Rays owner Stuart Sternberg just offered both a realistic and a hopeful assessment of the state of play in the AL East, as MLB.com’s Juan Toribio was among those to report on Twitter.
“Our division is going to be hard because we have the best team or the second best team in baseball that we’re competing against, which is the usual,” says Sternberg. “But I think we’re going to give them a run for their money.”
One imagines the owner of the low-budget Rays winking as he delivered that last line. Of course, what’s scariest about the Yankees — presumably, that best/second-best team he was referring to — isn’t their money, standing alone. It’s the fact that they’ve committed to a disciplined, altogether Rays-like process for spending it.
That’s not to say this isn’t a good time to strike. In fact, it may be as good a window as any for the Rays with the Red Sox dealing away Mookie Betts and the Blue Jays still ramping up. With former Rays exec Chaim Bloom now in charge of baseball ops in Boston, there’s another streamlined death star under construction. And the Toronto organization has a new slate of hopeful young stars, so it could soon also be a threat. The Orioles … well, they may be further off, but they’re undertaking their own modernization efforts.
Despite their financial limitations, the Rays have compiled yet another intriguing roster that’s loaded with flexibility. Is it enough to take down the Yanks? We know the Bronx Bombers will be the favorite in most quarters, so let’s approach the subject this way: what are the odds the Rays can win the division?
(Poll link for app users)