There is a saying that bad news doesn’t get better with time. However, announcing plans to cut payroll while your team is in the middle of a division race can’t be a good idea.

That’s exactly what Tampa Bay Rays owner Stu Sternberg did when he announced that even if the Rays win the World Series payroll will be cut in 2011. The current estimate is that the Rays will cut this year’s $72 million payroll by $15-20 million.

Prior to Tuesday’s game Sternberg said,  “Unfortunately there’s nothing that can happen between now and April that can change that unless Joe Maddon hits the lottery and wants to donate it, or I hit the lottery.”

This is the reality of having one of the best teams on the field coupled with one of the worst attendances. The Rays have done everything to try to boost attendance and revenue including hosting postgame concerts on Saturday’s in the summer. There were even empty seats when the Yankees and Red Sox recently played in Tropicana Field.

With the upcoming reduction in payroll the Rays will be fielding an even younger team. The starting lineup this season has an average age of 26 years old.

Here are four Rays rookies that will be critical in the franchise’s future.

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