Through nine seasons as the Rays general manager, Andrew Friedman built a contender and a reputation. Tampa Bay became a true force in the American League, and Friedman became one of the most respected executives in the game. Yesterday, the Dodgers lured him to Los Angeles.
“This is about our ability to add Andrew Friedman, specifically,” team president Stan Kasten said.
Given his success in building a division rival, Friedman’s move to the West Coast is surely welcome news for the Yankees. Unless, of course, he’s not the only one lured to Hollywood.
Friedman is becoming the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations and will hire a new general manager to work alongside (or under) him. And as usually happens when there’s a general manager opening, Billy Eppler’s name has floated into the rumor mill.
Eppler has never been a GM, but he’s been a Brian Cashman assistant for years. He had plenty of success stories within the Yankees pro-scouting department — big-money contracts might have become real problems, but the Yankees have found some short-term gems on several buy-low free agents — and he’s become one of the most important voices in the organization. You see his name mentioned often because he’s an easy guy to like and respect. He talks baseball with a real sense of logic.
And he’s from Southern California, so there’s some natural appeal in Los Angeles even without the big-name franchise, high-end payroll and well-respected new executive.
Could be that the Dodgers lean a different direction. Could be the job won’t appeal to Eppler in the end. But every time a job like this opens, the Yankees have a chance to lose one of their own top front office pieces.
Associated Press photo
Here’s the latest from the Associated Press about the second game of Major League Baseball’s exhibition tour of Taiwan. Curtis Granderson had the big home run in the first game. Robinson Cano had the big hit in the second game.
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Robinson Cano doubled in a run in the seventh inning to help an MLB All-Star team beat Taiwan’s national team 5-3 Thursday in the second game of a five-game series.
The New York Yankees’ second baseman also singled and scored in the sixth inning in the game in Taichung.
“They got a great team,” Cano said. “They played a pretty good game.”
The Taiwanese went ahead 3-2 in the fifth, scoring twice on three hits and a walk. The MLB squad tied it in the sixth and added two more runs in the seventh.
Relievers Rich Thompson of the Los Angeles Angels, Ramon Ramirez of the San Francisco Giants and Bill Bray of the Cincinnati Reds kept the Taiwanese scoreless from the sixth inning on.
In the series opener Tuesday, the MLB team won 7-0 in a game halted in the sixth inning because of rain. The teams play in Taichung on Friday before closing the series with two weekend games in Kaohsiung.
• Chien-Ming Wang is heading back to the Nationals. The Washington Post reports that Wang got a one-year deal worth $4 million to return to the Nats’ rotation.
• Don’t count on the Yankees keeping scouting director Damon Oppenheimer just yet. The Orioles still haven’t picked a GM, and the Baltimore Sun reports that Oppenheimer is among those who could still interview for the job. We learned earlier that Yankees pro scouting director Billy Eppler was apparently the runner-up for the Angels GM job.
• Yankees prospects Mason Williams and Dante Bichette Jr. were named the Topps Player of the Year in the New York-Penn League and Gulf Coast League.
• Former Yankees outfielder Juan Rivera was one of the first significant free agents to sign with a new team, agreeing to a one-year deal with the Dodgers.
• Outfielder Jordan Parraz, who had a terrific season with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this year, has signed a minor league deal with the Braves. It includes separate language if he makes the big league club.
• After his one-year stint in the Yankees front office, it took Kevin Towers just one year to land an extension as the GM in Arizona.
Associated Press photo
You never know what you’re going to get • 03.28.10
On a day when he wasn’t pitching and seemed to have answered every possible question about his assignment to the bullpen, Joba Chamberlain found himself surrounded by reporters on Sunday.
“You come to the ballpark, you never know what you’re going to get,” he said.
All of the attention centered on a radio interview with pro scouting director Billy Eppler, who said he did not think it was likely Chamberlain would be competing for a rotation spot next season.
“I can’t look ahead to three years from now or next year,” Chamberlain said. “I have to be thinking about the situation I’m in now and try to embrace it and go with it. If I get caught up in looking at, in five years I want to do this, then I’m not doing my job now.”
Brian Cashman said Eppler’s comments were a matter of opinion, not an official stance of the Yankees. The Yankees, he said, have not had a formal discussion about Chamberlain’s ultimate role beyond the start of this season.
“Billy’s good,” Cashman said. “He’s been an asset, and he’s going to continue to be an asset. But this is also a growth spurt. He’s going to be something special in this game. I’m glad that you guys have access to him. Give an opinion, and although at times I might disagree with his opinion, he makes us better. I want him out there talking to you guys as much as he can. I don’t want him to shy away from his opinion. I support that opinion, although maybe I disagree with a variance of what he said. I want him to speak.”
And here’s Cashman.
My own opinion: This incident speaks more to the nature of the Chamberlain situation than to any sort of divide in the organization. It’s great to hear a guy like Eppler give his opinion — and Dave Eiland too — but I tend to believe Cashman when he says nothing has been decided. The Yankees might very well be leaning toward keeping Chamberlain in the pen, but I don’t think anyone will have a set-in-stone answer until the end of the season at the earliest.
As an aside, I first came across the Eppler interview when someone emailed to say Eppler was touting my paintball experience on WFAN. If you listen past the Chamberlain bit, you’ll hear him admit to shooting me in the back of the head on Friday. At least he’s an honest scoundrel.