Here’s what you need to know about Andrew Friedman: He wrote a farewell letter to a Rays blog. Seriously.
Here’s what else you need to know: Everything, probably. I’m guessing that most Dodger fans don’t know much about him other than “guy who made the Rays good without any payroll,” and while that’s not inaccurate, it’s also incomplete.
Friedman is 37, married with two sons, a native of Texas, and a graduate of Tulane, where he briefly played outfield. After a few years at BearSterns and MidMark Capital, he joined the Rays in 2004 and was named GM in 2005. The Rays, fighting the Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East, have made the playoffs four times since, and also won 90 games in 2012, though they missed the postseason. Tampa Bay made it to the World Series in 2008, losing to the Phillies, though he was named the Sporting News Executive of the Year.
Really, at this point, you should all be looking for a copy of Jonah Keri’s The Extra Two Percent, which details how Friedman, owner Stu Sternberg, and team president Matt Silverman went from Wall Street executives to running a baseball team, applying what they’d learned on Wall Street to more efficiently running the club. (Purchase here.)
His Tampa Bay tenure hasn’t been perfect, because it’s just not possible to have been. They haven’t had a first-round pick make any impact since David Price, drafted in 2007. He gave three years to James Loney. He traded Price for a package that was roundly criticized, though Drew Smyly certainly made that look much better after he went to the Rays.
What he and his yet-to-be-named GM walk into with the Dodgers is a considerably different situation than he had in Tampa Bay, though I’ll add that anyone that wonders how a former Wall Street exec is going to respond to huge amounts of money is probably missing the point. Dealing with far more involvement from above — not to mention whatever Colletti is going to do — than he had with the Rays will be a real concern.
With Tampa Bay, he dealt with little red tape or interference. The power trio was Friedman, owner Stu Sternberg and team president Matt Silverman. They all came from financial backgrounds. They spoke the same language. They had unbreakable trust. There was no meddling from elsewhere. If those three agreed, the Rays did it. That enabled Tampa Bay to operate with limited dysfunction and disruption. Even the top officials would admit part of their success was based on richer clubs having more complex decision processes that slowed them down, caused dissension and created hard feelings.
All that said, the Dodgers wanted him, obviously…
Hear #Dodgers were talking to Friedman for “weeks” — even before LA’s disappointing playoff exit
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) October 14, 2014
… and we all wanted a change. Getting an executive who has proven he knows how to win with little, who respects math and things like pitch-framing — why do you think Jose Molina has a job — and giving him unlimited funds? It’s a dream come true, even if it doesn’t guarantee anything at all. You should be thrilled. I know I am.