Ben Cherington Officially Introduced as Pirates' GM
The Pittsburgh Pirates held a news conference at noon on Monday to formally introduce Ben Cherington as the next general manager. It was reported on Friday that Cherington accepted the position. Cherington is taking over for recently fired, Neal Huntington.
Pirates' owner Bob Nutting said this of the hire in the Pirate's official press release:
"This is an important step forward for our organization. Ben has an incredible track record of success having been a part of three world championship teams in Boston, one as general manager, and setting the table for a fourth. His passion and ability to identify, infuse and develop talent at every level, including at the Major League level, is exactly what we need to be successful in Pittsburgh."
Cherington described the Pirates as the "ideal opportunity" for him and gave a glimpse into his strategy for improving the franchise:
Pittsburgh is the ideal opportunity for me, and the only one I was interested in exploring. The four pillars that will drive our success are elite talent identification, acquisition, development and deployment. My entire career has been spent focusing on developing great systems to be elite in these four critical areas, which will fuel our future success in Pittsburgh.
Cherington was announced as a finalist last week alongside the Brewers' assistant GM, Matt Arnold. His previous role was as VP of baseball operations with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Here are some highlights from the press conference's opening statements:
- Nutting highlighted Cherington's experience with World Series' teams (Red Sox). "He's done it before and can do it again."
- Travis Williams said that the three factors that lead to the decision were: his track record of building a winning organization, ability to attract and develop front office talent, excels at identifying, developing and deploying players.
- Williams expressed how important it was to get this decision right for the fans and is confident they've done that.
- They vetted over fifty, diverse candidates, which was narrowed down to twelve. Williams said they were fortunate to attract a very talented pool of candidates.
- Cherington said a few times how excited he was to partner with Nutting and Williams, and how that partnership is critical to success.
- He said that he values the relationships that he has built are almost as good as the wins.
- The focus is going to be player-centered and he will be building the front office around that focus.
- "Identification, acquisition, development, and deployment" have been said a few times already.
Question and Answer Time
Cherington was asked what whether the Pirates need a total rebuild:
He expressed that "we just need to get better." He didn't commit to a "rebuild" only that they need to improve.
Why was this the right move for you?
This was the only job to considere, according to Cherington. He's excited about the level of commitment from Nutting and Williams. His career focus are the things that drive success in a place like Pittsburgh.
Nutting was asked if Cherington was on his radar prior to this search:
He said that he was. Again with "identifying, acquiring, developing..." "Yes, he's been on my radar for a long time."
Has Cherington spoken with Huntington?
He expressed that he did and that Huntington was very helpful.
Williams was asked to address economic road blocks:
He stated that he doesn't believe that finances should be a problem and that there are a number of teams who have had success.
Most attractive part of the job for Cherington?
He said that it is the opportunity to work with Nutting and Williams. He also expressed that he wanted to work in a "place that matters."
First order of business?
The manager hire is first. He also wants to get to know people within the organization.
What does a good manager look like to you?
Cherington expressed the need to create an environment where players are improving and being put in a position to perform. He acknowledged the work already done in the manager search and that the list of candidates is strong.
Was asked about player development (difficult to hear):
He reiterated the player-centered focus and how different player development is today than it has been. He said that he has been able to focus on staying on the cutting edge.
Asked about the importance of culture - specifically in reference to the Houston Astros:
Williams said that the ability to bring improvements to the culture was key in their search. Williams has used "good person" a few times now to describe Cherington.
How will the initial conversation with players go?
He would start about telling them about himself and ask for the same. Then maybe move on to how the Pirates can improve as a team. The relationships are important.
That concluded the press conference.
There were a few themes that said quite a bit:
- The flow of identifying, acquiring, developing, and deploying talent was said by all three men.
- Cherington said at least three times how excited he was to work with Nutting and Williams and how confident he was in that partnership. There is clearly an awareness of the sentiment in Pittsburgh and they have a desire to change that.
- Williams expressed a few times that in addition to someone who can improve the team, they wanted a good person who can improve the culture.
Follow Jared on Twitter: @a_piratelife