Winning with Lower Payroll Is in the Rays DNA

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ST. PETERSBURG (2011-10-6) -

“Untenable” -- that’s how Rays owner Stewart Sternberg characterized the teams low attendance versus the cost of fielding a competitive team. Sternberg criticized fans for their poor attendance especially at the final playoff game on Tuesday which was a couple thousand short of selling out.

Yet, Rays Manager Joe Maddon defended the fans Thursday during an end of the season news conference.

“At the end of the day, do not criticize that group that has been out there. Difficult moments, difficult economy, people on a Tuesday,” Maddon said. “I know it’s a playoff game, but it’s a Tuesday at 2 o’clock a lot of folks gotta work. So, there is a tremendous amount of gratitude from us for the fan base.”

Maddon did acknowledge that he’d like more fans at the ballpark so the team would have additional money to be more competitive and win a World Series. He added, “We were so darn close” for the last two years.

Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman, said that Sternberg – like the markets – can change and has in the past.

“I know that he’s frustrated but from the baseball operations side of things, we try to insulate ourselves from that,” Friedman said. “It doesn’t do us any good to get caught up in that. We understand and appreciate that our AL East Brothers spend more than we do.”

Sternberg said winning with a much lower payroll than the Yankees and Red Sox has become part of the Rays’ organizational DNA and that he and Maddon refuse to use it as an excuse.

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