Posted February 28, 2012 on AP on Fox
Stuart Sternberg doesn't want to place unrealistic expectations on his cost-conscious Tampa Bay Rays. Even after an offseason in which he approved spending that boosted one of baseball's lowest payrolls by more than 50 percent, the owner is reluctant to say he'd be disappointed if the club does anything less than win enough games to make the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. That speaks more to how difficult it is to keep pace with teams that have deeper wallets than what Sternberg feels the Rays are capable of accomplishing after bolstering the offense with the addition of free agents Luke Scott and Carlos Pena and adding veteran relievers Burke Badenhop and Fernando Rodney to the bullpen. ''Our expectations are that we have a very very good team this year. Ideally you'd like to say the best team we've put out. You never really know until we go out there,'' Sternberg said Tuesday during a visit to spring training. ''We'd like to win a lot of games. I can't say if I expect to win 80 or 100,'' he added. ''You can never expect to make the playoffs. I don't think any team does that other than one or two of them.'' The Rays unexpectedly stretched a tight budget this winter, boosting payroll from around $42 million in 2010 to about $65 million this year. Scott and Pena, the franchise's career home run leader who's back in Tampa Bay after spending last season with the Chicago Cubs, signed one-year deals that account for $13 million of that increase. While Sternberg said he didn't anticipate the payroll climbing by more than $20 million, he nevertheless felt compelled as a competitor and a fan of the game to spend more to give the team a better chance of remaining competitive with the big spending New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in the AL East, arguably baseball's toughest division. ''Everybody knows the challenges in the division. You can never assume you're going -or even think you're going - to make it into the postseason given the heft and the abilities of the teams we're competing with,'' Sternberg said. ''If I was spending three-X what we are now, I would tell you I have an expectation to make the playoffs,'' the owner said. ''But to be in the American League East and spend 60 some odd million, which is still a 50 percent bump from last year, I have no right ... to expect we'll make the playoffs. I do expect we're going to win a lot of baseball games.'' Sternberg reiterated his belief that what Tampa Bay has been able to accomplish with limited financial resources - win two AL East titles, make it to the World Series in 2008 and the playoffs three of the past four seasons - can't be sustained long-term without eventually getting out of Tropicana Field and into a new ballpark that will boost revenue. While he's encouraged that there has been dialogue among region politicians and business leaders about the need for a new stadium that ''I also think it's going slower than it can be.'' ''We've got to figure something out. This can't go on for decades,'' said Sternberg, who took control of the team in 2005 and has helped transform it from a club that had never finished with a winning record into a championship contender. ''Why you want more revenue is to give yourself a better opportunity to compete. We are competing without the revenue. That is not an endless cycle,'' the owner said. ''I don't mind the difficulty of doing it. I like the challenge. That's all fine and dandy, but you want to have a ray of hope that we can sustain this. And we have to this point. It's been very fortuitous, we've been very fortunate.'' Sternberg said he remains optimistic that baseball can succeed in the Tampa Bay area. He the willingness to boost the payroll this winter ''shows the faith we have in this market.'' ''If I didn't think it would work, we wouldn't be spending what we're spending here to win,'' the owner said. ''I think winning ... and continued success gives us the best chance to ultimately put us in a position to have this sustainable.''

Luke Scott Calls Red Sox Fans 'Vulgar,' Says 'They Swear at You' and 'Talk About Your Family'

Apparently Luke Scott has never heard the "sticks and stones" rhyme. But next time he comes to Boston, he's going to hear a whole lot of fun things from the Boston crowd. Scott spoke out about Red Sox fans on Wednesday, saying how vulgar and ruthless they are. He added how "awesome" it felt, as a member of the Orioles last year, to spoil the Sox' postseason...

Rays’ Luke Scott Rips Red Sox Fans As ‘Arrogant’ & ‘Vulgar’

Highlight Of Scott's Career Let’s hope Tampa Bay Rays player Luke Scott is never traded to Boston. And when the Rays and Scott — who calls Red Sox fans “arrogant” and “vulgar” — visit Fenway for the first time this season, April 13? We suggest earplugs. Scott, who was with the Orioles last season when Baltimore beat Boston on the last day of the...

Former Oriole Luke Scott Talks Last Game of 2011 Season; Mocking Red Sox Fans

The final day of baseball in the 2011 regular season may just be the most amazing day of baseball in history. The Orioles battled the free-falling Red Sox at Camden Yards while the already-clinched Yankees were playing the resilient Rays. In order to play another game, the Rays needed to win, effectively forcing a one game playoff. However, with a Sox loss and a Rays win, the Sox...

Luke Scott hates Red Sox fans, says beating Sox in Sept. was like "winning World Series"

To add to a story that just won't die, Bill Chastain of had an interview with former Baltimore Oriole and current Tampa Bay Ray, Luke Scott about the final night of the season. You know the night that plunged a knife deep into the heart of Sox fans. He had a few choice words to say about Red Sox fans in particular: Just their arrogance," Scott said. "The fans...

Washed up Rays outfielder Luke Scott calls out Sox fans

ESPN BostonScott, who was with the Orioles last season when Baltimore beat Boston on the last day of the season, is clearly not a fan of Red Sox Nation -- making the Orioles' comeback victory and the Rays' unlikely win over the Yankees minutes later that much more satisfying. Scott didn't hold back when expressing his disdain for Red Sox fans recently to Bill Chastain...

Luke Scott rips Red Sox fans: They’re ruthless, vulgar, and they cause trouble

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Red Sox fans are not known for being the kindest bunch in the nation. Words like disrespectful, loud, and obnoxious are used more often to describe Boston fans than ones like classy and welcoming. Having played in the A.L. East since 2008, Rays outfielder Luke Scott has become quite familiar with Red Sox fans and the way they act at Fenway Park...

Scott continues to build up strength in shoulder

Luke Scott probably received more attention Monday for having two imposing, seven-foot hunting spears by his locker, but he also enjoyed a "very, very good day" in his continued recovery from right shoulder surgery in July.

Ex-Oriole Luke Scott rips Red Sox fans

It’s hard to think of a more polarizing personality in Orioles history than Luke Scott.

Final night of '11 still resonates with Rays

Luke Scott called the final night of the 2011 season "the greatest night in baseball history," and that seems to be the general sentiment among fans and players alike.

While We’re Waiting… Spring training news/speculation and Cavalier trade options

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at Defending the Sizemore signing- “Maybe the Tribe could have used the Sizemore savings in other areas, such as increasing their offer to first baseman Carlos Pena. They...

Luke Scott admittedly took pleasure in Red Sox’s pain last season

(source feed provided no summary content for this entry)

Rhymes Appreciates Rays' Merit Based Approach

In recent years, players like Carlos Pena and Casey Kotchman have come to the Rays on minor league deals and quickly become starters while in the meantime resurrecting their careers. Infielder Will Rhymes is looking for the same opportunity to prove himself and says that the Rays' merit based approach was a huge reason why he decided to sign with the team this off-season.
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.