The 30 GM's: Andrew Friedman Of The Tampa Bay Devil RaysAuthored by Douglas Benton - 23rd March, 2007 - 12:05 pm
It?s the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. They have never been in playoff contention, never have had a winning season or even played a meaningful game past April, but someone has to be their general manger. That man is Andrew Friedman, who is being assisted by a veteran in Gerry Hunsicker.
The Devil Rays have a wealth of young players, but those players usually wear on the patience of the fans and don?t produce results for the regime which brought them in. This is the case in Tampa Bay with former general manger Chuck LaMar, who was let go after the 2005 season, ending his eight-year run with the franchise.
Some of those young players Friedman now has the luxury to build around are outfielders Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli and Delmon Young, infielder B.J. Upton and starting pitcher Scott Kazmir. Going into the 2007 season, Crawford is the star of this group, even if he isn?t known well nationally.
With these pieces already in place, Friedman?s task was to create a new identity for the Devil Rays organization that had its life strangled out of them by LaMar and to a larger extent, former manager Lou Piniella. He took care of the managerial problem when he hired Los Angeles Angles bench coach Joe Maddon.
Maddon had been a talked-about candidate ever since the Angles won the World Series in 2002, but was never given the chance on multiple occasions. However, Tampa Bay did give him that chance for the 2006 season and even though his record was porous at best, he showed a strong knack for managing a game and a high baseball IQ to make the adjustments needed. His only problem was he didn?t have the talent to execute regularly and his own inexperience in certain situations.
With his manager in place, Friedman next had to bring in substantial talent and he just hasn?t done it. The best players on the team are the same names LaMar and Piniella had during their tenure. If it wasn?t good enough for them, it won?t be good enough now.
Friedman only has had one year with this group to be fair, but the people in Tampa Bay are becoming inpatient and their lack of support could force the team to move in the future. Friedman will be given a chance to win in Tampa Bay, but with a man like Hunsicker in the wings, that chance might not be long enough for Friedman.
Signature Move: This goes to show his lack of activity in the player market, but Friedman?s signature move is his hiring of Joe Maddon. It is very important to be successful on your first managerial hire and all of the early returns show he did that. The young players are in place and so is the manager, so all Friedman has to do is add complementary players and see if they can turn the corner as a franchise for good.
Douglas Benton can be reached at Douglas.Benton@realgm.com