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Can the Rockies land an Andrew Friedman?

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Tuesday, October 20, 2020

If we assume the average MLB analytics department isn’t as comprehensive as the Rays or Dodgers, what could the Rockies do to get there?

The Dodgers currently employ Andrew Friedman as president of baseball operations, but it was his masterful work in Tampa Bay that propelled him into executive stardom. Friedman held a similar vice president position with the Rays starting in 2006 before moving to Los Angeles in 2014. Both his current and former employer will be on full display as they face off tonight in the World Series.

Last Friday, Jared Diamond of The Wall Street Journal addressed how the Rays, circa 2012, cultivated some of the brightest analytical executives in the modern baseball landscape:

At baseball’s trade deadline one summer seven or eight years ago, Andrew Friedman took stock of what the Tampa Bay Rays had built. He was surrounded by Chaim Bloom, James Click, Erik Neander—a trio of executives he had hired as interns and nurtured to create one of the most unlikely success stories in baseball history.

Bloom is now the chief of baseball operations for the Red Sox. Click is now the general manager of the Astros. Neander is now the GM of the Rays.

Maybe all it takes to win is one key person with an impermeable strategy, and a cast of players that can bring the masterpiece to life.

Richard Justice of wrote last year: “The Rays have been at the forefront of baseball’s information age since owner Stuart Sternberg assumed control of the franchise in October 2005.” It certainly appears their conference room, circa 2012, fostered conversations that have continued to shape the game. Such an analytical presence could be a prerequisite in turning a bottom-five payroll into a 2020 AL pennant winner. Neander is now the executive in charge of that masterpiece.

Perhaps all the Rockies need to push toward that advanced direction is to hire a comparable figure and give them the biggest set of keys they can find.

(The Cincinnati Reds pursued a similar strategy in hiring Driveline’s Kyle Boddy to further their pitching development; they subsequently earned 2020’s highest strikeout percentage. Perhaps Cincinnati’s pitching instructors, currently under Boddy, will find their way to other franchises in the same manner that Bloom, Click and Neander did.)

Jeff Bridich was the Rockies’ senior director of player development before taking over GM duties in late 2014. If the environment in Colorado during the Dan O’Dowd era wasn’t heavily based in analytics, Bridich couldn’t immerse himself with insights like Tampa Bay had (and likely kept proprietary). It isn’t Bridich’s fault for what existed before his GM tenure—he could only work with what he had—but an inside hire may have kept the Rockies from gaining a seat at the modern analytical table.

Eight years ago, the Rays were busy constructing the table itself.

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Dodgers Get Another Opportunity to End The Championship Drought | Sports Illustrated

Tracy Ringolsby gives us a Rockies-based view on the Dodger championship woes. “The Dodgers last won the World Series in 1988 — five years before the Colorado Rockies and Miami Marlins played the first game in the history of their franchises.”

Ringolsby includes the managerial history of the Dodgers in each of their postseason appearances since their last championship. Colorado has gone through seven managers in franchise history, while the Dodgers have seen nine over that span.

Colorado Rockies non-tender candidate: Chi Chi Gonzalez | RoxPile

Noah Yingling of RoxPile outlines whether Chi Chi Gonzalez will find himself in Rockies pinstripes next year. He will turn 29 prior to next season; starting pitcher Tim Melville was 30 when he was released by the Rockies prior to the 2020 season.

Links included in feature:
The Rays Will Win the World Series. Even if They Lose. | The Wall Street Journal ($) (8/16/20)
How the Rays quietly built a great team | (8/25/19)
Detailing Andrew Friedman’s recent work: How the NL champion Dodgers were built | theScore

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