Cherington travels 'fortunate path' to GM job

Cherington travels 'fortunate path' to GM job
October 25, 2011, 10:58 pm
Share This Post

BOSTON The Red Sox introduced Ben Cherington Tuesday afternoon as the teams 14th general manager.

Advanced scout, amateur scout, pro scout, international scout, farm director, vice-president of player personnel, assistant general manager are among the duties he has performed with great skill for three different and excellent general managers over his 14 years in major league baseball, said Sox presidentCEO Larry Lucchino in his introductory remarks.

Cherington, 37, has been with the organization since 1999, joining the team as a Mid-Atlantic area scout and had been the assistant general manager since January 2009. A native of Meriden, NH, native, Cherington played baseball at Amherst College and began his career with the Indians in 1998.

As many of you know I grew up in New Hampshire, rooting for the Red Sox and Im incredibly lucky to say Im headed into my 14thseason with the team, Cherington said. My mom will tell you when I was growing up, it was a very small town, and I used to make her drive down and get the Sunday Globe and spend the two dollars just so I could read the Sunday notes column. I dont think she understood that at the time.

It was through that and occasional trips down toBoston, my grandmother would take me to see games and sit in the bleachers, that I developed a passion for baseball and specifically the Red Sox, and its that passion thats led me down an incredibly fortunate path to this day.

This was the second time Cherington has been introduced as the Sox GM. From December 12, 2005, until January 19, 2006, he and Jed Hoyer served as co-GMs, while Theo Epstein, who was introduced Tuesday morning as the Cubs president of baseball operations, had left the Red Sox for just under three months in a dispute.

Cherington was part of the group, along with Hoyer, and top advisors Bill Lajoie and Craig Shipley, that engineered the trade with the Marlins to bring Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett to Boston. That deal helped lead the Sox to the 2007 World Series.

This year, Cheringtons offseason workload will be much more significant, after a season that began with so much promise and hype, and ended in a horrendous and historic collapse.

I think that we have work to do this offseason to restore the culture that we expect in the clubhouse, to restore the level of accountability, Cherington said. I dont believe that theres a silver bullet that will be the answer to that, its multi-factorial. Certainly we have an important hire in the next manager and he will be a big part of it. And were all going to be a big part of it. And most importantly the players are going to be a big part of it, and I know from talking to players theres a great motivation to clean up whatever does need to be cleaned up in the clubhouse and move forward to 2012.

After working under Epstein as GM for the last nine seasons, Cherington will be looking to separate himself, making his own identity as GM.

I think we do share a lot in common as far as our general philosophy in putting a team together, Cherington said. Certainly we both would want relentless lineups that are full of guys that get on base and drive up pitch counts. We both believe in having as many well-rounded position players on the team, guys that can defend and run the bases, impact the game in different ways. We both believe in the importance in a core group of young players and investing in scouting and player development. We both believe in having guys on the pitching staff with stuff who pound the strike zone. Thats a good formula in the American League East. So the basic principles are largely the same.

But, Im a different person. My management styles different. I know that I need to collaborate, not just in baseball operations but with others in the organization and utilize everyones expertise to make the best decisions for the team over the long run. And Im new at this job. Theo was eight or nine years into it over the last couple of years. And so thats a difference. And Im going to treat the job a little bit differently because Im at a different level, a different point in my tenure. And I think our backgrounds are different even though we come from New England, we root for the Red Sox growing up, theres similarities. But our backgrounds, at least professional backgrounds, are different. My path was more of a scouting and player development path. His path was more of a front office, baseball ops, major league operations path. I think that were both able to wear different hats. And I know Theo was able to do that really well. But we do have different experiences and to some extent those are going to shape how we do the job and how we manage the position.

The Sox did not interview any other candidates for the position this time. Lucchino said the belief was that Cheringtons background and tenure with the organization made him the right choice.

"I think acclamation is closer to it, Lucchino said. We sat down, Theo made clear that he thought that Ben was a worthy successor for him and we had had plenty of experience with Ben. We certainly knew Ben's history and his on-field performance as well. And so it was a rather quick consensus that was formed.

I have seen Ben and the effect he has on the people he worked with. I think he is, has developed a sense of admiration and respect from his coworkers that is always important when youre in a leadership role. I have seen Ben on draft day immerse himself in that entire process, the preparation for it. The folks in baseball operations work no harder than they do in the months before the draft. Ive seen Ben show a facility with that process and with those people.

I know that it was Ben Cherington who fought -- fought is the wrong metaphor, the wrong suggestion but asserted that Adrian Beltre would be a terrific fit, as a free agent in 2010 on a one-year deal that was carved there was something that he worked hard for. So hes gotten, hes rolled up his sleeves, hes done the work, he has the respect, he is a leader. His background in scouting is immensely impressive to me. Ive always believed in hybrid baseball executives and ben is a hybrid baseball executive. He is conversant with, comfortable with progressive thinking, statistical analysis, etc. He also has a healthy, sincere respect for traditional observational scouting. You put those two together, you get the best baseball evaluators, the best baseball executives.

Cherington said he is not intimidated by the pressure and attention that comes with being the general manager of the Boston Red Sox.

My eyes are wide opened that there are going to be tough days that come with this job but there's so much enormous upside, he said. I dont have any reservation about taking this job because of the people that Im going to work with every day. That includes the baseball ops staff and the ownership but it also includes the players and the guys in the clubhouse. I believe in the group we have here.

I feel like Ive been preparing for this job ever since my first job in baseball . . . Over the last year or two as Ive felt I was getting closer to being truly prepared to being a general manager I thought about it a lot more and thats when I started to talk to Theo about potential succession plans, potential transition not knowing exactly when that would occur and also not assuminganything. This job would be highly coveted. Theres hundreds of people in baseball that want this job. So, as much as I wanted it, I never assumed it was going to be mine but I hoped it would and I started talking to Theo about that over the last couple of years."

A large contingent of Red Sox employees attended the press conference. But principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner were not in attendance. Lucchino cited scheduling conflicts, recommending not to read too much into the absences.

Their schedules were such that theyre out of town, Lucchino said. Believe me, they're here in spirit. I suspect theyre watching every golden minute of this press conference. Ones in California, ones inFlorida. As you may know, this was something that we had tosqueeze into this particular date because of the World Series. So, I suspect that influenced it as well. But, I wouldnt read anything into that."