Ben Cherington, who recently stepped down as GM of the Red Sox, spoke at Saberseminar in Boston on Saturday (joking that the forum was “a progressive event that even invites the unemployed“) and was unusually candid about his work with the Sox and about being an executive for a big-league team. Here’s a bit of what he had to say, via Alex Speier of the Boston Globe and Tim Britton of the Providence Journal (Twitter links: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9).
- Cherington says he misjudged how Hanley Ramirez would transition from the infield to the outfield. “We didn’t know what he would be defensively,” Cherington says. “We made a bet based on the history of what players look like going from middle infield to outfield. … It hasn’t gone well.” Ramirez has rated as well below average in left field, and his defensive struggles this season have coincided with a decline on offense, arguably making Ramirez one of MLB’s worst position players while still in the first year of his contract.
- Cherington adds that the Red Sox contacted Billy Beane and the Athletics about trading Josh Donaldson last offseason, only to be told the A’s weren’t interested in dealing Donaldson. They did, of course, ultimately trade him to Toronto, and Cherington says he credits the Blue Jays for their persistence.
- Instead, the Red Sox signed Pablo Sandoval to play third, a move that hasn’t worked out thus far. Cherington says he didn’t necessarily expect the run-scoring environment at Fenway Park to be a boon for Sandoval, but instead was mostly focused on filling what had been a “black hole” at third. Sandoval has hit fairly well at home this season, batting .304/.347/.451. But he’s batted just .216/.271/.337 on the road.
- Some of Cherington’s mistakes as GM came as a result of rushing decisions, he says.
- One of the most crucial aspects of being a GM is interacting with team ownership, Cherington says, noting that it’s a sensible and necessary part of the job.
- Cherington seems happy with the state in which he left the Red Sox’ farm system, saying that there are prospects who can turn out to be special players and also areas of organizational depth.
- One decision Cherington says he won’t rush is determining the next step in his career. Instead, he’ll take his time in making that decision.