Pittsburgh Pirates: Thoughts on Ben Cherington’s Introduction


Yesterday, the Pittsburgh Pirates formally announced the hiring of Ben Cherington as the team’s new General Manager.  Here are some thoughts on his press conference.

At 12:00 PM EST yesterday, the Pittsburgh Pirates held an introductory press conference for new General Manager Ben Cherington.  Principal owner Bob Nutting along with newly hired team president Travis Williams were both part of the press conference to introduce the new General Manager.  There were a lot of good things said at the press conference, and if anything else, Cherington proved to be confident and ready to do what needs to be done to get the organization back on track.

The first interesting thing that was brought up at the press conference had to do with the Pittsburgh Pirates search.  It was reported that the firm Korn Ferry was brought in to lead the hunt for a new candidate.  According to Travis Williams, the team actually started with a list of around 50 candidates before cutting it down to 12 final options.  If anything, this shows that the Pittsburgh Pirates were spreading a wide net trying to find the right fit, and not just looking for an easy, cheap hire.

Secondly, Ben Cherington proved that he knows how today’s game works.  Several questions were asked of him on how he will improve things, and his answers all made sense.  Cherington mainly talked about finding not only the right players, but the right people in the front office to help find and develop these players.

The most important thing Cherington talked about was his ability to find success given the market.  Bob Nutting was once again asked about payroll, and once again he talked about being economically challenged.  He told reported at the press conference, “I wish there was more money that could be spent.”

Payroll is not going to change drastically; the Pittsburgh Pirates have a new front office and will have a new manager, but they still have the same owner and market.  Things may change, Williams and Cherington might be able to make a better case for signing or extending certain players.  Still, it should not be expected for much to change in the financial category, especially in year one of this front office.

Instead, Cherington, Nutting, and Williams went on to discuss how Cherington has proven the ability to build a strong farm system.  This is something that the Pittsburgh Pirates have lacked over the last few years and Cherington looks like he could be the man to fix it.  In fact, he even said that was one of the things he liked about the Pittsburgh Pirates opportunity:

"“And then, on a more personal level, I feel like the things that I’ve actually spent my career focused on are the things that drive success in a place like this.”"

Cherington has most notably built up two farm systems: the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays.  He is known for developing and refusing to trade Mookie Betts, drafting Michael Chavis, and signing Rafael Devers among others.  Furthermore, since joining the Toronto Blue Jays back in 2016, he has helped lead the rebuild of their organization and quickly put together a farm system with some of the most elite prospects in baseball.

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Ben Cherington seems like the best fit for the job.  In his interview yesterday he sounded confident in his approach to the game.  He is an experienced mind who thinks along the lines of today’s game and has been one of the best at identifying talent.  According to reports, he turned down opportunities with the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants last year because he felt he was better suited for this type of job.  If anything, this shows what other teams think of Cherington, but also his level of commitment in coming here.