Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tampa Bay Rays: Small Market Team?

One of my colleagues,Noah Pransky published a story on 10connects.com about the Rays and their label as a small-market team. In it he points out that the Tampa Bay market is the 14th largest television market, yet the Rays spend less on payroll than several teams in lower television markets. So, to automatically label the Tampa Bay Rays as small market is a bit disingenuous.

I agree with much of what Noah is saying.  The Rays ownership are running the team based on an acceptable profit margin for them. Ownership has said they need to keep payroll around $65 million to maintain their margins. The question is: What margins are they shooting for?

To answer that question, you have to decide whether ownership is in the business to make money or are they in the business for ego.  The more ego involved, the more likely they are to decrease those profit margins. However, if ownership is looking for specific returns on their investment, then expect more moves like the Kazmir trade. Or it could be some sort of combination of both. Taking risks (increasing payroll for a run this years) when they present themselves or bailing out when those risks don't look like they're going to pay off.

Overall, I have to give the Rays management credit for turning this franchise around. The fact that I actually care enough to get upset about the Kazmir trade is huge turnaround from the first few years of this franchise.  I love what they've done with the team and I only critique because I care. I'm anxious to see what this off-season holds. Are we going to see more "money moves" or "winning moves?"

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