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The biggest name in the Chicago Cubs’ general manager search – other than Brian Cashman, I suppose – is Tampa Bay Rays GM Andrew Friedman.

The 34-year-old wunderkind has been in charge of the Rays since 2006, and guided the team to its first winning season in its then 10-year existence. He utilizes the blend of scouting and advanced statistical analysis prized by Tom Ricketts, and he’s already picking up support from Cubs players.

“He flipped the Tampa team around in two-plus years,” Garza said of Friedman. “Yeah, we went on a great run in 2008, but it’s not like it was a one-year wonder. The following season we still had a winning record, and last season we won the division once again. And this year, you know, I don’t know how he does it. But year in and year out he can put together a bullpen and put together the pieces he needs with the type of market he has.”

“I think he’d be great here, but like I said that’s just a biased opinion,” Garza continued. “I know there’s plenty of great GMs out there who would be great for this gig …. I think it’s going to be a fun couple months to see who we get and how it goes.”

Garza wasn’t the only player publicly supporting Friedman’s possible candidacy. Cubs’ first baseman Carlos Pena, a former Tampa Bay Ray, himself, complimented Friendman’s abilities as a GM.

It’s interesting to note that, this past offseason, Friedman allowed Pena to walk and traded Garza. Yet neither bears any ill will toward Friedman, which suggests Friedman the same likeability among players that helped make Hendry’s tenure so long.

FYI: As the search process goes on, I’ll be preparing a ‘Meet the Candidates’ type post (cheesy name, yes) for each of the notable possible Cubs GM candidates, in addition to these kinds of shorter updates.

Make sure to “like” Bleacher Nation on Facebook and/or follow it on Twitter to get the latest Cubs GM rumors.

  • Fishin Phil

    In case they are keeping track of votes, this would be my number one pick as well. Cashman is a close second on my list.

    • willis

      I teeter between he and Cashman who both would be great here. It is really amazing though what this kid has done for that organization. And Garza along with Pena understand winning and that this is a business. Their endorsement of him speaks volumes to me.

      • hardtop

        Am I the only one who wonders if Cashman could be effective with anything less than an unlimited budget? Yes the Yankees have won plenty of division titles and World Series, but, let’s not fool ourselves, they have done so, primarily, by purchasing the best players available year in and year out. When said players don’t work out or begin to decline, they just cut them loose with little concern given to payroll impact. Ricketts has shown he’s committed to a home grown organization who can win with a modest payroll (or I think he has shown that). So I’m not sure that’s a great fit. I’ll admit, I’m really only aware of the Yankees organization on the surface… so if this is an unfounded concern, and Cashman is much more than the check writer he appears to be on the surface, please feel free to correct me historical data. Obviously he keeps the farm system full of trade pieces, because he’s good for one or two big deals a year that often include prospects. But, keep in mind, some of his purchases have turned out to be pretty terrible… aj Burnett for example. Bottom line: his track record on the surface doesn’t appear to be a good fit; I’m not sure a big budget team of already-have-been’s it what the Cubs fans or Cubs ownership wants.

        I like this Tampa kid. He built a no market team into a division winner in the best division in baseball. He just appears to get it: talent, budget, all of it. I look at him and think: “imagine what he can do with a big market payroll”. He’s young though, and it’s a reasonably large gamble. But, I feel more confident every day that Ricketts will get the best available person for this gig. If he chooses Cashman, I’ll trust his judgment and give it a few years before I start screaming for Cashman to be decapitated and for Ricketts to sell the team ;)

        • Matt Murton

          I’m right there with you. I feel like almost anyone would be able to put together a team when you have all the money in the world. His strategy is pretty simple: sign or trade for the best players that money can buy. As far as in-house talent is concerned, they barely have any- Cano being one of the few exceptions… I hope Cashman doesn’t get the job.

          • hardtop

            well jeter, but im not sure hes a cashman product… being that hes 49 years old. brett gardner is a yankees draft. so, with cano, thats 3 system guys… and i think thats it… unless jorge is still DH’ing.

        • Toosh

          Ricketts HAS the type of money to spend that Cashman is “used to”. He’d be my choice if Girardi came with.

          • EQ

            I agree.. GM’s and managers are only as good as the quality they have to work with.. sort of.. Cashman and Epstein are probably good GM’s but when you have the highest 2 payrolls it’s pretty easy to succeed. Look at Joe Torre, he was a “great manager” when he was a yankee.. how good was he in St. Louis or LA??? I’m not trying to diminish these guys but it’s easy to win with those types of resources.. Phil Jackson anybody???

            A guy like Freidman won without the high payroll.. that to me is more valuable than a dude with a blank check.

  • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

    He’s 34. That’s awesome.

    You know, it’s one thing when most of the players are your age or younger, but once the GMs are your age… well… *sigh*.

    I’d bet he’d make a shitty landscape architect though.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I bet he can’t blog worth a damn.

      Er. Actually… damn it…

      • hansman1982

        Brett, dont be so hard on yourself, you run a fine blog…

        Friedman on the other hand…

        ZING

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          That’s it. Friedman is now my arch nemesis.

  • Matt Murton

    He looks remarkably like Mark Zuckerburg…

  • Dick

    If Friedman comes here and Hendry goes to Tampa, maybe Friedman can trade Tampa Rodrigo Lopez for the 5 guys we shipped to Tampa for Garza.

    • KB

      You know, that trade was really one to think about; I don’t think we’ll know who “won” it for a good number of years.
      Friedman is deservedly much-heralded for knowing talent, but Hendry’s one solid skill was making good trades, so it’s not like anyone got hoodwinked. I truly can’t believe that a rebuilding team would trade archer and Hak-Ju Lee, yet Archer is experiencing growing pains, and Garza has been superb.

      Tough call.

  • KB

    He looks like he was in the band in “That Thing You Do.”

    • necubsfan

      Thanks for putting a horrible song in my head.

  • chode

    “But year in and year out he can put together a bullpen”
    I’m suprised Garza didn’t follow this up with “and put bats in a lineup to add run support to excellent starting pitching!”

  • 1CubFanInPA

    As a Cubs fan living on the east coast in the heart of Yankee territory I can concur with most of the concerns I’ve read regarding Brian Cashman’s track record as a GM. It certainly is easier to run a ball club when you have an open checkbook and aren’t working with a hard budget in terms of payroll. Cashman has gotten a ‘pass’ on many failed signings (ie: Burnett, Giambi, Pavano, Weaver and Wright) because they are financially able to ‘eat bad contracts’ in order to amend their mistakes whenever necessary without it affecting the payroll budget. The Yankee farm system is not exactly stocked with Top 50 prospects — certainly not here in Scranton, PA where the franchise’s AAA team resides. I would much rather see a young gun like Andrew Freidman or Rick Hahn be hired as our next GM then Cashman because the Cubs are in a total rebuilding mode and need someone who has experience in that capacity. Rebuilding a team is not something Brian Cashman has had to do during his tenure with the Yankees.

  • 1CubFanInPA

    And one more comment in regards to Brian Cashman… As much as we all like to hammer Jim Hendry for some of the moves he made during his tenure, among Cashman’s biggest blunders was the deal he made in February 1999 when he sent a young 3B prospect by the name of Mike Lowell to the Florida Marlins for Mark Johnson (who?), Ed Yarnell (really?) and former Cubs farmhand Todd Noel. That trade ended up being detrimental to the Cubs in 2003, so let’s all be careful of what we wish for — because we just might get it.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks for the input, 1CFPA. There are reasons to be concerned about each of the candidates, but I still think it’s fair to include Cashman among the upper tier of candidates.

  • 1CubFanInPA

    I hear ya, Brett. Just throwing in my two cents, for what its worth. Which isn’t worth a lot these days. LOL

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s worth at least 2 cents… :)

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