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Carter Gaddis Visits DRAY BAY

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DB: I was amazed with what the new owner had to say. To know we have an owner who realizes reaching out to the community is important and fixing step by step what has gone wrong.

CG: I got to the Vinoy early, around 10:30, and ran into Matt, Stu and Gary Goldring coming into the ball room. They had just heard about Selig's statement, basically endorsing the change even before it became "official." I did a quick appearance with the local NBC affiliate, WFLA-Channel 8, answering questions about the impending announcement. Then we went in and waited for the news conference/announcement. I was struck by Stu's enthusiasm. He was short on specifics, but the free parking thing was a nice first move. After Stu's speech, he retired to a small room upstairs for one-on-one interviews with first the TV people, then the print folks. The Tribune had four writers and one editor on-site, and we were the first group of print folks in with Stu. While he ate his lunch, he answered our questions with his usual aplomb. Then we all came back to the Tribune/Channel 8 office in Tampa and wrote our stories. I thought Scott Carter's profile on Stu was particularly good, and we were the only paper that had fresh comments from his mom, who we reached in Brooklyn by phone.

DB: Stuart spoke about ownership asking what they can do for the fan rather
than the appraoch of the past. What can the Devil Rays do for the fans...

CG: The best thing the Devil Rays can do for the fans is win. I know that sounds obvious, but I know this sports market. We saw it with the Bucs and Lightning, and even with the Tampa Bay Storm in the mid-90s and the USF Bulls basketball team in the early '90s. When a team wins, this area embraces it.

DB: I've heard rumor of a name change of this franchise. How realistic is that...

CG: Initially, my inclination was to dismiss the possibility of a name change. But, when I asked Stu about it Thursday, he said simply that the name will remain the same for now, but it would be "looked into." My guess is that they'll drop the "Devil," if they do anything at all.

DB: What do you know about Mr Matt Silverman that the fan does not know. How
much impact has he had so far even before he was named president?

I've known Matt since he came into the organization, and personally, I like him. He's incredibly bright, and even though he seems kind of all-business when you first meet him, he does have an irreverent, creative side. It was in our profile of him today, so this you might already know: Before he came to the Rays, during a hiatus from Wall Street, he tried his hand at writing a novel. As a writer myself, that fact impressed me. Matt was instrumental (as Sternberg's voice within the organization) in getting the marquee built and other esthetic improvements over the past couple of years at Tropicana Field. He'll do a lot more in the coming months, I'm sure.

DB: Will Sternberg be making a similar residence arangement like Yankees
owner Mr. Streinbrenner living in Tampa or will he pretty much be up in
NY most of the time?

Stu has said he'll spend a lot of time in the Tampa Bay area, but he plans to remain a full-time New York resident. His kids are in school up there, and he's a big family guy, so that's the main reason he'll stay in Harrison, N.Y. Matt and Andrew Friedman moved to Tampa a couple of years ago, though, and they are like an extension of Stu down here.

DB: We know that payroll will be better. What do you think the organization's approach will be with phenoms Upton and Young for next year?

My best guess right now about B.J. Upton and Delmon Young is that they'll begin next season with Durham again. Part of that is to prevent starting their arbitration clock too early, but part of it is the new decision-makers aren't convinced they're absolutely ready to be major-league players. Now, that said, that opinion could change as we move through the off-season. Personally, I think the team could plug both of those guys into the lineup next year and be better for it. Especially Young, who won't be a liability defensively and whose attitude might be affected negatively if he has to go back to the minors.

DB: Which players stuck around for the news conference?

The four players who showed up Thursday were Toby Hall, Rocco Baldelli (who's still in town rehabbing his right elbow), Danys Baez and Doug Waechter. They all seemed excited about the day.

DB: Any idea of  what they are looking for in a General manager and a
manager?  Do you think they will talk to alot of people or do you think
they already have someone in mind?

For GM (if they even have someone with that title), Stu wants someone unafraid of new ideas but cognizant of the tried-and-true methods of building contenders. Don't be surprised if they go the direction so many teams have gone of late, hiring a business-minded person whose acumen outweighs his lack of experience as a GM. For manager, I think they'll look for their Eric Wedge, a guy with managing experience in the minors (or coaching experience in the majors) who is completely in line with their way of thinking about development toward contendership.

DB: Lastly,  I like the baby steps approach of building a class baseball
organiaztion, every little bit helps. Do you think  it take years to
repair damages of the previous ownerhip group?

I think Stu and Friends already have begun to build a better relationship with the paying public. Thursday's news conference created a buzz like I hadn't seen since the team began play in 1998. Here's one way of putting it into perspective: The Bucs are 4-0, the Lightning are off to a rousing start in their defense of the Stanley Cup, yet the only thing anybody wanted to talk about on local sports radio this morning was Rays, Rays, Rays. The team's philosophy for winning is still in its development stages, but this much we know: There will be no repeat of the Hit Show impatience/ineptitude. These guys are serious about a long-term commitment to this area, what Silverman called a "generational commitment." So far, so good in the Stu Sternberg era.