Rays general manager Andrew Friedman was spotted last week having dinner with Angels owner Arte Moreno and Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that he’s their No. 1 target to replace Tony Reagins, but there’s plenty of doubt about whether Friedman actually wants the job.
In fact, according to DiGiovanna’s sources “their chances of luring the 34-year-old executive away from the Rays are slim” and “Friedman’s loyalty to Tampa Bay owner Stuart Sternberg … appears to be the biggest obstacle to the Angels luring him to Anaheim.”
DiGiovanna reports that the Angels would offer Friedman the role of team president, allowing him to choose a GM to work under him much like Theo Epstein is doing with the Cubs. And he’d also have more than triple the payroll to work with, as the Rays spent $42 million players this year compared to $142 million by the Angels.
Either he’s holding out for a better job–of which there realistically aren’t a ton, given the Angels’ annual payroll rankings–or Friedman truly loves Tampa Bay.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉