Rays owner Stu Sternberg talks expanding baseball playoffs, Rays 2011 payroll

6:01 PM, Nov 17, 2010   |    comments
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Stuart Sternberg (Photo by Matt May-US PRESSWIRE)
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ORLANDO, Florida - With all 30 owners and all 30 general managers all in the same building, the Rays' front office is hopeful for some good news on their future.

While Rays' majority owner Stu Sternberg didn't want to push the stadium issue, he said he was hopeful the next Major League Baseball Collective Bargaining Agreement would provide relief to teams constantly outspent by division opponents.

Previous Coverage of the Rays' Stadium Saga

Commissioner Bud Selig is expected to address competition issues this week, including possibly expanding the playoffs by another wild-card team in each league.  Changes would likely take place in 2012 or possibly even 2011.

Sternberg, joined by Rays President Matt Silverman and Rays G.M. Andrew Friedman, told 10 News that "we support anything that changes the current situation."

Expanding playoffs would allow the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays to all make the playoffs if they had the records to warrant it, as they would have in 2010.

Another item on the table for discussion this week include possible division realignment.  The Rays said they would support that idea as well.

"At this point, with the (way) the American League East (is)," added Silverman, "with the unbalanced schedule and the limited playoffs, we have a lot of things stacked against us.  So anything that changes those dynamics is probably going to improve our situation."

Silverman said the team had no choice but to reduce payroll in 2011, and implied it would be difficult to re-sign any of their high-priced free agents, including Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, and Rafael Soriano.  Free agent Joaquin Benoit signed a three-year deal with Detroit on Wednesday.

"We have talked about how our payroll will go down," said Silverman.  "(But) we never say never. Last year at this time, we were talking about how we wouldn't have a $7 closer and a few days later, Rafael Soriano becomes part of our team."

"I don't get caught up in how much we can spend as much as I do about how much talent we can get," said general manager Andrew Friedman.  "Obviously it's easier with more money, but it's possible."

Friedman, Silverman, and Sternberg all pointed to their 2008 league pennant and 2010 division title as proof the Rays can do "more with less."

Follow 10 News reporter Noah Pransky on Twitter at www.twitter.com/noahpransky, Facebook at www.facebook.com/noahpransky, or on his Sports Business blog, Shadow of the Stadium.

Noah Pransky, 10 News

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