Friedman Is A Step In The Right Direction But Roadblocks Remain

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

So big news obviously. Enter Andrew Friedman, Rays supergenius who has made it a habit of competing in the American League East every single year where the average payroll figure was like 700 million dollars above the Rays, or something. Ned Colletti’s staying. And nobody really knows who’s going to be the general manager next season. Kasten’s guy, Bryan Minniti who just left the Nationals organization is a possibility. Kim Ng? Nobody knows at this point, Friedman may want his own guy as the GM, as well as manager. Joe Maddon is a free agent next season, and this is pretty much the sole reason that Don Mattingly is going to endure another season that questions his job security.

Regardless, Ned Colletti was not a great general manager, he was not exceptional at free agent signings, he did not pull the trigger on any sort of trades come the trade deadline, although that might have been because Stan Kasten and all his genius we dole out to him so frequently denied Ned any chance at working a trade by making Zach Lee (!!!!!!!) UNTOUCHABLE. That’s unacceptable, but another post for another time.

But ironically, the trading aspect, which was one thing Ned Colletti was really good at was something Friedman could have been better at. Different scenarios of course, one was generally “selling”, and the other was generally “buying” in deals. I’m speaking in reference to the David Price and James Shields deals. He stood pat with David Price a bit longer than he should have. He held out for more value in the Wil Myers for James Shields trade, and some would argue a bit too long.

Friedman was great in understanding what he had to trade, yet standing pat and waiting for value has been somewhat of a problem. The point i’m trying to get across is this: imagine a scenario where Ned Colletti was the Rays general manager, and he traded David Price, face of the franchise, for Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin, and minor league shortstop Willy Adames?

There would be mass anger and confusion as to how David Price could have been traded for a #4 starter, a position player that may or may not hit major league pitching (and gets crushed by fastballs) and a lottery ticket shortstop that nobody really heard of until he was traded for David Price. Colletti would have been killed in that situation.

Continuing on with this point, I think there’s something to the thought that general managing a small market team is different from general managing a large market team. Maybe Friedman implements his plan early on by signing Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, and Julio Urias to long, cheap, cost effective deals as minor leaguers, but other than that there’s not a whole lot he can do.

A “smart” GM (President Of Baseball Operations) generally doesn’t usually sign Andre Ethier to 5 year 85 million dollar extensions. A “smart” GM probably doesn’t give out 7 years 142 million dollars to Carl Crawford, or sign Adrian Gonzalez to a 7 year 154 million dollar deal. GM’s who are generally regarded as above average find ways around that, they find the 2013 James Loney type bargains, they extend the Evan Longorias to incredibly team friendly deals. They develop the farm system, they build cheap bullpens. Friedman could very well be a great hire, but the money that he probably won’t even use won’t make him one. Part of that is the nature that he has, Friedman was great because of how he masterfully assembled a roster, and didn’t just throw around large wads of cash at useful, but overpaid players. You’ll note that the things Friedman didn’t do are the reasons that the Dodgers are in contention in the first place.

But another reason that the money probably won’t make a difference in Friedman’s ability to lead the Dodgers has to do with the massive amounts of money tied up into resources the Dodgers are already paying. For example, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and to an extent, Clayton Kershaw are some of the reasons that Friedman may not have a huge impact on the major league roster for awhile. There have been numerous reports that the Dodgers want to cut costs, and while Friedman is probably an ideal guy to do just that, the Dodgers are already at a figure close to 200 million dollars. This is where the bargain hunting helps immensely, but it’s also a reminder that the “money” Friedman “has” isn’t going to factor into his success with the major league squad until at least after the large contracts left over from the Ned Colletti era expire.
Another reason for caution regarding Friedman has to do with the drafting. I don’t know how much of this has to do with Friedman himself, but the fact of the matter is that the drafting has been poor for the Rays since David Price.

2008-Tim Beckham

2009- LeVon Washington

2010-Josh Sale

2010- Justin O’Conner

2010- Drew Vetteson

2011- Taylor Guerrieri

2011- Mikie Mahtook

2011- Jake Hager

2011 Brandon Martin

2011- Tyler Goeddel

2011- Jeff Ames

2011- Blake Snell

2011- Kes Carter

2011 Grayson Garvin

2011 James Harris

2012- Richie Shaffer

2013- Nick Ciuffo

2013- Ryne Stanek

2014- Casey Gillaspie

So that is not flattering in the least. The best name on there is probably noted drugie Taylor Guerreri who is also recovering from Tommy John surgery. But those names are like taking the Dodgers drafting history since Kershaw, and actively trying to be worse than that. Again, I do not know how much of that has to do with the general manager, and there are a TON of scouting positions up for grabs in the Dodger organization, but it’s something to be wary about. The Rays have been active in the international department recently, probably to compensate for the terrible drafting, but at least that’s a positive.

Plus who knows how he will adjust to not running a baseball team from a “day to day” standpoint”

All in all, Ned Colletti is not the Dodger GM anymore, but still with the organization, and that’s not a bad thing, Andrew Friedman is in the organization, and the Dodgers have added one of the best, young executives to their organization, and anytime you do that it’s a huge win. The problems I have listed sure exist, but they’re a hell of a lot better to have than what was in place before, and that’s a great thing for an organization not too far off of a trip to the World Series.

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