Craig Biggio, Johnny Damon, Dwight Gooden, Jim "Mudcat" Grant, Frank Howard and James Shields are all expected. Tickets, $125 and including an autograph session with some current and former players (Desmond Jennings, Matt Moore, Jim Perry just added), are available through Wednesday by calling (727) 534-5343 or via raysbaseball.com (under the FANS tab).
CAMP TIME: Free agent OF Sam Fuld, still considering the Rays and other teams, will hold his third annual Diabetes Sports Camp for kids 8-17 next weekend at USF. Registration is $70; see samfulddiabetescamp.org. … OF Matt Joyce hosts his annual camp today at 10 a.m. at the North Brandon Baseball Complex (2915 Kingsway Ave.) with a few spots open. Register, for $102.50, on site; info on nbyb.biz.
RAYS RUMBLINGS: Barry LeBrock won't be back on Rays TV broadcasts; word is Rich Hollenberg takes over. … Minor-league coaching staffs, including a new Double-A manager, will be (finally) announced this week. … OF Wil Myers was at the New York BBWAA dinner Saturday to receive his AL rookie of the year award. … Three Rays made mlb.com's top 100 prospects, though the highest ranked was RHP Jake Odorizzi at 56; SS Hak-Ju Lee was 84; RHP Taylor Guerrieri 94. … Balfour's two-year, $12 million deal is the third largest for a free agent under Sternberg, behind Loney's three/$21 million and Pat Burrell's two/$16 million. … LHP Cesar Ramos was to be married Saturday. … 3B Evan Longoria was chosen Face of the Rays by MLB Network respondents. … George Pappas was hired as a communications coordinator. … Former Ray Toby Hall hosts his annual charity golf event benefiting the Miracle League and Buddy Baseball on Feb. 7 at Feather Sound. … ESPN's Buster Olney picks the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees to all make the playoffs. … Balfour declined comment on a potential grievance against the Orioles, who backed off a December deal due to health concerns: "That stuff is going to be taken care of by other people on my behalf." … Zobrist was named to Anthony Castrovince's mlb.com all-underrated team.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.