New Pirates GM Cherington gets endorsement from ex-Red Sox manager Farrell
The Pittsburgh Pirates have a strong endorsement of their new general manager from someone who knows him well.
“You got a great guy there to run things in Pittsburgh,” John Farrell said of Ben Cherington. “I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Cherington will be introduced Monday at a news conference at PNC Park. He replaces Neal Huntington, who was fired Oct. 28 after a 12-year stint.
Cherington and Farrell worked together as GM and manager for three years with the Boston Red Sox from 2013-15. They won a World Series in 2013 but also finished last in the American League East in 2014 and ’15.
Farrell told the Tribune-Review he was most impressed by Cherington during the tough times.
“He’s a great leader,” Farrell said. “In our relationship as general manager/manager, I was able to see that in a lot of different ways. We saw the best of times and the worst of times together.
“He was at his best when we struggled the most. I say that because, not only with myself but everyone around us — the coaching staff, the players — he saw those moments of opportunities to step up and quell any uncertainties that might exist.
“I look at that as a great quality. He was willing to stick his neck out at the most difficult of times.”
The Pirates had difficult times this past season when they went 69-93 and finished last in the National League Central for the first time since 2010. Their 25-48 record after the All-Star and the clubhouse strife that went with it led to manager Clint Hurdle and club president Frank Coonelly also losing their jobs.
Cherington is likely to face some tough moments as he strives to get the Pirates back on track. The team does not look like it has enough talent at the major league level to contend, and the farm system is considered mediocre.
Also, Pittsburgh is a much different market than Boston. The Red Sox are always among the teams with the highest player payrolls in the majors, and the Pirates consistently stand among the lowest.
Improving the player development and scouting departments figures to be paramount for Cherington. Farrell believes the Pirates will excel in those areas under the new GM.
“He has a scouting background and a player development background, and he is able to combine that world with the analytic world to find either some undervalued players or players who are valued properly,” said Farrell, who is a scout for the Cincinnati Reds and an analyst for Fox.
“You look at the teams we had in Boston. We had a lot of homegrown players, young players who came up through the farm system and contributed right away.
“We were a big-market team, but our player development department produced players as well as any small-market team. That’s the lifeblood of any organization, regardless of market size, and Ben understands the importance of it.”
If the Pirates decide to go into a rebuilding process, it will take a certain amount of patience by everyone in the organization. Farrell said that won’t be a problem with Cherington heading the baseball operations.
“He doesn’t make emotional and reactive decisions,” Farrell said. “He’s very thorough. Every decision he makes, you can be sure he has really thought it through from all angles.”
John Perrotto is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.