Pittsburgh Pirates: Ben Cherington Is Already Making An Impact


The Pittsburgh Pirates hired general manager Ben Cherington in November 2019.  He has yet to make any real notable roster moves but has made an impact in other ways.

At the end of last season, if you were to tell Pittsburgh Pirates fans that the only notable roster move the team would make by the New Year was to add a defensive-minded catcher, there would be a lot of questions raised.  The Pittsburgh Pirates did have a lot of turnover in terms of their front office and coaching staff.  This, of course, somewhat delayed their off-season compared to other teams.

The team was very deliberate in their search.  New team President Travis Williams, along with other members of the front office, finally made a decision in mid-November to hire former Boston Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington.  At the time, many viewed the hire as a slam dunk.  He won a World Series in Boston and helped create one of the top farm systems in baseball.

He was let go at the end of the 2015 season and went on to work as the Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Blue Jays and quickly helped turned their farm system into one of the best in baseball.  The Blue Jays have had some of the most highly sought after prospects in Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Nate Pearson.

The best thing about Ben Cherington’s hire is the team is getting a proven, known commodity.  He’s proven that he knows how to build an organizations’ minor leagues, something the Pittsburgh Pirates need to do.  In order to truly compete, the farm system can not go through ups and downs, but rather just always trending up.  This is why there should be so much optimism around the Ben Cherington hire.

Cherington has gotten to work, but not in the fashion that most fans would like to see from the new regime.  He has prioritized filling out the organization’s front office and coaching staff before making any personnel moves.  This makes sense being everyone in the organization needs to be in on the same page before making decisions.

So instead, Cherington has added some elite talent through other ways.  First was the hiring of the team’s new manager, Derek Shelton.  Shelton has had success everywhere he has coached. He also is highly regarded for his ability to develop young hitters.  This was shown when he was Joe Maddon‘s hitting coach in Tampa Bay for five years. Last year with the Minnesota Twins he helped put together a lineup that broke the single-season home run record.  Shelton hired Texas Rangers bullpen coach Oscar Marin as the pitching coach and Houston Astros first base coach Don Kelly as bench coach.  Both hires are well versed in modern technology used to develop players.

Up next was the hiring of an Assistant General Manager.  Cherington was able to bring in Steve Sanders from the Blue Jays.  Sanders was the Blue Jays head of scouting and was in charge of their draft each year.  The MLB draft is something that the previous regime seemed to struggle with, never finding any real franchise-type players in it in recent years.

The last notable move that Cherington made came yesterday.  The team hired Oz Ocampo, who previously worked for the Houston Astros.  Ocampo announced that he was joining the Pittsburgh Pirates organization on Twitter and via his bio, he is going to be Special Assistant, Player Personnel.  However, he was the Director of International and Latin Player Development for Houston before moving into a Special Assistant to the General Manager role, where he served as the MLB team’s translator and was involved in the hiring process for the Astros.  He is given credit for the development of Yordan Alvarez, the American League Rookie of the Year.

Next. More information on Ocampo. dark

While fans sit here and wait for the Pittsburgh Pirates to start making roster moves, the team has really been working hard this offseason.  Ben Cherington believes he can have success here by building through the minor league system.  He also believes that having the right minds in the front office, on the coaching staff, and throughout the minor league system will lead to a better overall organization.  So far he looks like he has accomplished this goal.