Before going on, I want to take a minute to recognize Jason Rollison for his contribution to the Pirates community. Jason wrote for many websites, RumBunter on fansided, BucsDugout on Vox on to the Athletic, etc.. he also hosted a podcast. I first took notice of him on rumbunter where we had an email exchange that gave me interest in doing some writing again. After his passing, I started working on the idea for this site. Partially as a tribute to the ambition he gave me. Thank you Jason.
Back to the topic at hand. Ben Cherington was hired as the Pirates general manager. Fans jumping for joy, a world series winner! Built the recent world series team! This is the cliff notes on how he did so.
Ben was with the Red Sox organization from 1999 through the end of 2011. From scout, assistant director, player development and others until he was a Assistant to the General Manager. After 2011 he was promoted to General manager.
They say the move was due to poor performance by the Boston team at the end of the previous season. However in 2011 the Red Sox won 90 games and in the 14 years before Ben became GM the team was over .500 all 14 years with 10 of those being over 90 wins.
2012, Bens’s first full season as GM they finished 13 games under .500 and traded away many of their veteran players dropped a lot of payroll giving up on the 2012 season.
Going into 2013, Ben when out and signed seven higher profile free agents, traded for Mike Carp in the preseason and also Joel Hanrahan‘s was traded for earlier in the off season as well. He also traded for Jake Peavy at the deadline. They went on to win the world series with a great part of that simply brute forcing it with spending a lot of cash on the right players having an opening day payroll fourth highest in the MLB at around $154m (about $20m less than 2012). It worked out wonderfully, Ben had and eye for talent and played it well.
His next two seasons where disasters when he was not able to resign some free agents and the ones he did sign fell off the boat. Going into the end of 2015 Ben resigned after some other changes in the front office. Almost nothing worked out well for the team between poor performance from players and injuries.
During his four year tenure, he had the same amount of loosing seasons as Boston had from 1990 to 2010. That is quite a feat considering the Red Sox market and budget. If he hadn’t resigned it wouldn’t surprise me if he was on the chopping block at the end of the season.
The next big story is that Ben created the core to the 2018 world champions. Not really wrong. Just to point out that the biggest contributes Betts and Bogaerts were brought in before Ben’s tenure as GM but he likely had some eyes and influence on acquiring them before his tenure as GM from his various other positions with Boston. Also did a good job directing the development of these players.
The 2018 season Boston supplemented this core very well though with high priced players. The opening day salary was over $200m. While this “core” was there. It might be a little far to say HE built the core with other high profile players on the team already however his legacy of finding and development of these players will likely be long lived and should be recognized.
Ben also had done a pretty good job in Toronto working with player development and that has been one of our major behind the scenes issues that is painfully obvious especially on the mound.
I wasn’t a fan of Ben a week ago as it was reported he wanted a team to tear down and rebuild. This morning I saw a report saying something a bit different that he was looking for something in a rebuild. Like it or not, the Pirates are at the tail and of a rebuild that the front office has been calling “retooling”.
All in all, this might work out very well. Welcome to Pittsburgh Ben.