DRays Bay Takes on Stuart Sternberg, Devil Rays Owner

This is an interview that needs no introduction and I'll let it speak for itself

-Jake
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RJ Anderson: So Mr. Sternberg, how does it feel to be an owner of a professional baseball franchise?

Stuart Sternberg: Feels great, there is a lot of responsibility that comes with the title.

Jake: Not counting you, how many people are in the ownership that bought the majority ownership in the Rays? Also, could you explain the process of buying a baseball team?

Stuart Sternberg: 5 others, it is a pretty extensive process and all potential owners are vetted extensively.

RJ: Obviously the team has tried separating itself from the old regime, for good reason, were all of the changes part of the initial plan that began before the purchase, or were they brought up as the turnover of regimes began?

Stu: There was no particular time that the changes were contemplated. It was a very fluid process

Jake: Do you plan on moving to St. Petersburg anytime soon or do you prefer the situation that you have now with you making semi-frequent trips from NY-to-FL?

Stu: My plan for the foreseeable future is to remain a NY resident

RJ: What about Andrew Friedman and Matthew Silverman made them key components of the new front office?

Stu: Andrew and Matt are bright ,energetic , right thinking young men with a passion for business and baseball

Jake: I've always heard of a story in which either you or Maddon wrote a 42-page email encompassing "The Rays Way" and alot of people(who had the opportunity to read it) loved it and it bought them into the organization,  was it you that wrote it? If so, can I have a copy of it? Kidding kidding, could you explain some of the thoughts that were passed along in that email?

Stu: The organization put that together in order to try and show what we hoped to represent.

RJ: Growing up a Mets fan, I'm sure you remember the 'Amazing Mets' run, do you see any similarities between those Mets and these upcoming Rays?

Stu: Most expansion teams have a similar trajectory.

Jake: I know that we've touched on this before, but what are your thoughts on the almost vile(from a Rays fan's point-of-view), tongue-in-cheek articles that have been written by Joe Henderson, Gary Shelton and John Romano? Do you think that they're being hypocrites after they went without bashing the old regime for 7 out of the 8 years, but gave you and the NDRO less than a 15 month waiting period before turning against you?

Stu: I am not familiar with the medias stance the first 7 or 8 years so I am unable to comment on the comparison. By and large I feel they have done a great job reporting.

RJ: The Evan Longoria selection was unfairly categorized as 'cheap' the day of the draft, nearing a year later it appears the organization made a great selection, come June would cost play into the selection what so ever?

Stu: He wasn't cheap when we wrote the check. Money is not the key issue when drafting an amateur player

Jake: Many publications have termed the Rays Farm System as being "The Best in Baseball" with a great majority of our best prospects being in their Top 100 lists. How much credit do you guys take for putting the Farm System in that upper echelon?

Stu: A number of the people involved with getting the farm system where it is today are still here, I would like to think that we have been additive to the process.

RJ: I hate to keep hitting on money, but some feel the team made no effort to improve, obviously mistaking the fact that the young players will progress and replacing them with elder players would be quite foolish at this point, what do you think when you hear or read these comments from your own home media?

Stu: We believe that each and every player that makes our 25 man roster can  improve on last years performance. I would expect those players feel the same way.

Jake: When Andy, Gerry, Matt and you get together and pick the players that you're going to target in Free Agency or in trades, how do you go about it? Is there certain criteria that a player has to fit before you make the move?

Stu: We certainly fish in a different pond than the high revenue clubs. Having said that , it is important that the players can help us for a number of years. We are not in the market for one year and out.

RJ: Without imposing too much into the Rays 'secrets' did the team place a bid on Daisuke Matsuzaka?

Stu:I won't comment on another organizations players.

Jake: Out of the 3 big name japanese players that were posted, how many did the Rays post a bid on?

Stu: Ditto

Jake: In my opinion, the next big pitcher that will come out of Japan will be a player by the name of Yu Darvish. Have you ever heard of this 20 year old with amazing upside?

Stu: Ditto

RJ: Obviously a big part of the first week of your ownership was the re-signing of Rocco Baldelli to a (upfront at least) team friendly contract, is this going to be a main technique used over the years to retain players?

Stu: If a player wants to be here and the feeling is mutual then we would hope that could be accomplished

Jake: Million dollar question, is Scott Kazmir the next Rays player that you guys plan on trying to getting a contract extension with?

Stu: Scott is a very valuable part of this organization.

RJ: The team added Akinori Iwamura over the off-season, part of the improvements made to the infield defense that were promised, with that in mind, how does the new turf plan to play into the velocity of ground balls? Basically will it slow them down substantially?

Stu: Until it gets played on we wont know for certain. Our sense is that it will play truer to grass than the old turf.  

Jake: Could you explain what you guys seen in Akinori Iwamura to make him a huge target in Free Agency?

Stu: Aki seems to have the right stuff and fills a need for us.

RJ: Another ballpark feature would be the new video boards and the cownose rays tank, what were the thoughts behind these additions?

Stu: To bring some more fun and interest into the ballpark.

Jake:  ESPN, on numerous occasions and sometimes at no end, make Tropicana to be a dark, dank jail-cell like building. Do you guys plan on doing anything with the exterior of Tropicana that will make it "not so gray"?

Stu: We are infinitely more focused on the interior and the entire organization. That said some minor improvements were made to the exterior last year and we expect more this season and next.

RJ: There has been talk of lowering the left field wall so Carl Crawford can produce some 'Torii Hunter' like web gems, is the thinking also slanted towards the right handed hitting lineup? Also will the wall indeed be lowered or has a final decision been reached yet?

Stu: Down it goes as we speak.

Jake: Right now, the Devil Rays are in the envious position of having 3 cornerstone outfielders. How do you feel about the Rays having 3 Outfielders that have yet to hit their "peak years"(27-31) locked up for the next 4-6 years?

Stu: The more positions that we can feel somewhat secure about, the better.

RJ: A lot of people seem to worry over the Orlando series as a way for the organization to try and move, though to the logical ones it's just an attempt at expanding the market, and considering the lease it's not as if the Rays can bolt, nor would they choose to anytime soon, do you care to address the former whom seem to think you want to move away from the St. Pete area?

Stu: We need to and will ,extend our fan base

Jake: Could you explain how you became familiar with our little blog? I felt a bit starstruck when you told me this, so could you care to re-tell this story?

Stu: Goes back a few years, the internet can be a marvelous tool. I was directed to the site and found it to be thoughtful,  informative and insightful. I also spend quite a bit of time on the fan board at our teams site on MLB.com .

Jake:Any hints on anything to do with the possible color-scheme changes or ideas for jerseys? My idea is having all of our jerseys, home and away, being sleeveless which would make our players more aero-dynamic and enables the fans to see just "how big" a player is. Note that's just my thoughts, but I think I'd be willing to let you guys use it. Hahahaha

Stu: We are working on that currently, though sleeveless might be out.

RJ: Do you have anything to address our readers, your team's fans about?

Stu: Thank you for leading our faithful following. Your support will be rewarded by our performance on the field. Count on it.

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