Ben Cherington’s Departure

My first post upon returning from my years-long hiatus will outline my feelings on GM Ben Cherington’s departure from the Red Sox. Ben Cherington held my fantasy dream job from 2011-2015. I admired Ben greatly and especially respected his accountability, intelligence, thoughtfulness, and calm demeanor. When he stepped down, my mom sent a typical “mom email” titled “Are you sad about Cherrington?” The body of the email included the following: “What do you think about the new guy [Dave Dombrowski]? Was this a good move?” That’s all. After reading my response, she was so impressed by the detail that she (in typical mom fashion) encouraged me to contact the now-exiting president of the Sox, Larry Lucchino. To save myself the embarrassment, I’ll instead simply post what I wrote to her on Dave Roberts’ Dive. I’m sure Larry has his own thoughts on the matter.

Funny you should ask, I just so happen to have a strong opinion about this issue.

I like Ben and appreciate what he did in Boston. On the other hand, the Red Sox are a huge mess (albeit, fixable) and it is almost 100% his fault. Ben had three fatal flaws: he was incapable of scouting and developing pitchers, he overvalued the talent (particularly the prospects) on our team, and he created logjams by signing and trading for redundant players.

Ben’s philosophy was this: acquire the best possible players and figure out where they are going to play later. What do Allen Craig, Daniel Nava, Rusney Castillo, Yoenis Cespedes, Hanley Ramirez, and Mookie Betts have in common? They are all right-handed hitters who basically play the same position. In some instances, Ben paid a hefty price to get these players. To his credit, Ben acknowledged the players were redundant, but noted that, “this is a good problem to have” in case of injury. What happened, though, is that players didn’t get the playing time necessary to grow and develop and our outfield has been a complete disaster. Ben had two colossal failures this winter when he signed Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. I never agreed with signing Pablo. I was excited about signing Hanley, but I will now say that he is the biggest problem on the entire team and we have to figure out how to get him, more than anybody, straight out of Boston. While the Red Sox would never say this publicly, I still think that they never meant to sign both players. They offered both of them contracts with the idea that only one of them would sign, and both players decided to sign the contracts at nearly the same time.

Ben did a great job in two respects: we won the World Series in 2013 thanks to his outside-the-box free agency strategy and he built one of the best farm systems in baseball. But he had many, many failed projects with pitchers. This includes Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Justin Masterson, Rick Porcello, and many other pitchers in the minor leagues that you have never heard of (because they stink). The bottom line is that he doesn’t have an eye for pitching. I agree with the decision not to sign Jon Lester, but the moves he made to try and fix it have bombed. In addition, for the most part, he hasn’t drafted pitchers who have panned out.

Ben overvalued his prospects and was afraid to pull the trigger on a deal to acquire Cole Hamels this winter. Who knows how many other opportunities he had to trade these guys. Instead, he kept a glut of overvalued “talent” on the team at the expense of pitching and, lo and behold, we are at the bottom of the division. Now, to fix this team, we are going to have to swallow losing a few promising young players (think Bogaerts, Betts, Bradley, Swihart, Owens, etc.) just to rid ourselves of Hanley. It makes sense that Ben would be attached to the aforementioned players because he drafted and developed them. At the same time, he needs to go because a more objective person in charge will use the pieces we have to build a better team.

As for the new guy, Dave Dombrowski; he is, quite easily, one of the top five “baseball minds” that are in front offices. He built the Tigers into a perennial contender from the ground up. Back in the day, he is widely regarded to have performed miracles with the Florida Marlins and Montreal Expos to somehow, some way, build these teams into contenders. He is also known for swinging massive trades to acquire superstar players (Miguel Cabrera is a good example of this). I would expect some major changes to the Red Sox this winter and I am fully on board with the abrupt leadership turnover. We needed a new vision.

Now, if anyone asks me of my opinion of the Red Sox GM move, I suppose I can simply forward them to my blog.

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