"We've been very up front in everything we intended to do," Sternberg said from New York. "We had a plan, and it wasn't an overnight thing that was going to happen. It's still early in the game as far as where we want to get to and need to get to. ... (But) fans can look at this and see we've got a guy (Pena) committed to be here in his free-agent year, following (Carl) Crawford and (Rocco) Baldelli and now Shields as well, guys that are well-above-average players that want to be here, and the team is making a commitment to it.
"Between that and the planned stadium, I hope people feel as energized as we do."
The Rays are working on a deal, up to seven years with options, for Shields, who won't be eligible for arbitration until 2010 and free agency until 2013, and could have it done next week. "I'm optimistic," Sternberg said.
I'm glad to admit I was wrong about what we would do this off-season, I took that 20% comment far too literally, thankfully that wasn't the case, but the improvements made to the team are more important than the payroll number anyways.