|Red Sox minor league notebook: No major differences with Dave Dombrowski compared to Ben Cherington||04.21.16 at 8:54 am ET|
1. When president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was hired last August to take over for general manager Ben Cherington, there was some sense that the Red Sox’ minor league system would change because of Dombrowski’s reputation for never shying away from trading top prospects and Cherington being a former director of player development and sometimes being hesitant to part ways with top prospects.
Roughly nine months later, that hasn’t been the case as the transition from Cherington to Dombrowski from a minor league perspective has been a positive one with not too much change as a lot of what the Red Sox had in place under Cherington and his staff has stayed in place.
“I don’t think that it is significantly different,” Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett said recently. “He has high expectations for everybody. He pushes the players and coaches. He’s a guy that is very competitive and wants players to be successful. He’s had some good ideas and interesting things that we’re able to implement and think about. At the same time, he’s been great to bounce ideas off of and talk about how we do things.”
Dombrowski did make a major trade with the farm system this offseason when the Red Sox traded outfielder Manuel Margot, infielders Javier Guerra and Carlos Asuaje, and left-hander Logan Allen to the Padres for All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel. But a trade like that would have likely happened under anyone as the Red Sox had a number of talented prospects and not all could one day be on the same roster in Boston and the team desperately needed to improve the bullpen.
The one emphasis that has adjusted a bit with Dombrowski is the importance of pitching, especially power pitching throughout the organization.
With Dombrowski being in baseball for roughly 30 years, the Red Sox’ staff is glad to have him on their side now.
“He’s really been good I think for everybody,” minor league pitching coordinator Ralph Treuel said recently. “We were used to Ben and Theo [Epstein] and you look at this guy and his track record with what he’s done. He’s pretty good coming in and getting a guy like that to come in and run your organization along with (general manager) Mike Hazen, we’re very fortunate to have a guy like that.”
2. Center fielder Andrew Benintendi has got off to a fast start with High-A Salem. Through 13 games he is batting .327 with 10 RBIs. Of his 17 hits, 10 have been for extra bases, including six triples. The Red Sox’ first-round pick last season noted he worked on his agility in the offseason and he’s seeing it pay off first-hand with the number of triples through 13 games.
“The parks that we play in are really big. Once you get it in the gap or down the line, it’s all running from there,” Benintendi said. “This offseason I worked on getting fast and it’s definitely paying off.”
The Arkansas product played in 19 games with Single-A Greenville last season following his promotion from short-season, Single-A Lowell. Benintendi noted how that helped build the foundation for what is now great chemistry between all of the top prospects now in Salem, which includes Yoan Moncada, Rafeal Devers and Mauricio Dubon.
“I think it started last year in Greenville. I’ve played with Devers and Moncada [and Dubon] for probably around 40 games. Our chemistry is pretty good — really everybody up and down the lineup,” he said. “We all mesh really well and all hang out together. The bond that we created has just started and hopefully we can continue it for a long time.”
3. After breaking his right hand in an altercation with a teammate in the middle of March, Red Sox right-hander Michael Kopech has begun playing catch in Fort Myers. It is the first step in him returning to game action, as he couldn’t do anything throwing related for roughly a month. There’s no timetable on him joining an affiliate, or which affiliate that would be as his season with Single-A Greenville was shortened last year after being suspended 50 games for testing positive for Oxilofrine, a banned substance.
Kopech is one of the top pitchers in the Red Sox’ minor league system as his fastball reaches the high-to-mid 90s. In 78 2/3 professional innings between the Florida Gulf Coast League and Single-A, he’s struck out 86 batters. The 2014 first-round pick could be an important part of the Red Sox’ future if he can stay out of trouble off the field.
4. The Red Sox’ 2013 first-round pick, left-hander Trey Ball, hasn’t joined a team yet as he is still recovering from a knee injury suffered at the beginning of spring training. Ball threw four innings in a simulated game on Monday in Fort Myers and is getting close to being sent out to an affiliate. It isn’t known which team that will be, although it could be getting a few more starts in High-A Salem where he went 9-13 with a 4.73 ERA last season.
Ball hasn’t been what many expected him to be being the No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 draft, but it’s worth noting he just started exclusively pitching after being drafted three years ago. Each year he’s made strides in learning how to pitch and this could be a breakout season for the 6-foot-5 lefty.
5. The most impressive thing about Moncada’s start with Salem, aside from his .357 average, has been his ability to create havoc on the bases. In 12 games he has 13 stolen bases. This has benefited the entire Salem lineup and drawn the attention of his teammates.
“I’ve never played with anybody like that,” Benintendi said. “Hitting behind him it’s pretty fun because when he gets on, by the time I get up he’s usually in scoring position. When he’s able to do that he applies pressure on the pitcher and the pitcher’s are worried about him stealing and the pitcher isn’t as focused on throwing strikes and spotting up. It’s very beneficial for everybody up and down the lineup. He’s doing a great job.”
Moncada, who is one of the most athletic players in all of minor league baseball, stole 49 bases in 81 games with Single-A Greenville last year.
|Ben Cherington to teach class at Columbia University||10.26.15 at 12:42 pm ET|
According to a press release, Cherington will be an executive in residence and “will be instructing a class on the topic of leadership in sports this spring, in the Master of Science in Sports Management degree program.”
The program is directed by Vince Gennaro, who also serves as president of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
“I’m honored to join the team at Columbia. Vince and his team have built a program that brings students and industry leaders together in the most current and impactful ways,” said Cherington, who has an undergraduate degree from Amherst College and a graduate degree in sports management from UMass-Amherst. “Two of my favorite parts of working in baseball have been to collaborate with outstanding people looking to make a difference, and, to help others grow. I hope sharing my experience can help play a small role in Columbia’s mission to prepare its students for a meaningful and impactful career in the sports industry.”
Said Gennaro: “The addition of Ben to our Columbia program reflects our commitment to building a curriculum that combines the real world experiences of sports industry leaders, with the academic rigor of an Ivy League University. Ben and I will continue to explore additional ways in which he can add value to our students and our program.”
|Mike Hazen on D&C: ‘I think we’re right around the corner’ from competing for a title||09.25.15 at 10:08 am ET|
Mike Hazen, who on Thursday was promoted to Red Sox senior vice president and general manager, checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning and said he believes the team is not far away from competing for another championship. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Hazen, 39, has been with the organization for a decade, including two World Series titles and two (closing in on three) last-place finishes in the AL East.
“There has been a lot of success. Certainly the last few years are unacceptable and we need to do a better job of what we’re doing at the major league level specifically,” he said. “I think if you look at the farm system — and many consider it to be the No. 1 farm system — you look at the youth on the major league roster, I think there are a lot of good things going on here and I hope that is a reflection of that. Maybe this promotion initially is a reflection of that, because there are a lot of good, hard-working scouts, front-office people, player-development staff that have been here for a long time that have been very successful.”
Hazel said he wasn’t sure what would happen after Dombrowski was brought in last month and Ben Cherington stepped down.
“You never know. These things go in many different directions,” Hazen said. “I didn’t know Dave very well at that point in time. And so at that point you just don’t know. You never know how he’s going to assess the situation. Thankfully for us, a lot of us, I think he’s come in and been open-minded to how the front office could be constructed and how, depending on what he needs, what he needs to make the best decisions. Thankfully for a lot of us he took his time through that. It’s been a month, I’ve had the opportunity to work with him now for a month. We just jumped right in on Day 1, just getting after it. Hopefully that connection was started then and has continued to now.”
|Report: Ben Cherington unlikely to pursue general manager openings this fall||09.03.15 at 10:11 am ET|
Former Red Sox general manger Ben Cherington has been out of work for a few weeks and it looks like it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.
According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Cherington is unlikely to pursue general manager openings this fall. Rosenthal added that teams have contacted him, but he is simply in listening mode.
Cherington was the Red Sox’ general manager for four years after being in the organization for over 17 years. He left the organization after Dave Dombrowski was brought on as president of baseball operations.
For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.
Sources: Former #RedSox GM Cherington unlikely to pursue GM openings this fall. Teams have contacted him; he is simply in listening mode.
‘ Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) September 3, 2015
|Ben Cherington talks Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval at Saberseminar||08.22.15 at 5:57 pm ET|
According to those at the event, Cherington joked, it’s “a progressive event that even invites the unemployed.”
Conducting a Q&A with those attending, Cherington was asked a number of questions about the Red Sox‘ organization and some of the recent moves that he and the organization made.
Cherington signed Hanley Ramirez to a four-year, $88 million this offseason, as he would make the switch to being an infielder his entire career to the outfield. Although he’s only been charged with four errors, it hasn’t gone as planned in left field.
“Nobody knew. We didn’t know what he would be defensively in left field,” Cherington said to those at the event. “He’d never done it. So it’s impossible to know. We made a bet based on history of what players look like moving from a middle infield position to another position. And there’s data that can help us make an educated guess. He wanted to and seemed committed to doing it … It hasn’t gone well.”
Also this offseason, the team signed Pablo Sandoval to play third base and help improve the offense. Cherington described the Red Sox‘ third base position as “a black hole” before the signing of Sandoval.
“We actually didn’t think that Fenway Park would have as positive an impact on Pablo as it might for some other hitters,” he said. “That was not the driving force behind signing him. The driving force behind signing him is we’re trying to build a winning team, we had a black hole at third base for two years, he was the right age and we’re trying to improve that position.”
Another third baseman — Josh Donaldson — was traded in the offseason as the Blue Jays were able to strike a deal with the Athletics. Cherington acknowledged the Red Sox inquired about him, but nothing ever came about.
“Yes, called Oakland early in the offseason as we normally would,” Cherington said. “Was told at the beginning of the offseason that they weren’t moving him. So give Toronto credit. They persisted.”
With the former general manager currently out of a job as he declined to stay with the team after they hired Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations this week, Cherington was asked what he would do differently in the future.
“I do feel like a couple mistakes we’ve made the last few years is when we got in a rush,” he said. “That’s the one, I am going to try to not be in a rush. But I don’t know what will happen [in the future]. There’s lots of hard parts about not being there. And then there’s hopefully some good stuff, an opportunity to learn something else, try something new. We’ll see. I think in time I’ll be able to answer that question.”
|Ben Cherington out with Sox because he felt he couldn’t be all-in||08.19.15 at 5:16 pm ET|
As Ben Cherington gave his final press conference as a Red Sox employee, the longtime executive repeatedly circled back to two words: all-in.
Cherington explained Wednesday that because he felt he couldn’t be all-in in a role working under new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, he made the decision to leave the organization after 17 years.
“I talked to Dave briefly yesterday on the phone, and we didn’t spend a lot of time on it,” Cherington said when asked what his role would have been had he stayed. “He made it clear to me, and I heard this from John [Henry] also, that he was coming in as president of baseball operations, chief baseball officer, whatever you want to call it, and in that position he was being given sole decision-making authority for baseball matters, as I would expect he would.
“So we all know that baseball operations is a big job. There’s a lot to do. I’ve always felt it’s about a team of people; it’s not about one person. We didn’t get into a detailed conversation about exactly what my role would have been, but I do know that the only way it was going to work for Dave or for me and ultimately the Red Sox [was] if I was all-in and fully committed to that vision. I just came to the determination that I wasn’t. It has nothing to do with the individuals involved. I have great respect for Dave and I’m sure he’ll do really good things.”
While Cherington held himself responsible for the team’s struggles the last two seasons, the front-office shakeup did come as something as a surprise. After spending the last several weeks in talks with Henry about how to find what Cherington called “solutions to the problems that exist, particularly at the Major League level,” Cherington asked for clarification on what the recent addition of former Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto. He was told that the move was not necessarily part of a bigger plan.
“John and Tom met with Jerry when he was in town, and at that time, having been in a lot of conversations with John over the course of the summer, I asked again about his vision for the structure, the front office structure,” Cherington said. “I felt like in asking Jerry to come in at that time, that I wasn’t sure that was going to be appropriate if there was something going on that I didn’t know about or some major change. At that time, he said no. He had met with Jerry, liked him. We pursued that, and so that was the path we were going down. I was only focused on trying to find solutions to the problems we’ve had, and then Saturday I was told they were pursuing Dave.”
The move was surprising due to recent discussions he’d had with ownership following Larry Lucchino‘s decision to step down as as president and CEO of the team. Cherington intimated that he expected the next president to be more of an executive than a baseball mind.
“At that time, the information I had was that the president of baseball operations model was not something that they were considering,” Cherington said. “That said, to be clear, I fully understood that they have a right to change their mind for pursue that at any time.”
Cherington regularly praised both Red Sox ownership and Dombrowski throughout the 27-minute press conference, expressing his gratitude to work for the Red Sox in the many roles in which he’s served. While the Sox announced he would stay on temporarily to help in the transition process, Cherington said he didn’t expect them to need much from him. He did reveal that he has gotten a couple calls from other teams since word came down that he’d be leaving, but said it’s too early for him to think about what he’d like to do next.
“It’s been a great, incredible run,” he said. “I’m incredibly grateful for every opportunity I’ve been given: some highs, some lows, some in-betweens. I don’t think that I should make any decision right now. I think I just need to give this a little space, and we’ll see. I love the game. I’m 41, so I’m going to work. We’ll see. We’ll just see what comes.”
|John Henry, Dave Dombrowski wanted Ben Cherington to stay, but knew ‘substantial risk’ he wouldn’t||at 4:51 pm ET|
After all, general manager Ben Cherington had been with the Red Sox for the last four years as general manager and 17 years as a full-time member of the organization after two as an intern.
But, that was a risk they were willing to take.
“Over the summer there’s been much discussion about strengthening baseball organization internally,” Henry said during the press conference introducing Dombrowski in a prepared statement. “On Aug. 4 when the Tigers announced a shakeup of Dave leaving, I spoke to Tom [Werner] and Ben [Cherington] about having a conversation of Dave. Tom and I wanted to see if there was a fit for Dave within the Red Sox organization. Ben did not object. Would our philosophies coincide in the present day?
“Tom, Mike Gordon and I subsequently met with Dave on Aug. 13 at the Chicago owners meeting and had a long discussion about the future, about baseball philosophy and whether or not there was a fit. We all left there thinking he would substantially strengthen the organization with Dave as president of baseball. We realized that our baseball views were in fact indeed the same, that Dave intends to balance scouting, data analytics, player makeup and all the tools in his toolbox. We hoped that Ben Cherington would remain as general manager, but we knew there was a substantial risk he would not. This was our decision to make.
“Tom and I have an obligation to do everything we possibly can to win for this city of Boston and Red Sox fans everywhere. As owners we’re ultimately responsible for the poor results we’ve had over the past two years and for results going forward.”
Cherington ultimately decided against staying with the organization, saying he couldn’t be “all in.” The former general manager said he didn’t hear about the organization speaking to Dombrowski until last Saturday, not Aug. 4 like Henry had stated.
“John [Henry] and I, we’re disappointed with his decision, but respect it,” Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said. “We think the world of Ben. As we’ve said, he was the chief architect of our success in 2013 and has built a strong nucleus going forward. He’s been in the organization for 18 years and we’re disappointed, but respectful of his decision.”
|Sam Kennedy on M&F: ‘We certainly hoped that [Ben Cherington] would have stayed,’ but understand he wanted ‘clean break’||at 1:46 pm ET|
Red Sox vice president/COO Sam Kennedy joined Merloni and Fauria on Wednesday as part of the Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon to talk about the Red Sox‘ partnership with the Jimmy Fund and Dana Farber as well as the coming changes to the organization. To hear the interview, go to the Merloni and Fauria audio on demand page.
Kennedy described the opportunity to bring Dave Dombrowski into the organization as a “rare and unique” one, emphasizing how the new president of baseball operations is a “proven winner.” He, along with John Henry and Tom Werner, didn’t want interim manager Torey Lovullo to find out from the media, so the group went down and told him. Later, he, Lovullo and assistant general manager Mike Hazen addressed the team and told players about both Dombrowski joining the organization and Ben Cherington stepping down as general manager. Kennedy said he had hoped Cherington would stay on but understood his decision.
“John and Tom and I met with Ben,” he said. “We had a great conversation that was completely open and honest. And I think there was disappointment but an understanding that he didn’t want to remain in the in the general manager position. We certainly hoped that he would have stayed, but we also understand that he felt it was best to make a clean break. So we’ve got to move on, got to focus on what’s in front of us not what’s behind us, and I’m really excited for what’s ahead of us given the caliber of the executive that we’ve just added to our team.”
Kennedy said that Dombrowski’s introduction on Wednesday afternoon again signifies that he, Henry, Werner and the entire Fenway Sports Group are committed to winning.
“We are here with that central mission of playing meaningful baseball games in October, and we need to do everything in our power to strengthen that baseball operation,” he said. “We’ve got great people here in the organization, bringing in a man of Dave’s caliber with his experience. I think he came into baseball in 1978, been in the game 37 years. He is a baseball man through and through. I’m excited to work with him, I’m excited to see his style of leadership, and we’re going to begin that process [Wednesday].”
|Torey Lovullo sums up Red Sox’ recent events: ‘It’s been an awkward week to say the least’||at 12:20 am ET|
Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo put it best when speaking following Tuesday’s game after it was announced the team has hired Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations and general manager Ben Cherington will not stick around.
“It’s been an awkward week to say the least starting with John [Farrell‘s] news — we just got through that, we’re moving forward from that and then today’s news,” Lovullo said.
Farrell announced he has stage 1 lymphoma Friday and that Lovullo would take over as interim manager, as he began chemotherapy Tuesday. After the team had a few days to digest that news, it learned their general manager wouldn’t be returning and a new president of baseball operations and subsequent new general manager would be brought in.
New club president Sam Kennedy spoke to the team and coaching staff following the game to deliver the news. Right after, Lovullo walked up the stairs for his usual postgame press conference, although this one much different than his other three as interim manager.
“You know, this all all such fresh news to me,” he started when first asked of the announced moves. “I basically just found out exactly what happened a short time ago. At this point I really don’t know any of the details. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what’s going on, what the process is.
“I will say that my personal relationship with Ben Cherington was very special. He was a great leader, a great man and we’re sorry to see him moving in a different direction.”
|David Ortiz: Ben Cherington did ‘remarkable job,’ but understands why shakeup was needed||08.18.15 at 11:47 pm ET|
With the Red Sox headed towards their second last place finish in the AL East in as many years and third in the last four, it’s not surprising a shakeup took place with the team hiring long-time executive Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations Tuesday night.
Current general manager Ben Cherington will not return after the transition process.
“Like I said, you see this happening in baseball over and over and over,” Ortiz said following Tuesday’s game. “When organizations struggle or whatever they just shake it up. I’m not saying that this is the best way to go and do things because like I said even in a couple of years, the way we had been, Ben won a World Series as a GM. So you don’t forget about that that quick.”
Playing for an organization like the Red Sox, winning is what is most important, so although the move was surprising, it isn’t all that surprising at the same time.
“Like I said, it’s always moves in an organization like this one,” Ortiz said. “We weren’t expecting it to happen, but it happened. Now we have to move on and continue trying to be an organization, team that can compete next year and I guess that’s what they’re looking for.”
A few of the players who spoke in the clubhouse following the game said it wasn’t Cherington’s fault for the poor performances in recent years and ultimately it came down to them as players on the field.
Ortiz was posed the same question and after a bit of hesitation said the same thing.
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