Rays Spring Training Update, Day Four

Jim Hickey works with the pitchers after a rain delay in Port Charlotte, Thursday. (Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays)

Jim Hickey works with the pitchers after a rain delay in Port Charlotte, Thursday. (Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays)

After a brief rain delay, thanks to a passing cold front, the Tampa Bay Rays got to work on the fourth day of Spring Training. Eugenio Velez reported to camp, so only Boog Powell and Alex Colome (visa delay) have yet to arrive with the first full workout looming Saturday.

After a bit of confusion Wednesday, Drew Smyly threw a bullpen session a day later than his group, as did RHP Jose Dominguez and LHP Matt Moore. All three were the only pitchers expected to throw bullpen sessions Thursday, though a few others — like Ernesto Frieri — got sessions in after the rain cleared.

Rays manager Kevin Cash seems to be flexible with his pitcher’s schedules, as long as they get themselves ready for the season. Cash told Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times),

We’re pretty open to whatever. They all know that we want them to pitch, ready to go. However we get there, that’s fine.

Pitchers will toss live batting practice Saturday, though few players, including OF Steven Souza, stood in during pitchers’ bullpen sessions to begin tracking pitches.

Michael Saunders, the Blue Jays’ recently acquired outfielder, was placed on the DL after he hurt his knee in Dunedin, Thursday. You may be asking, what does this have to do with Tampa Bay? The Rays have not shied away from the subject of trading David DeJesus, and he could be a good fit for Toronto.

DeJesus has a favorable contract ($5M for 2015, with a $5M option for 2016 or a $1M buyout), and is flexible on both sides of the plate. Jason Hanselman (Dock of the Rays) wrote about the potential of dealing DeJesus to Toronto,

…David DeJesus is coming off of a season where he was around 20% better with the stick than his peers. He can play around average in the corner, better in LF to hide his arm, and can fill in at CF in a pinch without sending you running for the hills. He hits righties. He does not hit lefties. He makes an interesting replicant for Michael Saunders and is on a contract that pays him around what he’s worth. It’s almost too obvious.

Hanselman further suggested a trade for former Ray Dioner Navarro may very well be a positive. Unlike DeJesus, Navarro can hit lefties, and both players have the same salary in 2015 — though Tampa Bay already has Bobby Wilson and Curt Casali in line on the depth chart behind the plate.  

Hanselman went on,

For a switch hitter Navarro has shown a pretty large split throughout his career. He’s been around 7% better than the league against lefties, but around 22% worse against righties. Being able to pair him with a guy like Jaso could lead to the best DH output for the Rays since the days of Jose or Jonny or Johnny.

You’re talking around 200 PA or so and you can probably get him another 200-250 in the games that he starts, so for Navarro in the last year of a two-year contract he should see more opportunity to get that next deal. More than he would have in Toronto, at least, where he is clamoring to be sent packing.

It’s an interesting proposition, yet, I distinctly remember a time when Navarro abandoned the Rays after being told he wasn’t going to be on the roster for the first round of the 2010 playoffs.

Noteworthiness

  • Four days into Spring Training, and Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey has already begun to help extreme fly-ball pitcher Ernesto Frieri make adjustments to his delivery. Charlie Wilmoth (MLB Trade Rumors) wrote about those early tweaks,

Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey is already helping new reliever Ernesto Frieri make adjustments, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune writes. “That’s why I’m here,” says Frieri. “He knows what he’s doing. He fixed a couple of guys before, and I hope I’m not the exception. I’m pretty sure he’s going to give me the right information and I’m going to take advantage.” The Rays have helped veteran relievers like Fernando Rodney, Kyle Farnsworth and Joaquin Benoit improve their stock, and Frieri hopes to be the next in line. The 29-year-old is coming off a terrible season with the Angels and Pirates in which he posted a 7.34 ERA and struggled mechanically. His 10.4 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and good velocity suggest he might have more gas in his tank, however, even if his fly-ball tendencies make him homer-prone, so he could be a bounce-back candidate if he can make the right adjustments. Here’s more from the American League.

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Highlights From Spring Training, Stadium Hypotheticals

Evan Longoria and James Loney getting in some work Wednesday, in Port Charlotte. (Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays)

Evan Longoria and James Loney getting in some work Wednesday, in Port Charlotte. (Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays)

The third day of Spring Training is in the books. RHP Roland Belisario, non-roster INF Juan Francisco and OF Joey Butler arrived at camp Wednesday, bringing the total number of arrivals to 59 out of the 63 players on the spring roster. Alex Colome — who has been delayed by visa issues in the Dominican Republic, Jeff Butler, Boog Powell and Eugenio Velez have yet to arrive, though the first full workout is not until Saturday.

Bulleted highlights from the third day of camp follow:

  • Drew Smyly, David Schoenfield’s sleeper candidate for the 2015 Cy Young Award, did not throw a bullpen session Wednesday. However, he and manager Kevin Cash squashed any rumors of injury saying that was by design. Smyly, who prefers a slightly different program than the Rays use, will throw a bullpen session every third day, instead of every other as the other pitchers, and will throw more pitches each time. The lefty prefers “more volume” in his bullpen sessions. As a result, Smyly will make one less exhibition appearance, and won’t debut until March 10th or 11th.
  • Closer Jake McGee took the next step in his rehab from arthroscopic elbow surgery, extending his throwing distance to 105 feet. He is on track to a return to game action toward the end of April.
  • Belisario is expected to work out with the team Thursday for the first time.
  • Marc Topkin writes, “Francisco said he signed with the Rays primarily because of what he saw as a good opportunity to make the team with at-bats as a DH and backup at 1B and 3B. But those chances seem somewhat diminished since the Rays later acquired John Jaso — also a lefty hitter — in trade and see him as their primary DH.”
  • RHP Grant Balfour left camp to return to Australia to be with his father who has been battling cancer. Balfour’s departure was not planned, and comes just two days after the announcement that he will temporarily postpone his workouts by a week as a matter of conserving strength. He expected to be gone at least 5-7 days, though he intends he to throw while he is in Australia.
  • In other Balfour news, the Rays former closer made his intention known that he wants his high-leverage position back. Unfortunately for Balfour, the competition between he, Kevin Jepsen and Jake McGee promises to be stiff. Balfour told Bill Chastain in an interview with MLB.com,

“Every year I look forward to going out and having a good year. Some years, it works out and some years, it doesn’t. But I try to do everything I can to make it happen. Maybe last year things got to me a little bit when things weren’t going well. I learn from new experiences. I’ve had some really good success in my career. And I can feed off that.”

“As long as everything is in shape and I feel good, then I believe in myself that I can go out there and do what I want to do,” Balfour said. “As long as my body is allowing me each day to go out there and do what I want to do. Hey, I’m going to give everything I got and I totally believe in what I can do.”

Stadium Hypotheticals

Noah Pranksy (Shadow of the Stadium) posed an intriguing question on his blog Tuesday:

If the Rays determined the best place for a future stadium — because of land and financing — was on the Pinellas side of the Howard Frankland Bridge, would Hillsborough County residents be willing to contribute tax dollars toward it?

The question was asked as a hypothetical response to a letter to the editor in the Tampa Tribune, where a Hillsborough County man suggested St. Petersburg’s city council was “selfish” for looking out for its constituents. The gentleman in questioned opined the council members needed to “grow up.”

It got me thinking of a few other hypotheticals surrounding the Stadium Saga. First, if a new stadium was to be included as part of a multi-use facility built on Tropicana Field’s sprawling 85 acres, what might it look like? Also, how feasible — from a financing point of view — might a that scenario be?

A rather ambiguous post by local group Baseball is Good Business appeared in my Facebook feed on February 19th. Captioned “Multi Land Use — Stay Tuned,” a mockup (seen below) of a multi-use facility built on the Trop’s 85 acres showed what the property could look like if it was to be developed. The mockup included mixed use office towers, parking garages, restaurants and stores, residential housing — including after school childcare, and a hotel. It should also be noted that Jabil Circuit is still eying that area as a potential home for its new corporate headquarters.

Mockup

A multi-use land mockup of the Trop’s 85 acres. (Courtesy of Baseball is Good Business)

The mockup certainly isn’t perfect. Tropicana Field is in the thick of things, almost as the crowning jewel of the hypothetical multi-use facility. It goes without saying, the antiquated dome would have to be replaced with a new, next generation, stadium if the 85 acres the Trop currently sits on was to even be considered by the Rays.

It does, however, illustrate an idea that has gained traction of late — the possibility of building a new stadium to keep the team, potentially by redeveloping the 85-acre Tropicana Field property. As several previously touted locations — namely the Channel District in Tampa, which Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik is redeveloping, or the Carillon area in northeast St. Petersburg — no longer appear likely, the current site is gaining traction with some. If the chips were to fall in favor of a new stadium in the current location, how feasible — from a financing point of view — might a that scenario be?

A rough estimate of building a new stadium is between $400-$600 million. When you include the cost of property, that total increases.

Tropicana Field will be paid off in 2016, essentially making the property free if it was chosen as the location of a new stadium. According to the Bay Area Baseball Finance Study, Pinellas County would have an easier time (than Hillsborough County) coming up with $400 million in financing since its tourism coffers are more robust, thanks to beach visitors.

Pransky summarized Pinellas County’s revenue streams,

  • Existing revenue streams already paying for Tropicana Field. Most Trop bonds will be paid off by 2015, so leaders can either stop collecting the taxes, redirect the collections to other city and county needs, or re-direct them to a new stadium. ($115-$148 million over 30 years)
  • Re-direct a portion of the “Penny for Pinellas” local improvement tax to a new stadium. The tax sunsets after 2020, so its bonding capacity would be modest at best without another extension. ($35-$40 million over 30 years)
  • A new 6th-cent added to the tourist/bed tax. Pinellas County, unlike Hillsborough, is considered a “high-tourist” county, so the county could increase the tax on hotel stays from 5% to 6%. ($60 million over 30 years)
  • Re-directing a large portion of St. Petersburg’s share of state sales tax toward a new stadium. The city currently receives more than $12 million/year from the state, and much of it could be leveraged into new stadium bonds. (tens or hundreds of millions over 30 years )

There is a question if TIF money would be available to the city of St. Petersburg, though the Tropicana Field site would need to be considered a Community Redevelopment Area first. $35 million in state money would also be factored in. Assuming Pinellas County chipped in a total of $400 million, the Rays would be on the hook for $65-$165 million.

This of course is simplifying things. But, it is reasonable to assume that financing may be available for a new stadium/multi-land use facility on the Tropicana Field site.

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Projecting the Rays 2015 Starting Rotation

Rays ace Alex Cobb and catcher Rene Rivera share a laugh on the first day of Spring Training. (Photo courtesy of TBO.com)

Rays ace Alex Cobb and catcher Rene Rivera share a laugh on the first day of Spring Training. (Photo courtesy of TBO.com)

By Ian Welsh, with additions by Schmitty

I don’t put much credence into projections and predictions. With that said, projections can offer quite a bit of insight into a mathematically calculated outcome, whereas predictions are a wild stab in the dark by people who look at everything face value. Predictions rarely turn out correct (see the Rays predictions to go to the World Series last year) and projections, more often than not, warrant merit.

FanGraphs released the 2015 Steamer projections for pitchers a short while ago. Schmitty posted a pair of articles about the projected outcomes of the bullpen and offense for the Rays, and now we’ll look at the  starting pitching projections.

Tampa Bay’s starting pitching had a very minimal dent taken out of it, compared to the rest of the team’s depth chart. The Rays dealt once heralded Rookie of the Year winner Jeremy Hellickson to the Arizona Diamondbacks, for Single-A SS Andrew Velazquez, and Single-A OF Justin Williams — both of whom have featured prominently in the Rays top 20 prospects. Aside from Matt Moore’s absence until possibly May or June, while he recovers from Tommy John’s surgery, the starting rotation is intact. That starting rotation has been mentioned as the most formidable in the AL East, and one of the best in the American League — a position the Rays have enjoyed for quite sometime.

The team is projected to have four starters with double-digit wins in 2015, and five coming in below 4.00 in both ERA and FIP. Tampa Bay is projected to improve upon their numbers over the year previous without the dead weight of Erik Bedard and Hellickson, though a whole year without former ace David Price could pose a formidable hurdle to overcome.

Let’s break down the presumed starters

Rays 2015 pitching projections. (Courtesy of Steamer)

Rays 2015 pitching projections. (Courtesy of Steamer)

Rays 2015 pitching projections. (Courtesy of Steamer)

Rays 2015 pitching projections. (Courtesy of Steamer)

Alex Cobb: Alex Cobb has always been a diamond in the rough. Once the bulldog behind James Shields and Price, yet not heralded nearly as much as Matt Moore, Cobb is now the veteran ace of the staff. Cobber shells batters with a no-nonsense approach, and attacks with a pinpoint accurate fastball, a plus curve-ball, and a devastating split/change. While he was sidelined a month or so with an oblique strain, he still posted a 10-9 record (he relinquished three runs or fewer in three of those losses) with a 2.87 ERA (3.23 FIP) in 166.1 innings of work. His 1.136 WHIP and 8.1 K/9 was nothing to scoff at either. He is projected to post a 12-10 record in 2015, with a 3.48 ERA (3.29 FIP) in 192 innings of work. Expect a slight regression in his WHIP (1.22) K/9 (7.96).

Compared to the projections on Price, Cobb falls just off the mark. However, with a healthy season, I could see all these numbers improving.

Chris Archer: Last season was Archer’s first full season in the big leagues, and it wasn’t bad. He pitched to a 10-9 record, slashing 3.33 ERA/3.39 FIP/1.279 WHIP/8.0 K9/0.6 HR9 (tied with Cobb for the lowest on the team) in 192 innings of work. He, unfortunately, posted the highest walk rate on the team with a 3.3 BB/9 and his 2.40 K/BB wasn’t too terribly impressive.

This season he’s projected to regress some with an expected 11-11 record, while slashing 3.88 ERA/3.81 FIP/1.29 WHIP/7.94 K9/3.29 BB9 in 182 innings of work. A few things will help him exceed the expectations placed before him. First, he needs to control the zone and keep the ball on the ground. There’s also a need to perfect that third pitch of his — the change-up he only relied upon 5.2% of the time in 2014. Controlling his emotions will be key as well. Archer has break out stuff, and it’s just a matter of him realizing he has control of it.

Jake Odorizzi: Last season Jake Odorizzi suffered from similar issues of inconsistency with Archer. While he kept pace with Price on hits (156) and homers (20) allowed, he also gave up 59 walks and had an ERA above 4.00 (3.75 FIP). Moreover, he posted the highest WHIP in the Rays starting rotation, and the second highest BB/9 at 3.2. His issues had a lot to do with control, unlike his nibbling predecessor Jeremy Hellickson.

There were more than a few bright spots for Odorizzi to build upon in 2015 — his 9.3 K/9 being one of them. Odorizzi is projected to improve this season. His ERA, WHIP, and BB/9 are projected to drop, and he is projected to post .500 win percentage. With bit more control, and the ability to master his secondary pitches, Odorizzi could begin to perform like a Shields-like pitcher. This year may be the step in that direction.

Drew Smyly: Smyly has been a heck of an acquisition for the Rays. He picked up right where Price left off; hitting the ground running when he landed in Tampa Bay. He exited Detroit with a sub par 9-10 record and a 3.93 ERA. Drew was tagged with more than his fair share of hits, and he wasn’t the most efficient pitcher. Yet that tune changed under Jim Hickey’s tutelage. Smyly all but ditched his change-up and focused on throwing his rising fastball more often. Because of it, he went 3-1 and didn’t relinquish more than three earned runs in each of his seven starts with the Tampa Bay. He gave up fewer hits, earned runs and walks, and tallied more strikeouts on a team that actually had a place for him. What can we expect out of Smyly in his first full season with the Rays?

For whatever reason, Steamer projects Smyly to throw only 125 innings — 28 fewer than in 2014. Sticking with the Steamer projections for a moment, he’s expected to slash 3.50 ERA/3.82 FIP/8.13 K9/2.77 BB9/1.22 WHIP with an 8-7 record. However, Fans (12) projects a much better outcome for Smyly. For one, Fans (12) sees Smyly tossing 189 innings. They also project Smyly to slash 3.21 ERA/3.42 FIP/8.43 K9/2.33 BB9/.296 BABIP with a 76.9% LOB.

The projected uptick in his K9 in 2015 (from 7.82 to 8.43 via Fans (12)) isn’t coincidental. Rising fastballs typically result in whiffs or weak poppers. Smyly’s increased usage of the rising fastball has had (and should continue to have) a similar result. Smyly faced 173 total batters with Tampa Bay last season, coaxing 13 infield fly balls (IFFBs) and striking out 44 batters. As Bradley Woodrum (DRaysBay) writes, “In just 13% of his career (173 batters), he collected exactly 25% of his career IFFBs,” and that has everything to do with Smyly’s different approach as a Ray. There is nothing to suggest that Smyly will regress in any way, shape, or form — rather, for the Rays lefty, the opposite is true. Don’t look now, but David Schoenfield (ESPN) thinks Smyly is a sleeper Cy Young Award candidate.

Matt Moore: Matt Moore only threw in two games in 2014 before he was sent to the DL for the rest of the season, subsequently going under the knife. Previous to that, he came off a stellar 17-4 season which saw a trip to the All-Star game, and whispers of the Cy Young Award. He’s expected to return to the mound some time between mid-May and June. Steamer has him posting a 10-10 record and a 4.04 ERA (4.26 FIP) in 163 innings of work. At a projected 29 starts, I get the feeling that Steamer did not take into consideration his time off. Nevertheless, they have him slashing 1.33 WHIP/8.05 K9/3.74 BB9. I feel like the wins and losses are conservative. I’d imagine there will be some rust to knock off, but we could see a good snapshot of his old, killer stuff.

Others who will factor in 2015

While Moore is out, the Rays will go with an in house option to fill the void instead of signing a veteran starter on the cheap as in previous years (cough…Roberto Hernandez, Erik Bedard). Steamer seems suggest Tampa Bay will start the season with Alex Colome as the fifth starter, then switch to Nathan Karns.

Alex Colome: The Rays have seen Alex Colome twice in both 2013 and 2014, starting six games total and relieving two last season. In 2014 he posted a 2-0 record with a 2.66 ERA in 23 innings pitched. The biggest concern with Colome has always been his fastball command, though he is an effective pitcher and has the raw talent to do great things.

Colome will make the roster in some capacity, because he is out of options.

This season he’s looking to see more games as a starter, at least initially, though he’s projected to post a 5-6 record with a 4.31 ERA (4.59 FIP). While he seems to improve with big league experience, it’s hard to imagine a prospective move to the bullpen would effect his game this much.

Nathan Karns: Rays fans got a look at this relatively unknown pitcher from Durham last season, and many were blown away by his stuff — namely his knuckle curve-ball. Despite a bad year in Durham — where he gave up a career high number of walks and earned runs — Karns saw an efficient, and somewhat mixed bag, in the majors.

Karns went 1-1 in two starts with Tampa Bay, though his first game was spectacular. Karns pitched seven strong shutout innings, and only gave up two hits and two walks, while ringing up eight. His second game…not so much. The Rays need to give him a longer look until we see what he can do. Karns is only projected to see eight games this season, tallying a 4-4 record and a 3.75 ERA (4.16 FIP) along the way. He’s also expected to post a 3.50 BB9 and an 8.49 K9. In the end, his projected numbers are a vast improvement over his performance in Durham last season. Perhaps a longer look in the bullpen would help him adjust to the big leagues? In the end he’s still untested; his major league career is only spans four games. More time on a major league roster could make him a legitimate option in the rotation.

These projections are just that, projections — an equated look at what may happen with the team. Do I think they are conservative? Yes, especially when they are compared to a player’s overall history. I do not know if things like a new manager or coaching staff have factored into these projections. And since a good number of roster moves have taken place since the release of the Steamer projections, some of the presumed statistics may be skewed one direction or another to account for a new infield, a few new faces in the outfield, and a new catcher. To that end, a lot will depend on how well the defense meshes this spring — which, aside from the middle infield, looks like it will improve. I’d like to say most the guys will probably see better numbers than projected, but that is just my opinion. As I said earlier, these numbers tend to be conservative. With that in mind though, things look like they are on the upward trend for the most part with this group of guys. One thing is certain, we are about to find out.

Noteworthiness

  • The Process Report released a quick and concise evaluation of who will make the cut in the Rays infield. It is TPR’s opinion that Curt Casali will win out the backup catching position over Bobby Wilson and Justin O’Conner.
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    Spring Training Camp Update, Day One

    Joking, "I have no idea where to go," said Kevin Cash while he lent a hand during first day as manager. (Photo and caption courtesy of Marc Topkin)

    Joking, “I have no idea where to go,” said Kevin Cash while he lent a hand during first day as manager. (Photo and caption courtesy of Marc Topkin)

    54 of the 63 players on the Rays spring roster reported to camp in Port Charlotte on this, the first official day of Spring Training. Of those players, all of the pitchers who were expected report did with the exceptions of Ronald Beliasario and Alex Colome, who were delayed by visa issues.

    Marc Topkin reported in an entry for the Heater blog, that there has been a lot of talk in the clubhouse about the potential of the overall pitching staff, and how much of a chance that gives the Rays. You may recall, PECOTA projected the Rays to be one of the top teams in baseball as it relates to pitching. On that very subject, Chris Archer chimed in,

    I’m biased but I think … in comparison nobody’s better than us. That’s our strength. There may be some other teams with one that’s better guy than one guy. But collectively I think we’re better than anybody in the league.

    Monday morning’s meeting and workout was a chance to close the book on the Joe Maddon/Andrew Friedman era. One noticeable difference, Cash held the pre-workout meeting in the clubhouse rather than on the field in full fiew of fans and media. And while many will continue to compare and contrast the new regime o the one previous, the opportunity to put everything behind them was palpable with more than a few Rays.

    The questions about Kevin Cash and the new outlook for our team are getting a little old because this happened like three months ago and it’s time to start the season, Chris Archer said. Everybody knows there’s question marks. I’m ready to stop talking about it and show people. I don’t mind the questions but I’m ready to show people.

    Archer continued,

    He’s in a Cubs uniform (Maddon), I’m not thinking about him anymore as far as like a manager. As a person, it would be cool to catch up with him if I get a chance. But I’m not thinking about anything in the past, I’m thinking about the present moment.

    Yesterday I wrote about what the middle infield might look like in 2015. Today Asdrubal Cabrera took ground balls at both second base and shortstop, and the Rays will have to decide which spot is best.

    Cabrera said he’d be open to playing either second or short for the Rays, however he would prefer one spot rather than botching between both. “Cash said they will be flexible early in the spring as they have a number of guys to look at but would hope to make a decision sooner or later,” writes Marc Topkin.

    Former closer Grant Balfour was the only pitcher who did not throw his scheduled bullpen session. Balfour reportedly feels fine, and the plan — counting back from opening day — is to limit him to 8-9 Spring Training games as a matter of conserving strength. While he may be a week behind the others, Balfour has been throwing regularly at the Trop.

    Finally, Topkin offered a video report from Monday’s first official workout (produced by Will Vragovic).

    Note: We’ll update this piece if anything else comes out of Port Charlotte.

     

    Noteworthiness

    • Early this morning, Boston landed international infield prospect Yoan Moncada, signing the Cuban born ball player to a record $31.5M bonus, on which the Red Sox will pay a 100% penalty. That bonus does not include the salary to be made by Moncada. Rays LHP Drew Smyly took exception with that amount of money being thrown at a Top-10 in MLB prospect, tweeting,

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    Why Sternberg’s “2022” Deadline Comment Means Nothing (Re-post from SOTS)

    Sunday's front page headline from the Tampa Bay Times. (Photo courtesy of Noah Pransky)

    Sunday’s front page headline from the Tampa Bay Times. (Photo courtesy of Noah Pransky)

    Here I was prepared to write a diatribe on Stu Sternberg’s heavy handed announcement that he will look for new stadium sites by 2022, with or without St. Pete’s blessing. Then it dawned on me, Noah Pransky (Shadow of the Stadium blog) wrote a short and concise piece on how Sternberg’s 2022 deadline is, essentially, moot — why not re-post that piece in its entirety? After all, it summed things up well, and casted shade on Stu’s glaring attempt to regain leverage in the Stadium Saga.

    Per Pransky,

    Stu Sternberg tells reporters he’s going to look for new stadium sites by 2022, with or without St. Pete’s blessing.  But:

    All Sternberg said is – sometime in the next seven years – he’ll need to start looking at 2028 stadium options.  Which is no surprise, given the team’s current contract with St. Pete prohibits the Rays from exploring any move prior to 2028.

    So in short: Sternberg said he’d continue to honor the team’s business deal and will spend the next seven years if necessary trying to improve it.  At least that’s better than his previously-mentioned alternative.

    Noteworthiness

    So: The Tampa Bay Times asked Sternberg if, given that it would take a few years to build a stadium, and the Rays‘ lease is up after 2027, he’d start looking around for stadium sites a few years before then. And Sternberg said — wait for it! — yes, he would. Though given that, as Noah Pransky (yes, him again) points out, Sternberg can’t actually start negotiating with any other cities before 2028, as spelled out in that lease (which the St. Pete council is refusing to let him out of), he’d be limited to just looking. Which you have to figure he’s doing already anyway, right? So, not much of a story, probably the kind of thing you’d bury in the back.

    They don’t make Pulitzer Prizes like they used to.

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