'Money won't be an object' for Rays … maybe

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Earlier Tuesday there was a report that the Tampa Bay Rays might be in on the chase for Cliff Lee. Later on, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg (pictured) was talking big about his budget and how even though it is “beyond stretched,” he was willing to open the purse strings. From Marc Topkin:

Asked if the Rays could make a “significant” addition, Sternberg replied: “By any means necessary. We’ll do whatever — money won’t be an object. Players are always an object for us. And the money will be an impediment, but we’ll figure it out if it makes all the sense in the world for this team.”

“Any means necessary!” How exciting for Rays fans. Well wait a minute. Hold on. What was that thing he said about an “impediment?”

Clarifying further on the money quote, Sternberg said, “it’s an impediment, it’s certainly a large impediment. And (Andrew) reminds me of what it means for the future because basically what it is is you’re borrowing from the future on your chances this year and possibly recouping some of it. But that’s not a business plan to say we’re going to play five- and seven-game series right through the end of the World Series, it’s not something you can count on.”

Oh.

So what does it all mean? Are the Rays willing to spend money or not? Will they deal prospects for a player like Lee? Perhaps. After all, a half-season of Lee would only cost the Rays about $4 million, and then they can let him walk as a Type A free agent after the season and net a pair of draft picks. That could make some sense.

But the Rays aren’t going to go wild chasing pricey players with long-term contracts. In fact, they might not do anything at all. Remember, they were saying these sorts of things last year as well.

The words “by any means necessary” just carry a lot more credibility coming out of the mouth of something like, say, Brian Cashman.

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Max Scherzer will not be ready for Opening Day

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Ten days ago Nationals ace Max Scherzer said he’d be ready for the start of the regular season. “I’m gonna do it,” Scherzer said.

[Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice] — No, he’s not:

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said that Max Scherzer is not on track to be the team’s opening day starter, and will most likely open the season as the third pitcher in the rotation.

He’s still projected to make it to the opening rotation, taking the hill, most likely, on Thursday April 6 against the Marlins. At least if the schedule doesn’t slip any more.

Scherzer, as you probably know, has a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, which has messed with his preparation and has caused him to alter his grip a bit. As of now Stephen Strasburg will get the Opening Day nod.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.