It only makes sense that the Cubs would have interest in Andrew Friedman to fill their vacant general manager job.
And the two Chicago papers have certainly made a point to remind them with 13 stories mentioning Friedman in the first six days after Jim Hendry was fired.
Friedman seems to fit exactly the description of what Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said he is looking for: commitment to player development, strength in analytics and advanced metrics, track record of success in a winning culture.
And the Cubs have only to look at their most recent deal with the Rays to be reminded how shrewd of a trader and talent evaluator Friedman can be:
RHP Matt Garza is 6-10 and OF Fernando Perez was released from Triple A (with throw-in LHP Zach Rosscup on the Class A disabled list), while OF Sam Fuld has been solid and occasionally Super, OF Brandon Guyer and SS Hak-Ju Lee look every bit like big-time prospects, and C Robinson Chirinos (who just spent a month in the majors) and RHP Chris Archer (just promoted to Triple A) continue to show promise.
Even Rays manager Joe Maddon, who doesn't want his boss to leave, understands the appeal.
"He's one of the best there is right now, and on top of that, he's young and he's had success here," Maddon said. "So he's got all these wonderful qualities. I think also his educational background fits in today's game well. More than anything, if you break him down, all that he's capable of doing and what we've done here, that's what makes him so interesting."
There is a perception in Chicago, and around baseball, that Friedman would be eager to move to a big-market team with money, lots of money, to spend after fighting the constant uphill — heck, up-mountain — battle of running a bargain-shopping small-market team against the mega-rich Evil Empire and Red Sox Nation. AL East fatigue, they're calling it.
That, though, is where the story breaks down. Because Friedman, who declined comment on the speculation, actually likes the situation he's in in terms of who he works with, what they're trying to do and how they do it.
So maybe hold off on that private table at Harry Caray's just yet.
"That's where they're going to make their mistake. It's not about that," Maddon said. "We love what we do here, and we've got a great thing going on. So I'm sure that this is all very complimentary to him.
"But at the end of the day, just don't think because this is a glamorous situation he's going to want to jump to it. That's not true."
No matter how much autonomy Ricketts could promise Friedman, it still won't be the same as the unique open relationship he has with team president Matt Silverman and principal owner Stuart Sternberg as they were all acquainted before they took over the Rays. And similarly with Maddon now.
Though the Cubs could offer millions to tempt Friedman — who does not have a contract per Sternberg's policy with top executives — this may well be a case where money isn't the issue. (And it wouldn't be a surprise for Sternberg in that case to make it right for Friedman to stay.) Similarly, Friedman has been mentioned as a candidate to take over his hometown Astros under their pending new ownership.
"That's the part people don't understand," Maddon said. "So as everybody is considering all this, understand one thing: that it's not normal here. In a sense, it's abnormal. And I mean that in the most positive way. We have this abnormally great relationship here that it's hard for anybody to want to leave."
Windy City window
Having spent six years in the Cubs organization and parts of three in Chicago, OF Sam Fuld knows how badly they want to win. And as soon as GM Jim Hendry was fired, he knew Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman's name would surface.
"I didn't need to read any of the articles about the prospects," he said. "Anyone in the game would understand that he'd be one of their top choices."
Cubs RHP Matt Garza also gave Friedman his endorsement, telling Chicago media: "I think he'd be great here."
Such a move could create some interesting dynamics (besides whether Friedman could trade Garza again and get more).
"I was joking with somebody that he wouldn't know what to do with $140 million — it's way out of his range," Fuld said. "But I'm sure he would do just fine and find a way to spend it wisely."
Next season tentatively starts at home vs. the Yankees on April 6 and ends at home vs. Baltimore. … RHP James Shields and raysbaseball.com writer Bill Chastain collaborated on a book, September Nights, about last season that will be released this week as an e-book, with some proceeds going to charity. … It would seem to say something that the Rays had Orestes Destrade and Todd Kalas fill in when radio man Andy Freed was ill rather than Rich Herrera, who did so in the past. Also that Rusty Kath is now hosting the watch parties. … SI's Joe Posnanski writes: "Ben Zobrist, one more time, is having the best year that nobody's noticing." … Who knew Tigers RHP Brad Penny, engaged to Playboy-posing dancer Karina Smirnoff, was so dedicated to protecting the youth of Tampa Bay that he'd scream (what looked like pretty bad words) at Sean Rodriguez for cursing on the field. … Not exactly surprising that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told the Los Angeles Times that ex-Rays C Dioner Navarro was dumped because of his work ethic and lack of physical and mental preparation.
Got a minute? | Jeremy Hellickson
King of Queens
Band you'd like to be on stage with?
I'm not a big music guy, but I'll go with Rascal Flatts.
Steak and potatoes
I cleaned the stadium and did concessions at (Triple-A) Iowa Cubs games (in his hometown of Des Moines). I think that's the only job I've had.
I t only makes sense that the Cubs would have interest in Andrew Friedman to fill their vacant general manager job. And the two Chicago papers have certainly made a point to remind them with 13 stories mentioning Friedman in the first six days after Jim Hendry was fired. Friedman seems to fit exactly the description of what Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said he is looking for: commitment to player development, strength in analytics and advanced metrics, track record of success in a winning culture.