This Dan Johnson thing is out of control. How does it not have a nickname* yet?
More importantly, how does it not make any member of the media turn back and look at the GM suite?
The Rays current 40-man roster, you know the 40 men who have compiled the best record in baseball, is littered with gems that Friedman scooped up off the trash heap. That is the only way a team with the Rays’ financial resources can continue to run door-to-door with the Yankees through turn three into the home stretch.
Friedman signed Joaquin Benoit, Randy Choate, Lance Cormier, Dan Johnson, Carlos Pena, and Gabe Kapler when no one else was interested. In fact, Benoit, Johnson, and Pena were signed to minor league contracts.
Those 6 players have a combined WAR of 2.5 in 2010. (and two memorable late inning hits this weekend)
Then, Friedman acquired Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett (for Delmon Young, who couldn’t run enough to play in the Rays outfield and was a clubhouse cancer, and Brendan Harris, who was a throw-in infielder), Ben Zobrist (for Aubrey Huff, who two other franchises have realized is a paper tiger), JP Howell (for Joey Gathright, whom the Rays had identified as a one-trick pony), Chad Qualls (for a player whose name will ultimately be “cash”), Sean Rodriguez (for Scott Kazmir, whom the Rays properly identified as overrated), Willy Aybar (for Jeff Ridgway, a bad LH reliever that was made irrelevant by the emergence of JP Howell), Grant Balfour (for Seth McClung who had eaten his way out of the rotation) Matt Joyce (for Edwin Jackson that, despite his good first half in 2009 and no-hitter this year, has been perfectly mediocre and would not have a spot in the 2010 Rays rotation) and Kelly Shoppach (for Mitch Talbot, a pitcher acquired in the Huff trade that was the odd-prospect out in the Rays pitching ranks) in trades for players the Rays would ultimately have released because they didn’t fit the roster or plan.
Those 9 players (not including Howell, who was incredibly in ’08 and ’09 but has been hurt for all of ’10) have a combined 2010 WAR of 9.9.
So, all told, Andrew Friedman turned a bunch of spare parts the team needed to dump and some pieces other teams already dumped, into 12.4 wins through shrewd analysis and decisionmaking.
Those 12.4 wins are especially relevant in a season that the Rays are 6.5 games in front of Boston in the wild card race.
(Just for the record, Friedman also supervised the drafts that netted the Rays Evan Longoria (2006), David Price (2007), and signed Rafael Soriano, who have a combined WAR of 10.7. I left these three acquisitions out of the above analysis because any GM in the league would have drafted Price and Longoria and Soriano was a known quantity when Friedman signed him.)
*”DJ” and “DanJo” are not nicknames.