Rays GM Andrew Friedman's theme song right now - should I stay or should I go?

By Curtis Stelzer

English punk rock band The Clash sang “Should I stay or should I go?” back in 1981 – and right now – that has to be the theme song for Tampa Bay Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Andrew Friedman.  Friedman is possibly the most attractive GM in Major League Baseball in the last 15-20 years.  In 2008, Friedman was named Executive of the Year by the Sporting News.  And now – he will possibly be offered two or three jobs (if he hasn’t already) that will be insanely tough for him to either turn down or to choose which one to take.

Here are 3 destinations that I can see Friedman going to at the end of the 2011 season:

The 2 Favorites

Houston Astros – Friedman is from Houston – born and raised.  Taking over the Astros would be as close as Friedman could get to building a team from the ground up.  It is almost an expansion team – except they already have a beautiful park in place and a great fan base (at least when they are winning).  The Astros have the worst record in baseball right now at 42-85 – and they have a 5 game lead on the Baltimore Orioles for being the worst team in baseball.  The Astros have only one bright spot in the Majors right now – and that is young 25 year old starting pitcher Bud Norris.  Norris has only 6 wins even though his ERA is 3.61 and he also has struck out 145 batters so far in 2011.  But that is the only bright spot for a very sad Astros franchise.  Houston’s payroll is 20th in MLB this year ($70.7 Million), but Carlos Lee’s $19 Million a year is up at the end of next year, Brett Myers $12 Million a year is up at the end of next year and Wandy Rodriguez is due $10.5M in 2012 and $13.5M in 2013 – and then Wandy is a free agent.  Talk about a lot of useless money falling off the books in the next 2 years.

Chicago Cubs – Really??  Do I really need to go into why you would want to be the GM of the Cubs?  Look – I am a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan (born and raised in STL), but even I would love the chance to be the GM of the Cubs.  In fact, at I am 100% serious when I say this…with the resources the Cubs have and the most loyal fan base in all of sports – I can GUARANTEE if I was hired as Chicago’s GM – they would be in the World Series within 5 years.  Their 2011 payroll is 6th in all of baseball at $125 Million.  The Cubs also have some BAD, and I mean BAD contracts.  Alfonso Soriano is due $19 Million a year through 2014 (OH MY GOODNESS – how bad was recently fired GM Jim Hendry).  Carlos Zambrano is due $19 Million through the end of next year (insert joke here).  Ryan Dempster is due $14 Million in 2012 and then he is a free agent.  Those are the worst contracts remaining.  But unlike the Astros – at least they have a building block…Shortstop Starlin Castro is a 21 year old freak that hits, hits – oh yeah – and then he hits some more.

Friedman will think he is Mark Cuban with the amount of money he would get to spend on payroll with both of these organizations.  Friedman has the Rays still in the AL East race with a $42 Million Dollar payroll.  And if Friedman would head to Houston or Chicago – there is no Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees to contend with 19 times each every season.

Darkhorse – And I mean Dark!

New York Yankees – This will be short and sweet.  There are rumblings that current GM of the Yankees, Brian Cashman, has had just about enough of Hank Steinbrenner…and if that is the case…can you imagine what Friedman could do with a $200 Million dollar + payroll year in and year out, considering what he is doing now with the roll of pennies he is given every year to spend on free agents?  You know what the Yankees would be? They would actually turn into an Empire.  Friedman’s eye for talent and his scouting department would eventually be just as sick as the Rays minor league system is now, all the while spending and trading for the best players available.

Dear Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig,

Do you know how you are an idiot and think Mark Cuban would be bad for Major League Baseball?  First of all – that is the stupidest thing ever!  The guy would bring some much needed marketing and freshness to a League that is in desperate times to draw fans to games.  Cuban would not just be great for his organization – he would do wonders for the League entirely.  Bud, you need Mark Cuban – Cuban doesn’t need you.  Just out of curiosity – how did that Frank McCourt buying the Los Angeles Dodgers with a credit card thing turn out?  This is business Bud, not pleasure…make a sensible business decision and let Cuban in!

Bud, I am going to tell you this – if you are not allowing Cuban in the League – the last thing you can do is allow Friedman to go to New York to run the Yankees.  This kid would make the Yankees an absolute dynasty for years and years to come.  PLEASE – no matter what you do – guide Andrew somewhere other than the Yankees.

Lastly, could/would Friedman stay with the Rays.  His stock will NEVER be any higher – and he has earned the chance to listen to teams that will spend more than $22.50 a year on 6 free agents. If I am Andrew – I am going to Rays ownership and telling them – look – I want to see this thing out – I want to see the 2nd best farm system grow, but we need to extend the payroll out to $70 Million in 2012 and eventually to $100 Million by 2015…and if that’s the case – I will stay.  If not, it’s been fun – I am going to Chicago and have some deep dish pizza.  Oh yeah Rays fans…if that happens – I would expect Manager Joe Maddon to follow.

Curtis Stelzer is the featured Tampa Bay Rays columnist for RantSports.com. For daily updates, follow him on Twitter @Stelzy and join the fan page on Rant Sports MLB – Tampa Bay Rays



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