Pirates Reportedly Had Informal Discussions With Ben Cherington

Buster Olney has an interesting note (via MLBTR) from over the weekend about the Pirates, saying that they’ve had informal discussions with former Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington about a role in the front office. Those are the only details Olney gave, other than pointing out that Cherington and Neal Huntington have been friends for years.

When the Red Sox moved on from Cherington, my immediate thought was to wonder if he would end up with the Pirates. The trend with a lot of teams now is to load up on GM types and get as much front office talent as possible. We saw this with the Dodgers in a big way last year. Andrew Friedman moved over from the Rays and took over as the President of Baseball Operations. Josh Byrnes joined the organization as a Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations. Farhan Zaidi, who was the Director of Baseball Operations and Assistant General Manager with Oakland in 2013-14, was hired to be the new General Manager. And the former GM of the team, Ned Colletti, was retained as a Senior Advisor to the President and CEO.

If Cherington did join the Pirates’ front office, it would give another GM-type to add some input to roster decisions. As Olney notes, it would also be a job that would come with less stress than a normal GM job.

The Pirates are starting to lose talent from their front office, with Marc DelPiano and Jim Benedict both leaving for Miami after previously serving as Special Assistants to the GM. So if the Pirates added Cherington, not only would the move follow a trend in the industry of having multiple GM-types in the front office, but it would help to replace some talent that has been lost from the front office this off-season.

Olney said that these are just informal discussions, but based on the relationship between Huntington and Cherington, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this eventually happens.

UPDATE 11:27 AM: It looks like Cherington will be taking a job as the Executive in Residence with Columbia. I’m guessing this eliminates the possibility of him joining the Pirates.

  • FYI…2016 Steamer projections look like they’re up and running for all my like-minded masochists looking to waste a few hours tonight.

    • ‘waste’ is the operative word. 🙂

      • First glance, Kang is really the only one that looks low.

        • Id be curious as to the reason for the Kang ISO dropping as much as it did. Maybe its me buying too much into his first year stuff, but that power doesnt seem to be going anywhere and id expect increased HRs and similar ISO.

          Though i suppose they may be taking injury and the fear of his lower body not being the same into account.

          Other thoughts:
          Not sure i agree with their increase in Cole’s BB rate back to above 2 per 9. I have a tough time seeing Cole regress like that with Searage still around helping him be consistent.

          • Hey, pitchers are up too! Thanks for the heads up.

            As for Kang, I’d have to guess they’re betting on some HR/FB rate regression, and a few less doubles washing out from a regressed BABIP. Given a ground ball-heavy batted ball profile that all makes sense enough, but I think you see him closer to where he ended up in the second half 45% GB than first, 54% GB.

          • Big regression from Melancon, btw. And unfortunately even more from Watson.

  • Tim,
    Do U think a trade of Pedro Alvarez for Brock Holt makes sense for both teams ??
    I am thinking it does if Holt is good enough to be a staring 2B & lead off hitter — at least until J HO returns. Then Holt or J HA takes S.Rod’s spot as the super Utility guy.
    1) Holt – 2b
    2) Pol – CF/RF
    3) AMC – RF/CF
    4) MAR – LF
    5) NW – 1B
    6) J HA – 3B
    7) Cerv – C
    8) Mer – SS

    BENCH
    Stew
    Morse
    Florimon/Nunez
    Broxton/Decker
    S. Rod

    • Why do people keep inserting Walker at first base? Huntington has even said he’s not moving.

    • Alvarez was replacement level this year, and in his best year he was as good as Holt the last two years (2.3-2.4 WAR). Holt has four years of control remaining. The Pirates aren’t getting that much for Alvarez.

      • Although you could make the argument and I think successfully so that offensively (at DH) you could get at least a decent return based on oWAR from Alvarez. That wouldnt help in Boston where Papi is, but I do think we can get something for Alvarez as a DH.

        • I was trying to figure what Alvarez would be worth as a DH a few weeks ago. My best comparison would be Evan Gattis. Alvarez had a higher OBP, but the slugging and low averages are the same. Gattis was replacement level. I don’t know if the higher OBP would give Alvarez much value.

          I’m skeptical that they could get anything for Alvarez right now. I think if that was possible, they would have done it by now.

          • Evan Gattis also played in Houston. Alvarez’s park adjusted numbers (114 wRC+) are considerably better than Gattis’ (99 wRC+).

            Alvarez gave back 22.6 runs in the field last year whereas the straight positional adjustment is -15. Assuming all else held constant, Alvarez would’ve been would about 1 win last year as a full time DH.

            • If Gattis had 11 triples, I’m guessing Pedro would’ve turned 3-4 of those into inside the park HRs. Not that Houston could use him, but if they did get Pedro, they might be the first MLB team to have both a Bull and a Bear.

          • I wouldn’t trade Alvarez for Gatti straight up. Better OBP, better park adjusted numbers, and that’s with him playing in the field…if he just had to hit I’d bet he’d even be better.

        • Beware of the unnamed scouts and executives this time of year, but Travis sounds like Pedro could be moved: http://blog.triblive.com/bucco-blog/2015/10/26/monday-mop-up-duty-buying-or-parting-with-happ/#axzz3pgwssdge

          What we can say for sure is that GM’s don’t apply strict WAR-based analysis in moves like this, one way or another.

      • Thanx.

    • Destination for Pedro makes sense, but as Tim said, return is not going to be what yinz think.

    • Dombrowski has said, for whatever its worth, he isnt all that interested in adding at many spots beyond pitching and bench spots. He seems content with the current options at pretty much every spot, which makes sense considering the talent Boston has.

    • Why would Boston want Alvarez? Ortiz is their DH and they are planing to move Ramirez to 1B.

  • I think it might be good to have a friend to bounce ideas off of. At least he can tell you, you are crazy. without worrying about his job security.

    • 4 years ago, I would have the NH would be working for Cherington, not the other way around.

  • This sounds like a win win to me.

  • He’s a better fit for a small market team than a larger market one, IMO. More of a builder GM than a guy like Dombrowski, for instance.

  • I am intrigued. He actually found some undervalue bats on the FA market which contributed to their title. Always good to get a perspective from a guy who won a recent title.

  • Cherington would make sense if we had a payroll of $180 million. This guy may have an eye for talent but only in the expensive cuts of meat department. My thoughts are who are they replacing with him? They lost a pitching savant and a minor league guy. Less stress? Give your organization a knife to go to a gun fight. You need to make creative moves on a shoestring. Please don’t say this is bashing it is only an organizational constraint. The Sox had money to burn and if he does come to PBC he would need to buy his own paper clips. Also I believe they have internal talent that could be considered.

    • Just because he had a larger payroll in Boston he’s worthless anywhere else? I say the more talented eyes, the more connections, the better.

      • Never said he is worthless. He made some very poor trades and FA signings. My point is what are we trying to replace and who do we have internal that merits a promotion. Cherington did trade Melancon.

        • Cherington got Brock Holt in that Melancon trade.

          The Melancon he traded was terrible.

          • We got Stolmy. Huntington was enamored with him. I really do not understand why Holt was even in that deal?
            Charlie Wilmoth stated
            “Holt is stretched at shortstop, and I’m not sure how much he’ll hit at the major-league level. He also probably wasn’t going to make the team out of Spring Training. He’s worth something, but I’m not overly concerned about losing him. De Jesus is, in some ways, similar to Holt — he’s a second baseman who has posted good averages in the minors but doesn’t have much power at all. Holt and De Jesus were likely included in the deal as a way of balancing out the rest of it”

            We should of kept Holt and not taken De Jesus. I love hindsight.

        • I was talking about a similar subject the other day in regards to the Yankees and Francisco Cervelli. They tried to replace Russell Martin with a combo of Cervelli and Chris Stewart. It didn’t work out because Cervelli got hurt early in the season. The next year, rather than going back to that, they signed Brian McCann to a big deal. This eventually led to the Pirates trading for Cervelli, and doing the exact same thing as the Yankees — replacing Martin with Cervelli/Stewart. This time it worked because Cervelli stayed healthy.

          It would have made sense, in hindsight, for the Yankees to give Cervelli another shot in 2014, rather than signing McCann. But I don’t think big market teams have that luxury to make small market moves. They can afford to spend on top free agents, and they can afford to miss on top free agents and still add top free agents in the future without having to worry about their budget being crippled.

          I see the same thing with Cherington in the Melancon trade. It would be hard for a Boston GM to go with someone like Melancon with the year he had. In hindsight, it was a horrible move. At the time even, it looked like a great move for the Pirates. But I think a big market GM has pressure to make moves like trading for a “proven closer” like Joel Hanrahan. If Cherington worked for a small market team, I doubt he makes that trade. But with the Red Sox, he’s probably looking at more outrage if he trades for Hanrahan and that doesn’t work out, than if he keeps Melancon and that doesn’t work out.

          Keep in mind, he also traded FOR Melancon. He just dealt him away one year later, which again is probably due to the big market issue.

          • “But I don’t think big market teams have that luxury to make small market moves.”

            So true. Especially what they charge for things, in and out of the ballpark.

          • Not sure it was your intent, but you just made a convincing argument why money is perceived to be more important to success than it really is in baseball.

    • To be fair to Cherington, his positive traits dont all come from big money issues. His drafting ability isnt exactly poor, and i think BOS’s current situation reflects some of that. Cherington was around and a big part (and his team was a big part) of the drafting+development of guys like Travis Shaw, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr, and Blake Swihart. In fact, thats all 1 draft class.

      Cherington has been able to get great value from draft picks of late, and the more recent drafts arent lacking as Boston has a quality group of prospects. Also Director of player development up to 2005 and VP of player personnel until 2009. If anything, he’s shown to be much better at drafting and developing and his biggest issue was the big signings where he made curious choices like Hanley to LF and the Panda with a GB heavy staff.

      It’ll be different, but im not sure we can easily assume he’ll be awful due to lack of funds. He’s a solid FO guy.

      • That’s my first thought. The talent in the Boston farm system was developed while he was there. It didn’t happen by accident. I believe he’s got an eye for talent.

    • You know what trumps your tired, mindless, rant about how the cheapskate Nutting is holding back the Pirates? 98 wins in the best division in baseball!

      Don’t you just hate those pesky facts?

  • Yeah, this got my attention. His time in Boston was undone by regression and injuries. He did build quite a farm system though. You gotta think he might be very valuable in that aspect.

    • He and NH are both graduates of Amherst College as was Dan Duquette of the Orioles (The Amherst Connection). I think Cherrington is very smart and would be more of an asset to a team like the Pirates who always try to stay a step ahead rather than rely upon outbidding other teams for FA’s. I think he and NH are close friends and this may happen now or sometime later.

      • I think Cherrington ran the Sox like a small market team too which is kinda what Friedman is doing with the Dodgers.

  • It’d be very interesting to see Cherington operates in the system PGH has and how PGH’s roster decisions are impacted by Cherington.

    • Hopefully with amatuer talent acquisition and development.

      • If Cherington came on to focus primarily on that role, it’d seem like such an obvious match. He’s obviously going to be working with a lesser budget, but his track record in the above areas would be a great addition.

        I want to see Cherington go to work on draft day for PGH.

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