Thursday, September 11, 2014

Stu Sternberg, Who Doesn't Like to Talk Payroll, Says Payroll Will Drop

Rays executives used to frequently say they didn't like to forecast payroll numbers because they didn't want their opponents to have the intel.  However, not a season goes by these days that we don't see some comment from Stu Sternberg or Andrew Friedman about the team's struggles to compete financially. 

Marc Topkin reports {link to Times' site}:
Sternberg said the 2015 payroll is "clearly going to be lower" than this year's franchise-record $80 million, and he pointed out — albeit a small sample size — that they have had the most success when they have spent least.

"We've run payroll into the ($40 million range) and gotten into the World Series and well into the playoffs, and our two highest payrolls … the years we stepped it up (percentage-wise) were 2009 and 2014, and those are the only two years we haven't played significant September baseball," Sternberg said. "That doesn't mean you're not going to go at it again if you can, but we spent some money on a couple of big signings, for us at least. It still comes down to performance for all 30-35 guys at least."
Sternberg echoes a point this blog made prior to the 2014 season, that talking payroll is largely pointless, since the team said they had "no flexibility" in payroll prior to 2010, when they won the AL East.  And after that season, Friedman acknowledged modest success and competitive teams may in fact be sustainable.

As I've always said, its a huge testament to the Rays' front office.  And of course, with more tools, Friedman would certainly craft a better product.

But talking payroll is also an excuse to bang the stadium drum another time.  Sternberg also told Topkin, "I don't know what'll dramatically push the attendance up. And I do believe that a number of years of really losing baseball, we're in jeopardy.''

What's ironic is, back in 2012, Sternberg said adding payroll showed "the faith we have in this market."  So is he implying a reduction in 2015 payroll indicates a reduction in faith?

Maybe, but he also said in 2012 the team was "sustaining [financial] losses," which we know isn't true.  So take everything he says publicly with a grain of salt.


  1. Stu Sternberg should sell the team NOW rather than after enduring "a number of years of really losing baseball". He will get a better price NOW rather than then.

  2. Noah, I didn't realize Forbes was infallible. I continue to caution you against carried away with claiming that sketchy guesses are solid while simultaneously asserting that Sternberg is lying.

    Neither you nor Forbes nor Bloomberg know how much the Rays have in debt, how much they have invested in their foreign academies, and what the ownership buyout terms with the original Namoli partners look like.

    So it is speculation to assert that the Rays made a profit in the eight figure range. You must have missed the interviews that come out every year after Forbes various "richest" lists wherein multiple listed individuals assert the magazine's estimates are way, way off.

    You are winning a reputation as a journalist on stadium related news, but your insistence on accepting unknowns as facts, while dismissing widely proven economic theory undermines your credibility.

    Please keep up the energy. Just work to remove the voodoo from your reporting.