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LOS ANGELES (AP) — In the middle of Andrew Friedman’s introduction as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ president of baseball operations, a question was asked from a corner of the room.
“Are you looking to acquire a younger, faster, stronger first baseman?” someone queried.
Friedman swiveled his head to see who was speaking, and then he laughed. The question came from incumbent first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who lives in Southern California during the offseason.
Gonzalez can count on other outsiders being brought in under Friedman, who plans to hire a new general manager and to retain Don Mattingly as manager.
Friedman was introduced at Dodger Stadium on Friday, and he said he’s having conversations about hiring a GM to work under him but offered no timetable. Ned Colletti was shifted from the GM job to senior adviser to team president and CEO Stan Kasten.
A 37-year-old former Wall Street analyst, Friedman was hired this week from the Tampa Bay Rays, where he guided the team to four postseason appearances, including division in titles in 2008 and 2010.
Friedman said has spoken twice with Mattingly, and they plan to meet next week. He said Mattingly will “definitely” be the manager next season and he tamped down speculation that close friend, Rays manager Joe Maddon, would follow him to Los Angeles.
“I’m going into it with the mindset that we’re going to work with Donnie for a long time,” Friedman said. “We’re very aligned on a lot of things philosophically.”
Mattingly has two seasons remaining in his three-year deal, while Maddon has one year left in his contract.
In Tampa Bay, Friedman oversaw one of the major leagues’ lowest payrolls. With the Dodgers, he will have baseball’s highest payroll at his disposal, one that rose to a record $256 million this year.
“It’s obviously different,” he said. “Our focus is going to be on constructing the best team we possibly can. There are things that will make much more sense here than in other markets.”
Friedman was short on specifics, and he repeatedly said it was premature to comment on such things as GM, farm director, coaches and the roster, including whether free-agent shortstop Hanley Ramirez would be given a $15.3 million qualifying offer.
Friedman opened his comments by reading from several prepared pages.
“I’ve been busting him a little bit for having to write a speech. It’s not something we’re used to, but he wanted to make his points,” Kasten said. “I think he did pretty well.”
Friedman name-checked some of his famous predecessors in the job, including Buzzy Bavasi and Branch Rickey, while also saluting such former Dodger greats as Sandy Koufax, Tom Lasorda and Don Newcombe, who was on hand. He also thanked the Rays and Colletti.
“It feels great to be a Dodger today,” Friedman said, smiling. “I fully recognize the magnitude of the job ahead of me.”
The Dodgers won 94 games and the NL West title but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs in Colletti’s last two seasons as GM. They were beaten in four games in the NL Division Series, a year after losing in six games in the NL Championship Series.
“I have a ton of personal and professional respect for Ned,” Friedman said. “He’s got a lot of institutional knowledge. I’d be foolish not to tap into it.”
Friedman repeatedly used the words “process,” “collaboration” and “information is king” in describing his approach to the job.
“All I care about is getting more decisions right than wrong,” he said.
Friedman is known for his use of analytics, and he acknowledged those will blend with traditional scouting in building the roster.
“We do a lot of digging on people we’re going to acquire,” he said. “People are going to know exactly what we’re thinking.”
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