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Winning is not the objective

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays may have one of the worst records and lowest player payrolls in Major League Baseball, but their financial picture apparently is strong.

In fact, the team is among the most profitable teams in baseball, booking $27.2 million in operating income in 2004, according to new financial analysis by Forbes magazine.

The Rays had a higher operating income - earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization - than any other team in the major leagues last year except the Baltimore Orioles, according to an estimate published in the latest edition of the magazine.

...The Forbes analysis and ranking comes on the heels of Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella and fans complaining that team management isn't spending enough to recruit top quality players. Its $29 million payroll is baseball's lowest.

$20 million in revenue sharing - a welcome subsidy for teams that choose not to compete - is responsible in part for the rosy financials of the Rays. King George, you can be sure, is fuming.

I get the sense that the Rays' strategy is not about winning games in Tampa, but rather to cash in on a move to better digs, and perhaps the sale of the franchise.

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