The Common Man, over at Sweet Spot member The Platoon Advantage, posted this on Thursday ranking the work each big league front office put in this winter.
If you just follow the club through the newspapers, you might be surprised to see the Rays come in third. Don’t be. TCM hits the nail right on the head by noting that the Rays took nothing (the sure-thing that Crawford et al were leaving for more money) and turned it into something (key prospects and 12 of the first 90 picks in the deep 2011 amateur draft).
That alone makes for a solid winter, but Andrew Friedman and Co. did more. Any analysis limited solely to the moves a front office made is incomplete. We also have to look at the moves Friedman chose not to make as well to get the full picture of his performance.
Not only did the Rays acquire prospects and picks that will bolster the depth of the organization and hopefully extend the current run of success at the Trop, they also avoided any franchise killing potholes. Based on the Rays’ cautious approach this winter, it appears that Friedman has taken the lessons of Pat Burrell to heart. (In fact, given the pace of the DH market, it almost feels like Friedman is protecting against any future Burrell by asking the agents of the remaining DH options to swear that their client won’t spend any time cougar-hunting at Ocean Prime).
Look back through the list:
- Friedman didn’t panic when Joaquin Benoit, Jesse Crain, and Matt Guerrier got overpaid;
- Friedman didn’t cave when Grant Balfour tried to pin him to a no-arbitration agreement or two guaranteed years giving the Balfour money to Kyle Farnsworth;
- He also hasn’t panicked in the search for a “closer” or overpaid Adam LaRoche or Derrek Lee to play first base.
Rather, Friedman has stood confidently on the parts of the roster the Rays still control (parts that several experts have estimated are worth about 88-90 wins already) and preserved the Rays’ prized salary flexibility. His reward is a talent-rich DH market that fits his budget (thanks to Jim Thome’s market-setting $3MM) and plenty of solid relievers who are certainly getting anxious with spring training approaching.
Friedman’s prudence might be rewarded this summer (when the Rays should have enough flexibility to add a piece at the deadline if they are in the hunt) or next winter when they supplement their newly tested parts to make another run in 2012.
That said, when the Rays hoist the World Series trophy in 2012 or 2013 we might look back at this winter and remember that those teams were built on patience and prudence.