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Purse Strings Loosened: Sternberg Says Payroll Not An Issue At Deadline

Stuart Sternberg: "Money won't be an object" in making in-season additions to improve the team's chances to make the playoffs.

Ever since Sternberg gained majority ownership of this team, Raysfans have waited for a statement like this. It probably wasn't a realistic expectation to have, seeing as how the team had yet to win more than 70 games in a season to that point. But Stu (may I call you Stu?) gave us all hope. In 'The Shawshank Redemption', Morgan Freeman'scharacter, Red, tells us that "Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane." I'm sure that was a sentiment shared by many Rays fans during the Naimoli reign, when campaigns such as the "Hit Show", which ultimately failed miserably, were misguidingly force-fed to the community.

That line from Freeman came during the middle of the film when things looked bleak for the protagonist, Andy Dufrense, played by Tim Robbins. When Andy finally (spoiler alert!) escapes, he explains to Red the error in his logic, stating in a letter "...hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things..." This is sure to be the feeling of all the Rays fans who persevered through those tough Naimoli seasons to see the team blossom into what it has become.

We've said many times on this site that this is the Rays' best opportunity, perhaps ever, to win a title and that the team should do whatever it takes to put themselves in the best position possible to do so. Sternberg's statements are the first step in that direction. He added that "our eye is really about making the post-season", which now looks like an easier path with the Red Sox injuries piling up, but that's not something that can be counted on. Adding a player like Cliff Lee would give the Rays an additional 3-4 wins, and while that would be on the top end of the spectrum, even adding a 1-2 win player(s) might be what it takes to secure a playoff birth. However, don't take Stu's statement and run too far with it. While money isn't an object I would assume that only goes so far. Don't expect the team to take on $10 million+ in salary. Something in the ~$8 million range is a more feasiable option.

While this news has to be music to Andrew Friedman's ears, it doesn't mean the Rays will make a deal. Friedman isn't going to make a trade just because he has some wiggle room financially or to appease a hungry fan base. He's too smart for that. If there isn't a move out there that he finds suitable I wouldn't blame him in the slightest for not pulling the proverbial trigger. That being said, we've seen the type of creativity displayed by Friedman when he's had very little room to work with, so I'm excited at the prospect of what he'll do given this newly found wealth.

Currently the Rays are two games back in the AL East and have a firm grasp on the Wild Card. The second half of the season should provide one of the tightest and most exciting pennant races of the last 10 years. The Rays could win it as currently constituted, but if spending a few million more virtually guarantees more victories then that is a risk they have to take. I'm glad that the team I root for has an owner that feels the same way. Stu has left Andrew the money in the tin to get this team to Ziwataneo. Lets go.