A few weeks ago, I wrote a post reminding everyone that Andrew Friedman and Gerry Hunsicker don’t get enough credit for their shrewd decisionmaking and ability to identify value where other teams missed it.
But, they make bad decisions too. I was talking with a few friends Wednesday night who were bemoaning the Rays’ offensive struggles in the ALDS. In the end, they concluded that there was nothing that could have been done this year. While I still think that most Rays fans are being too hard on the team, I am at least willing to admit that three personnel decisions, made over the course of 3+ years, cost the Rays a shot at the World Series.
- December 7, 2006: Josh Hamilton was reinstated from the restricted list by Major League Baseball on June 30, 2006 and played a few months of baseball with the high-A Hudson Valley Renegades. Then, after holding onto Hamilton while he spent 4 years battling his demons, the Rays exposed him in the Rule V draft as soon as he finally was ready to return to baseball full time. The rest, as they say, is history. I will never understand why the Rays were happy to wait Hammer out just to give him away for $250K. (Gosh, even if we thought living in the Bay Area would expose Hamilton to an unacceptable risk of recidivism — because his drug addiction was born in the seedy underbelly of St. Petersburg — we could have at least traded him for a quality player. See, Volquez, Edison.)
- 2008 Amateur Draft: The Rays, holding the first overall pick, take high-school shortstop Tim Beckham who spent this past summer with the Charlotte Stone Crabs where he made 25 errors and put together a .256/.346/.359 slash line at the plate. Here are the players the Rays did not draft in 2008: Buster Posey 5th overall to San Francisco (I hear he is a pretty good right-handed hitting catcher, did we need one of those?); Justin Smoak, 11th overall to Texas, (who, you may remember, was the lynchpin that pried Cliff Lee out of Seattle).
- May 19, 2010: The Rays release Pat Burrell. I know, at the time of his release Burrell had a .315 OBP, was slugging just .367, and hit a whopping 2 HR in 96 plate appearances. But, even Joe Maddon admitted that Burrell was struggling as a DH because he couldn’t stay engaged when he wasn’t playing in the outfield. The perplexing question remains, why didn’t we try him in the outfield? It isn’t as if we had such an established rightfielder that Burrell was going to disrupt things. (In case you want to argue that point, remember that Desmond Jennings started in RF in Game 2 of the ALDS). After his move to SF — and accompanying return to the outfield — Burrell’s slugging percentage went up to .509 and he hit 18 HR.