Dont rule out Andrew Friedman as Cubs next GM

Dont rule out Andrew Friedman as Cubs next GM

When I made my list of GM candidates, I had a few people ask me about Andrew Friedman, the soon to be free agent GM of the Tampa Rays.  It's a valid question. Friedman is one of the strongest candidates out there from an analytical standpoint, and he has built a very strong organization to compete with the games two biggest giants, the Yankees and Red Sox, in the AL East.

He also has more experience than any candidate I listed.  So why not Friedman?

My first thought was that I just didn't think he was all that attainable.  If he does indeed become a free agent GM, then the Cubs will have to compete with Friedman's hometown team, the Houston Astros.  There are some reasons, however, to think he could be in play for the Cubs...

1. The Cubs GM spot is the best position available.  A big market and an owner who wants to win -- and Ricketts will invest in player development, scouting, and well, pretty much whatever any GM would want. Don't think that other execs around the league didn't notice how Ricketts helped seal the deal on the Cubs best draft in a decade.  There's also lots of money coming off the books and any GM will inherit the most financial flexibility this team has seen in years.

2. Friedman isn't one of the top scouting GMs in the game, he relied heavily on Gary Hunsicker to shore up some of his weaknesses.  On the bright side, the Cubs do have Tim Wilken and Oneri Fleita, two of the most respected old school scouts in the game for him to lean on.  Wilken and Fleita have also shown they can be flexible as far as taking a more modern approach, specifically focusing on  players with more OBP potential of late.

3. By firing Hendry before the season is over, the Cubs have a head start on Houston while they resolve their ownership situation.  Ricketts wants to start the process as soon as possible.  Could it be that he's looking to get the jump on Friedman and some of the other bigger candidates out there?

4. It may be in his best interests to leave the AL East where he would have to compete not just with the Yankees and Red Sox, but now  the emerging Blue Jays as well.  The NL Central, on the other hand, can seemingly be won by any team at any time.  Of course, that doesn't differentiate the Cubs from the Astros in anyway, but I think the first 3 reasons on this list make a good case for the Cubs being the better choice than simply picking his hometown team.

Some reports have Friedman listed as a longshot candidate for the Cubs, but it doesn't mean they shouldn't kick the tires just in case.  If Friedman reciprocates serious interest, then the Cubs should make an honest effort to land him.  I'm still a huge fan of Ben Cherington and I still believe he has the best all-around skill set out there, but Friedman's track record can't be denied.  My dream scenario is for the job to come down to these two guys.  If that happens, the Cubs simply can't lose either way.

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  • For the sake of argument...I actually prefer Friedman as GM, based on your writings, as I don't know anything about these GM guys otherwise.

    I know from your tweet earlier today that you were hating on the idea of running the team like a small market team, but I support it, in a way.

    I like the idea of developing from within, and making intelligent personnel decisions. His experiences with managing the payroll will help him avoid frivolous overpayment, and understanding his personal weaknesses is a strength (delegating scouting to the scouts).

    The bottom line is that I like the idea of augmenting small-market intelligence with the resources available to the Cubs.

  • I have nothing against building from within and making intelligent decisions...but I also don't think the Cubs should be in a rush to trade Garza -- especially at the deadline when you are less likely to get anything of value. A small market team has to constantly rebuild when a player passes his peak years, a big market team doesn't have to.

    I don't think you'll ever see Boston, for example, trading someone like Lester if they happen to be nearing free agency. Granted, their chances to win right now are much better than the Cubs, but I think at some point you have to keep your talent. You can't just keep trying to find front line starters year after year. Would rather run the team with a mix of small and big market principles like Boston than run it similar to a team that doesn't have the resources to retain talent.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I've never (that I remember) been calling for Garza to be traded. Thats the difference in my argument vs your tweet. That we develop guys, and make these trades utilizing prospect resources, but instead of renting him, we can sign him and retain him through the peak years of his career.

  • In reply to Cameron Macpherson:

    My tweet wasn't in regard to anything you said. It was in response to another article (which shall remain nameless) that once again claimed the Cubs should have traded Garza during the deadline.

    I agree 100% with your general stance on building from within with prospects. Then using our resources to make wise decisions about resigning them.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I could see an argument for Friedman. If he was the guy, I'd be very happy. You'd probably have to expand Wilken's role a little bit, or hire a new Asst. GM with a strong scouting background. My guess would be, though, that it'd be hard to find an Asst. GM whom Friedman could respect more than Wilken when it comes to scouting.

    The Cubs need to have a guy in by the winter meetings at the latest. They can probably get by in the fall with Bush, Wilken, and Fleita making decisions on things like the AZ fall league and other things -- but you need your guys in place well before the meetings start rolling around. Hoping we have our guy within a couple of months at the latest.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I suppose we would have to wait until October 1st or so to bring him in?

  • In reply to Cameron Macpherson:

    It would be nice, not sure if it's possible. Teams would have to agree to let their GMs go before the MLB season is over. Free agency typically begins in the second week or so of November. You'd hope to have somebody in well before then. Lots of important stuff starts happening in December....winter meetings, rule 5 draft, arbitration decisions, non-tender decisions...

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    So this is where your argument for Cherington fits in? An Asst. GM could just go interview and sign with a team at will?

  • In reply to Cameron Macpherson:

    It's a part of the equation, though not really a major one. It certainly helps though if you can get a guy as early as possible. It's no coincidence Ricketts cut ties with Hendry before the year was out. I'm sure he recognizes the urgency to get started on his search.

    Tampa shouldn't be too bad though because they'll be done at the end of the regular season -- and they do have an experienced baseball man in Hunsicker to take the reins until Friedman is replaced.

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    I know this is kind of irrelevant, but is Marwin Gonzalez a legit prospect? He's 22 and hitting .280 at AAA. He also has a .359 OBP. Your thoughts?

  • In reply to Gabe Hauari:

    The .359 OBP was at Tennessee, he's .323 at Iowa. Since moving to AAA he hasn't been all that great. One upside is that he has a very strong ability to put the ball in play and not strike out. But I'm seeing no exceptional traits offensively. I don't know about his defense.

    I would expect him to spend all of next season at AAA, then we'll see how he progresses. As it is, he isn't someone I'm tagging as a future Chicago Cub.

  • In reply to Cameron Macpherson:

    Above average defender, can play 3 infield positions fairly well....average runner...handles the bat well but not a great hitter. He can be a utility guy in the bigs but likely nothing more than that.

  • In reply to Gabe Hauari:

    I think he's a legit utility prospect. I don't think he'll overtake Barney and if he did, he wouldn't really be an upgrade at this point. I listed him as one of the guys we may see in September. He has to be put on the 40 man before the rule 5 draft or the Cubs risk losing him. If they intend to keep him, it makes sense that they may add him a little early and use him to rest Castro and Barney more toward the end of the year, though I'm sure Castro wants to stay in the lineup and go for 200 hits.

  • Friedman rightfully should be considered a strong candidate based upon his track record with the Rays. Also, if I understood another article correctly, he works without a contract for Tampa Bay which in theory reduces the complexity of hiring him even before the season is over, should that be an issue. Friedman certainly strengthens the candidate pool.

  • In reply to kansasblackhawk:

    His contract situation is definitely a plus for any team interested in hiring him.

  • One name that I haven't seen raised in the GM discussion is Billy Beane. He seems to have a pretty strong combination of new school (he helped create it) thinking and old school (horse trading) sensibilities. I can't imagine that he's enamored with the Oakland situation (budget, ballpark, etc.) and that he wouldn't be interested in the Cubs opening. A couple of drawbacks might be his outsized ego and his recent track record as measured by W-L, but there shouldn't be too much of an argument against his skills and ability for this job. Thoughts?

  • In reply to kansasblackhawk:

    I wrote an article about Beane as GM a little over a month ago...

    http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2011/07/what-about-billy-beane/

    Some of it mentions the very thing you just did about Beane's possible frustrations of constantly working with a low budget. The thing is now that other teams are using his principles, he can't really monopolize on all the undervalued players out there. With the Cubs, he'd get a boost from more financial flexibility. I think he'd definitely be interested.

    One issue would be that his contract extends through next season and the A's may not let him go easily, although they have a capable replacement in David Forst. It may require compensation. Not sure what they would ask for (if they do in fact, ask for compensation), but when Florida asked about Ozzie Guillen last season, the Sox asked for top power prospect Mike Stanton. That's a steep price and Florida passed...for now.

    It's a huge opportunity for any GM...Beane passed up a chance to GM Boston a few years back, maybe this time he'll take the opportunity to work with more resources.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If Oakland has David Forst waiting in the wings, but Beane has another year on his contract why not look into Forst instead? He has obviously been tutored by Beane and knows the concepts and approaches that have made Beane successful, but he would bring some of his own ideas with him.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    I'd really like for the Cubs to look into Forst. He's a sharp mind and one of baseball's better GM prospects. Oakland won't let him go without a fight as he is the heir apparent to Beane.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It seems from his comments that Ricketts is looking for a GM with a demonstrated track record in the GM position, which may rule out people like Forst, Cherington, et al. That would be too bad but it is not an irrational position to take for (what should be) a top market team.

  • In reply to kansasblackhawk:

    He said he'd consider AGMs but it does seem he favors an experienced guy.

    It makes sense if the new GM is going to be flying without a net with no real PBO...tough to put a young guy in that situation.

    All that being said, I'll be ecstatic if the new GM turns out to be Freidman.

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    It's worth noting that Friedman and Wilken have worked together before. So it's not like they would be totally unfamiliar with each other. Also, almost no GM is going to be good in every facet. That is why you hire good people, who are experts in the areas you are weak in, and delegate. In fact, not having a strong scouting background can be a blessing at times. Hendry has a scouting background and found it impossible to show any objectivity about the players he personally liked.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Good points Michael. I think not only are they familiar, they have a mutual respect for each other. It has the potential to be even better now because Friedman has worked for a few years now with Hunsicker, an old school guy and has gotten much better at communicating with his scouting team. Wilken also seems to have adapted somewhat to some statistical trends in the past couple of drafts, picking guys with better plate discipline rather than just toolsy guys like Colvin or pure hitters like Vitters.

    And maybe instead of getting one guy who's balanced in all areas, you can have balance with two separate guys.

  • While Andrew Friedman is a good candidate, I think he is a long shot.Everybody is reading the tea leaves and assumes Ricketts wants a existing GM, I don't think that's the case. I have read in a lot of places lately that many baseball insiders cannot remember when then there was so many excellent prospective candidates out there, like asst GM's , scouting directors ect.... That's where Ricketts is headed .

  • In reply to rodeosteve:

    I agree that he is a long shot, but of the experienced GMs, he's easily my favorite and the best fit.

    If the Cubs decide to go the AGM route, then Cherington's my guy. I'm trying to figure out exactly where Ricketts said he preferred an experienced GM. Listening to the press conference again...last time I heard it I was in my car, so maybe I missed it.

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    Cashman told NBC that he is not interested in the Cubs job, and Friedman told Fox that he is not jumping at the chance to take the Astros job, but he had no comment when asked about the Cubs job.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I wasn't too big on Cashman so I'm not crushed there..

    Really interesting stuff on Friedman. Everyone assumed he'd be very interested in the Houston job. I'm encouraged by the fact that he didn't dismiss the Cubs spot quite as easily.

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    I'm not surprised. He and his wife and their parents are from the Houston area, but the Astros are a far worse mess than the Cubs, which is saying something. They have no farm system to speak of, and they don't have the financial means to fix themselves as easily. The Cubs can simply offer a lot more than the Astros in terms of the job.

    The only advice I would give any GM who might get the job is not to actually live in Illinois. Indiana isn't that far away, and it is a lot more tax friendly state.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    No question the Cubs job is much, much more attractive to any serious GM. And Andrew Friedman is by all accounts a serious GM.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agree. If he were as Asst GM with a high upside, the Astros might be a good choice for developing a track record. Personally, I can't see him moving from the cachet of the AL East to the NL Central without that move being to either the Cubs or the Cardinals (which is moot).

  • In reply to kansasblackhawk:

    If I were Houston and Freidman spurned me, I'd go after one of the Texas guys like Thad Levine or AJ Preller...home state guys, great track records with a model organization.

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