Andrew Friedman: Dodgers Facing Rays In World Series ‘Surreal’ Feeling

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Andrew Friedman has guided the Los Angeles Dodgers to the World Series in three of the last four years, but this one is extra special for him as he is going up against his former organization, the Tampa Bay Rays.

Friedman made a name for himself as general manager of the Rays from 2005-14, getting them to the World Series in 2008. He then took on the challenge of returning the Dodgers to greatness and is on the verge of doing that although he will have to go through his former team to do so.

“I’ve been trying to process it,” Friedman said of the Dodgers and Rays meeting in the Fall Classic. “Obviously, watched the end of their game Saturday and saw they were advancing on. At that point it was just pure happiness for them. We still had a lot of work to do, so all of my energy and attention was on Game 7.

“It kind of hit me [Tuesday] waking up and processing all the text messages and questions about it, it’s definitely surreal. Some of my best friends in life are there. We joked when I left the team that we were going to meet up in the World Series one day. For it to actually happen is surreal.”

Friedman added he is still in close contact with several members of the Rays’ front office and finds himself watching a lot of their games.

“I think it works out pretty well with the time zone advantage. Oftentimes their games are on at 4 (p.m. PT) and I’ll be in my office doing stuff so I put their game on. I’ve definitely watched a good number of their games over the years,” he said.

It’s no secret that the Rays don’t have the biggest payroll, but Friedman still found a way to build a winning culture there and led by general manager Erik Neander, they have continued that since he left.

“Payrolls don’t decide the standings, and I think we see evidence of that every year. I think having a really deep and talented roster, regardless of what your payroll is, is the key to winning games. That’s what they have,” Friedman said.

“It’s been through a lot of very shrewd moves. Some through the draft, some through trades and all kinds of different creative ways of player procurement. Here they are and it’s not by accident. Erik Neander and his team of guys are really, really good at what they do. It’s not by accident they were able to put this roster together.

“It’s going to be really fun competing against them.”

Friedman continuing to evolve as executive

Both the Dodgers and the Rays are organizations that rely analytics, which is something that Friedman has been an industry leader in. He feels that he is continuing to evolve as an executive though, as is the Rays’ front office.

“I think core principles are still in place but I think anyone who does this for a living is trying to grow, evolve, learn as we go. I’ve certainly learned a lot over the last six years, as I’m sure they have as well,” Friedman explained.

“I have a good feel for how those guys think, they have a good feel for how I think. At the core of this is two really talented teams going up against one another in what should be a really good series.”

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