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Who's Responsible for the Success of the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays?

I’ve heard some people insinuate – or explicitly state – that much of the Rays success this season is inevitable. After all, they’ve been so bad for so long that they’ve accumulated a ton of high draft picks, allowing them to stockpile talent. It was only a matter of time, these people say, until these high draft picks began paying dividends and the Rays became a contender.

No. This is very, very wrong.

Of the 25 men on the Rays ALCS roster, exactly four were selected with the team’s first round picks: David Price, BJ Upton, Evan Longoria, and Rocco Baldelli.

Really, only Longoria and Upton have contributed to the 2008 Rays. So the Rays’s consistently high draft picks have yielded exactly TWO members of the 2008 title-contending team. Yes, those players are quite good, but still, they are only two players.

So where did the other players come from? Well, Carl Crawford was a second round pick back in 1999. However, other than that, every single player on the Rays was either signed by Andrew Friedman, traded for by Andrew Friedman, or drafted in the 7th round or later.

These players were signed by Andrew Friedman:
Carlos Pena
Cliff Floyd
Akinori Iwamura
Trever Miller
These players were “stolen” in the draft:
James Shields (16th round)
Andy Sonnanstine (13th round)
Fernando Perez (7th round)
These players were acquired by Andrew Friedman via trades:
Matt Garza
Dioner Navarro
Grant Balfour
Jason Bartlett
Dan Wheeler
JP Howell
Edwin Jackson
Willy Aybar
Gabe Gross
Ben Zobrist
Chad Bradford
In exchange for these players, Andrew Friedman surrendered: Toby Hall, Mark Hendrickson, Jeff Ridgway, Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, Jason Pridie, Aubrey Huff, Ty Wigginton, Joey Gathright, Seth McClung.

Oh, and both Gross and Bradford were acquired for FREE.
In summary:

**Current Rays players who were drafted by Tampa in the first or second round: 5 (including David Price and Rocco Baldelli, neither of whom contributed much to the 2008 team)

**Current Rays players who were acquired via trade by Andrew Friedman: 11 (the starting catcher and shortstop, a starting right fielder, two starting pitchers, the three best pitchers in the bullpen, and an excellent back up infielder)

**Current Rays players who were signed by Andrew Friedman: 4 (two starters, a platoon DH and a reliever)

**Current Rays players who were drafted in the 7th round or later: 3 (two starting pitchers and a fourth outfielder)