Dodgers Devil Rays Dukes BaseballLarry Stone of The Seattle Times has a column today looking at the 2009 Rays and how the Mariners hope to follow in their footsteps.

In Don Wakamatsu, [Mariners GM Jack] Zduriencik saw many of the same qualities that made Maddon a successful manager — organization, intelligence, teaching ability and energy…”There’s a lot of parallels,” he said. “If Don becomes a Joe Maddon, I think we’ll all be real happy.”

Stone spoke with Andrew Friedman for the piece, but the really good stuff did not make the cut. Stone included some of those quotes in his blog. Here are a couple of our favorites…

On whether defense (something we have called the Rays’ “Moneyball”) is still an exploitable commodity:

“Certainly, it’s pretty popular now,” he said. “It’s something that, just like any other facet of the game, if you put too much emphasis on it…Our goal is not just to improve our defense, but to be more well-rounded, with footspeed, power in the middle of the lineup, our pitching. We felt we had reached that point last offseason, but for us, it wasn’t just about defense.”

On whether the Rays will be able to find other overlooked areas to exploit:

“We certainly think there are some,” he said. “Maybe not as substanative. Certainly, we feel there are, and always will be. The nature of the game — really, human nature — is that people tend to gravitate toward the same things at the same time. As a result, other things are under-appreciated. Our job is to try to figure out what they are, and try to take advantage.”

On whether it is more difficult now that other teams (such as the Mariners) are using a more statistical approach:

“Absolutely,” he said with a laugh. “I didn’t say we’d be able to accomplish it. I said it was our goal.”

What scares us is that the Rays have spent the last three years exploiting a giant hole in the baseball world. Defense comprises maybe one-third of the game. While doing so, they nearly hit a home run on almost every move they made. That got the team to the top of the American League mountain. But now other teams have closed the gap. And as World B. Friedman points out, the windows of exploitation are smaller. Can the Rays maintain success, even if they continue to hit home runs with all their moves? And what happens if the Rays strike out on a few?

In the end, it might not matter that the Rays have one of the smartest front offices in baseball and it might not matter that they have one of the best managers in baseball. Without the resources of a big market ballcub00, it might just be impossible to be consistently competitive without a lot of luck.

What will the Rays do for an encore? [Seattle Times]
Lots more good stuff from Tampa Bay Rays’ GM Andrew Friedman and Jack Zduriencik [Seattle Times]

 
 

4 Comments

  1. bobrittner says:

    “Can the Rays maintain success, even if they continue to hit home runs with all their moves? And what happens if the Rays strike out on a few?”
    _______________________________________________________________________
    This is a good question, but I want to point out that the Rays have not hit a home run with all or even most of their moves. Acquiring Pena is certainly one, but he is of course one of dozens of scrapheap moves most of which predictably flopped. As for trades, the Garza/Bartlett deal seems to be another home run. Otherwise the record is distinctly mixed.

    Getting Navarro, Aybar and Zobrist now appear worthwhile, as do Balfour and Howell, and getting Jackson landed us Joyce in the end which may work out, although it is also possible that dealing away Jackson does not pan out.

    Otherwise, here are other acquisitions via trades: Joel Guzman, Jae Seo, Chuck Tiffany, Glenn Gibson (for Dukes who is now looking very good), Ruggiano, Talbot, Pedroza, Thayer and many more who have not succeeded in TB.

    That is not to say they were bad deals. On the contrary, they made perfect sense at the time and were often necessary. And by deepening the system, they served a purpose even if the individuals did not make the majors. But we need to understand that Friedman has and in the future will continue to make deals that seem to be failures.

    Some fans foolishly try to evaluate a GM by listing the pluses and minuses of his deals instead of understanding the guiding principles behind them. We have to be careful not to feed that kind of thinking by overstressing the home runs and increasing the expectations that they will be duplicated regularly.

  2. Brixology says:

    I still think Glenn Gibson for Dukes was a good deal. At the time and now. And nothing will ever change my mind.

    • I feel exactly the same way.

      • bobrittner says:

        Yes, so do I. That is my point. I am not complaining about any of the deals. I am simply pointing out that sometimes the reasoning is correct but the results are not what you hoped. It has happened and will again, but it will not make Friedman less of an excellent GM.

        Even if Zobrist had not developed into what appears to be a solid bench player, and should Talbot never make the majors, dealing Huff was necessary at the time and the return made sense. Both players fit the model the Rays were seeking. Same with the deal of Lugo and the others as well. At the time that he traded Branyan, Russell’s value was nil and Friedman still got back 2 young pitchers, Meek and Thayer. Neither has seem the majors yet and may never while Branyan may help Seattle this year. Still, it was a remarkable success for Friedman at the time.

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