Ben Cherington is the right man for the Cubs GM job

Ben Cherington is the right man for the Cubs GM job

While Rick Hahn of the White Sox seems to be the most popular man for the job right now, I believe there is a better fit for the Cubs out there -- Ben Cherington, VP and Asst. GM of the Boston Red Sox.

Why Cherington?

Let's break down some of the things Ricketts talked about in his press conference today as well as some things he has talked about in the past...

1.  Someone from a winning background.  Who has a better winning background than the Boston Red Sox.  On top of that, which franchise can empathize better with an organization that's been "cursed" and hasn't won a World Series in a long, long time?   If any team knows how to turn the culture of a franchise 180 degrees, it's Boston.  And we know Ricketts looks at Boston as a model for success.

2. Someone who understands player development...likely this means someone with a scouting background  Cherington started his career in Boston as an area scout under Dan Duquette and was entrusted with a lot of responsibility. Interestingly, he actually developed his affinity for player development while with the Indians organization.  He told Ben Nicholson-Smith of  MLB Trade Rumors

There are a lot of things that I saw in Cleveland that I’m not ashamed to say we’ve tried to copy in Boston. There’s some things that I think that they were ahead of the game on in terms of player development, principles, developing people within a front office.

3. Someone with knowledge of sabermetrics:  Boston is a team that has been at the forefront of teams who use this kind of statistical analysis and Cherington has been a big part of that.

4. A young, energetic GM: Cherington is just 37 years old.

5. Financial savvy  Cherington handled a lot of the arbitration cases with Boston.  It has become something of a specialty with him.  I think this is something the Cubs could have handled better during the Hendry era.

6.  He has extensive experience in Latin America:  Judging by the Cubs recent investment in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, we know this is something Ricketts values deeply.   Cherington once headed Boston's scouting efforts in Latin America.

Cherington understands what Ricketts talked about, that sabermetrics is a useful tool, but it's not the end-all.  It's a part of the game, but it shouldn't be the only thing you rely on.  As Ricketts said, "we're not going to run our team like a computer model".  A blend of scouting and statistical analysis has been the hallmark of the more successful teams, while teams like the Mariners who relied very heavily on statistical analysis at the expense of scouting, have floundered.  Per his interview with MLB TradeRumors, Cherington understands that balance is needed...

You can blend appropriately information from those two extremes. Depending on the player and the circumstances, you may lean more on one than the other. Obviously if you’re evaluating a 16-year-old in the Dominican, you don’t have a lot of hard performance history, so you’re going to rely more on subjective evaluation.

As you get closer to the big leagues, the more performance history you have and the more you can incorporate that into the projection for the player. And you factor in other information like their health, contract situation, etc.

That’s what Theo strove for from the very get-go. From the day he took the general manager’s job, he did not want the Red Sox to be a quantitative-driven baseball ops department, he didn’t want it to be a subjective, traditional scouting-driven baseball operations department, he wanted to do both.

I read a discussion with Will Carroll, who listed his own top 10 GM candidates for SI , where he said that guys like Cherington aren't really candidates because they have it too good where they're at right now.  I respect Carroll's knowledge of the game, but that's just utter nonsense.  Any baseball man worth his salt wants to see what he can do on his own, to see if he can take the reins and lead a team to a championship.  If they don't, then why are they even in the game?

Besides, Cherington himself has said that he wants to be a GM.

I learned more [from Epstein] about the game and people and how to get things done and how to do all of that with a sense of humor and compassion. It has made me a better person and if I’m ever lucky enough to be a GM it’ll make me a much better GM. I’ve been incredibly lucky and I think the only reason my name is out there at all as a GM candidate is because of those experiences.

There is no better opportunity right now than the one here in Chicago.  It's a great baseball city with enormous resources and fans with an overwhelming passion for the game.  Ricketts has said he wants the Cubs to win a World Series and will provide whatever the next GM needs to help him make that happen.   And if a GM wins here, he will be a hero for life.  Winning the first championship since 1908 may just go down as the greatest accomplishment in all of sports.  What prospective GM wouldn't want to be in that kind of situation?

I certainly think Ben Cherington would and he should be the guy to get that opportunity.

 

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  • Was going to wait until tomorrow but the Cub GM situation is just too hot a topic right now!

  • The thing I like about Hahn is that he's an Illinois native and grew up a Cub fan. Plus his other qualifications.

  • Raymond, I think Hahn is a great candidate and if he wound up being the guy I would not be disappointed at all. Cherington happens to be my personal choice but there's a lot of great names out there and Hahn is at or near the top of that list.

  • Geez John ... that's just brilliant stuff !!!! Really, really good.

    I'm sure Colletti and Hahn will get serious consideration. Does the fact Cashman has a job until the end of the baseball season present a problem? Do you see this as being something that should be completed sooner rather than later? There was a comment that the Cubs are first out there in the market ... I'm not sure that matters very much.

    Did you get the feeling that Kenney will be shuffled off to a "business" title and completely removed from baseball ops?

    About today's game ... I loved the approach in the 10th inning. Soto going the other way, Byrd putting down a really good bunt, and Colvin with a nice, compact 2-strike swing, just taking the ball back up the middle. And yet another solid job by the bullpen.

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    Not a fan of Colleti. If you really want change. He's not the guy. He's a lot like Hendry. As for Cashman, I think he's still in play -- and he's one of the few guys where being GM of the Cubs would actually be LESS pressure!

    I think Kenney won't be making any important baseball operation decisions from here on out. Everything Ricketts said seemed to indicate that. He values him as a businessman, but said nothing about his baseball skills. And when he listed a group of execs, he listed Kenney as one of the business sector guys. I think --- and hope -- his meddling is a thing of the past.

    I missed the game today because of a crazy schedule...but I appreciate the excellent breakdown of that 10th inning. Wish I could have seen it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hey ... if you're home, they're replaying the game on CSN now.

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    Thanks for the heads up...I'm going to have to DVR it...

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agree re: Colletti. Did a good job with what he had in LA but that's not quite the inspiration we need.

  • To me Ben Cherington is THE ideal candidate to be the next GM. He combines all the qualities you want in a GM, it's not going to be existing GM like Friedman or Cashman. As for Rick Hahn, there are grumblings that Reinsdorf may kick Williams upstairs to a Sr.Advisor position and promote Hahn to GM. There are whispers that if the hite Sox don't make the playoffs this year ( and they won't) Reinsdorf wants to shake things up bigtime after this season. One of the moves would be to move Williams to a Sr. VP/CEO role and leave all day to day operations to Hahn. As for Crane Kenney, I think he's going to be quietly moved to a Sr. VP/Business Operations role after the season. Ricketts knows if he's going to follow thru with wholesale changes everybody has to go.

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    I would love this to happen. I've always said that the Cubs need to hire somebody from an organization that values sabermetrics and scouting deeply (Rays, Blue Jays, Red Sox, etc.), so Cherington is the ideal candidate. My question is if he would bring Ryne Sandberg to manage the Cubs? I think that would inject a lot of optimism into the organization, and if coupled with lower ticket prices, could lead to improved attendance and revenue.

  • In reply to Gabe Hauari:

    Sandberg would have to earn this job purely on merit...which isn't out of the realm of possibility because he's done well the last 2 1/2 years. Also a good way to ingratiate yourselves to Cubs fans. But we have to keep open the possibility that he may already have his own people in mind too. Ultimately, he'll probably hire the guy he's just more comfortable with.

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    There are two different themes I'm hearing in term of the next GM. The national media are all speculating on established guys like Beane, Cashman and Friedman, but the Chicago guys, who are the ones with the best contacts, all seem to be pointing to Cherington or Hahn. Take that for whatever it's worth.

    My gut says, based on Rickett's own comments and the analysis of the local people who cover the Cubs, is that this isn't going to take long. My guess is Ricketts wants the new GM to be able to hit the ground running the moment the season is over. The only way to do that would be to hire an assistant GM away from another organization, which is what will most likely happen, or that might be able to get an established GM, Friedman, from a team that is out of contention.

    I don't think they will go after Beane. My impression is that people close to Ricketts think Beane is to dependent upon sabremetrics. Plus he is still under contract in Oakland, and they might have to give up a prospect to get him. Cashman's contract is up with the Yankees, but his personality might not mesh with Ricketts, and you have to wonder if his success was really him or Steinbrenner's $$$. Friedman, whose contract is also about to be up, will be the guy if it is already an established GM in my opinion.

    There is a lot of talk about Friedman and Houston. He and his wife are both from there, but some people think Friedman would only leave Tampa for a job that was truly a step up, and that aint Houston. The Astros pockets aren't much deeper than Tampa's.

    Anyways, those are my thoughts, based on what I've been able to gather today.

  • I would think Ricketts would like someone in place by the fall. There are still some decisions to make...who's going to play in the AZ Fall League, arbitration, Rule 5, the winter meetings...and you want this person to be as acclimated as soon as possible. I'll be shocked if this drags on.

    I think those are all good points as far as Beane, Friedman, and Cashman...I don't think they're going to be final candidates -- if they're even serious candidates at all. Friedman is the most likely of the three, but there's some concern he relied on Hunsicker a lot for the scouting portion of his job -- with the Cubs he won't have that kind of fallback (unless you want to extend Wilken's job even more).

    Friedman and Houston is something I've heard about as well. They'll be tough to beat because of the built in advantages they have and I really don't believe the Cubs feel strongly enough about him to get into a bidding war.

  • If you had your hand on the button John, would you hire Cherington?

  • In reply to Curtis Shaw Flagg:

    Wow...what a great question!

    Yes, I believe I would. I feel like I'm going a bit against the grain on this one but he really seems like the right guy to me. Of course...I don't have the benefit of interviews or anything like that, but given what I know about each GMs skillset, I think Cherington is the best fit.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, did you get my e-mail?

  • In reply to Cameron Macpherson:

    I did. I responded to it earlier. It's been one of those days again!

  • I'd love Cherington, you've had me comvinced for a couple of months now. This search kind of reminds me of the Bulls most recent search for a new coach. A lot of speculation about high profile guys, guys who could become available after the season if you gamble a bit to wait. They ended up hiring the guy I liked all along, an up and coming assistant that I think fit them to a T, and I think that's what we have here.

    A reminder to veryone, keep voting for John & Cubs Den as blogger of the year:

    http://chicago.blogger.cbslocal.com/most-valuable-blogger/blog/106-cubs-den/

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Thanks ChiRy for the reminder! Remember everyone, you can also click on the badge on the right hand rail (underneath the MLB Video and the Cubs Fan Confidence Index) and it will take you directly to the website.

    Good comparison with Thibodeau. A lot of us felt he was the right man for the job..so far it looks like we were right.

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    I voted for Cubs Den! Do you think Cherington would do a better job spreading out the payroll and really paying guys that deserve the money (Castro and Garza come to mind). Hendry tended to give out millions to guys who should have been paid a lot less. I want a guy who makes smart contract decisions (the opposite of the Soriano and Zambrano deals). Would Cherington provide that?

  • In reply to Gabe Hauari:

    I think so. He did handle some financial matters in Boston, particularly arbitration. Hahn is probably the best man for those kind of longer term negotiations, though. That's his strength...but I like Cherington's all-around skill set better.

    By the way...a couple of new Cubs made their debut in Arizona today. Rock Shoulders played first and went 0-3, 1BB while Daniel Lockhart went 2-5. Recent Cuban signee Yoanner Negrin continues to dominate. They're going to need to move him up to either Daytona or Tennessee.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I hope Negrin can make it to the big leagues soon, might not be that far away at 27. Does he project as a starter or reliever?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    He will be a reliever barring any sudden change in plans. That'll get him to the majors quickly.

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    Great Job John. I just found your blog. Its a real winner.

  • In reply to Mark Monforti:

    Thanks Mark!

  • Sounds like Ricketts is interested in experienced GMs first, assistants second.

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    I listened to that entire press conference, and I didn't read it either way.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Agreed, I think some in the press are reading it the wrong way. He said he was looking for "someone who has been in a winning culture, and someone who can bring some of the lessons from that over and who has a track record of success."

    Cherington has been in a winning culture. He's learned some valuable lessons I'm sure from his own experiences as VP, Asst. GM, & scout, and from his boss Epstein as well. I'm sure the actions he's taken have also left a track record of success as well. Plus he does have experience as co GM while Epstein was out too.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Going to have to listen that press conference again, see what it is that has people saying it's likely going to be a veteran. The one thing that does lead me to believe he could be leaning that way is that the GM will be reporting directly toward Ricketts, so the new GM has to be comfortable with almost immediate autonomy. That doesn't rule out Cherington, necessarily, because he and Hoyer did run the Red Sox while Epstein was out, so he does have more experience than your average Asst. GM -- but I do think that scenario would make it a little tougher for him.

  • Raymond, you're definitely not the only one who interpreted it that way...lots of people think he hinted that as well. I didn't catch it though. Do you know which line he said that gave people that impression?

    Heard today that the Cubs can have almost anyone they want, if they so choose. Reports are that execs around the league at all level of experience would be interested in talking about the Cubs GM job...and if that's the case, then it would make some sense for them to pursue someone with some experience.

  • Article in the Trib'.

  • Got it...thanks!

    I would like Andrew Friedman out of those choices if that is the case...good to see Cherington got a mention, though ;)

    Friedman would be a great catch, in my opinion. My biggest concern with him is his availability. Some think he may want to go home to Houston. That would be a mistake, though. If you're looking for a GM job, the Cubs have to be at the top of your list.

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    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/ct-spt-0821-next-gm-cubs-future-chica20110821,0,7572084.story

  • I would prefer that Ricketts not exclude anyone too soon.

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    I will give you two names to exclude: Colletti and Rizzo. Colletti is to much like Hendry, and Rizzo is a control freak by all accounts.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    If Colletti even gets an interview I'm going to start freaking out.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You won't be the only one.

  • I agree within reason. There are some guys that probably needn't apply only because the Cubs GM position is a plum job. They should get to choose from a nice list of candidates.

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    John, what are your thoughts on Josh Byrnes?

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Watching Iowa...Jackson is 3 for 3...Nick Struck was cruising until this 6th inning...

    Lukewarm. If they hire him, I won't be terribly upset -- but you would think the Cubs could get someone better. It would be kind of a letdown...like they were settling a bit.

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    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/812469-jim-hendry-out-as-cubs-gm-5-reasons-they-wont-sign-pujols-or-fielder

    Interesting article, and it is probably more on target than off. I've said all along we probably wouldn't sign either Pujols or Fielder for most of the same reasons.

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    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/812469-jim-hendry-out-as-cubs-gm-5-reasons-they-wont-sign-pujols-or-fielder

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    Whomever it is going to be, Ricketts can't afford to wait to long until after the World Series to make the hire. If he does, the new GM will be coming in with a handi-cap.

    I have mixed feelings about Cashman, but I like the fact that he seems to have differences of opinions with the Steinbrenners. I think the way the Steinbrenners operate has often come to the detriment of the Yankees.

  • I agree on not wanting Colletti, don't know much about Rizzo.

  • Rizzo's huge contract to Jayson Werth has to have Ricketts just a little bit worried. We've seen enough of that in the past few years.

  • Nah, Coletti will not be a candidate, most people in baseball consider the Asst GM Logan White to be the real brains in the Dodgers front office. The only active GM who I see being a candidate is Friedman, only because he's supposedly getting frustrated with the Ray's ownership. As for Rizzo , he's considered a bit of a jerk and a control freak, other people in baseball thinks he's overated.

  • In reply to rodeosteve:

    Thanks for the insight...coincidentally I did a little right up on Friedman tonight. Had too many people bring him up, so I have to explore that possibility too.

    I'm hoping the early firing of Hendry gives the Cubs a big head start over Houston while they figure out their ownership situation.

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