The first year of a new general manager’s tenure is not always a memorable one, but Boston Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has had an outstanding start to his career and one that’s A+ worthy.
GMs are evaluated by more than just wins. Yes, the Red Sox haven’t played as well as they could’ve this year and don’t look much different than last September’s collapsing team, but that’s OK for now. Cherington not only has to worry about the current status of the team, but the future too.
What Cherington’s done in 2012 will be overlooked just because Boston will likely finish either in fourth or last place in the American League East. That’s not a reason to worry about how Cherington will manage this team going forward. Instead, it’s a reason to believe that he can take this team to new heights and bring home a World Series title within the next few years.
Making a Change When Change Was Needed
If you paid even the slightest bit of attention to the 2012 Boston Red Sox, you knew that things were not going as planned. Relationships between players and players, players and coaches, coaches and coaches, coaches and management, etc., were atrocious. Cherington took matters into his own hands, realizing that something had to be done to at least try and fix this team.
So what did Cherington do? He completed one of the biggest trades in Red Sox history, dealing three of the highest-paid players on the roster—Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez—and basically started over.
What grade would you give Ben Cherington in Year 1 as the GM?
There was disappointment all around Fenway Park this season, and Cherington couldn’t let a couple of headaches get in the way of his team. This upcoming offseason should be an interesting one for sure.
What will he decide to do with Bobby Valentine? What about Jacoby Ellsbury? Will he clear even more payroll? He’s already done a fantastic job of making adjustments so that he employs a team that can win a championship.
Having a Great Focus Going Forward
After the Red Sox completed the blockbuster deal, "discipline" is the word that Cherington harped on during the press conference. The Red Sox need to make disciplined moves going forward, not impulse ones.
If the New York Yankees go out this offseason and sign three All-Stars to massive contracts, good for them. There does not have to be a reactionary move by the Red Sox to try and counter it. It doesn’t work and there’s a ton of proof for that statement. Crawford was a bust while in Boston. Daisuke Matsuzaka didn’t really work out. John Lackey has been a nightmare.
Boston doesn’t need to go out and sign players to multimillion dollar deals. Making smaller moves is more likely and much smarter. Cherington knows this and will focus on these types of moves going forward.
Cherington has to run this team his way. Not Larry Lucchino’s way. Not John Henry’s way. Not Red Sox Nation’s way. He has to make disciplined moves and run the team his way.
Outstanding Player Development
How many people remember what Cherington’s job was before he was named the general manager? Let me refresh your memory. He was a player development guru.
Cherington’s most important task is to improve this team, and the future is already looking very bright. I can’t remember a year where so many minor leaguers were at the top of their game and rapidly moving up throughout the organization. Cherington has set himself up perfectly for the next couple of years and then well beyond that.
One of the most crucial decisions of a GM’s tenure is when to promote minor leaguers from one level to another. If you mess that up, their career could be ruined.
Well, nearly every player that has been promoted from Single-A Salem to Double-A Portland, Double-A Portland to Triple-A Pawtucket, or even Triple-A Pawtucket to the big leagues has succeeded. That’s very rare and something to really look forward to.
Boston now has a very deep minor league system with players who could make an immediate impact on the Red Sox sooner rather than later.