Connect with us


Perrotto: Ben Cherington’s Offseason Plan Successful — in Some Ways (+)



It always seemed that Ben Cherington’s offseason plan would send the Pittsburgh Pirates heading in one of two directions come late July.

Either the veterans the general manager signed over the winter would help put the Pirates in the middle of an improbable pennant race or be dealt for prospects before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

Like so many other times before at the two-thirds point of the season, the Pirates were sellers rather than contenders. They shipped first baseman Carlos Santana to the Milwaukee Brewers, left-hander Rich Hill and first baseman Ji-Man Choi to the San Diego Padres and catcher Austin Hedges to the Texas Rangers.

“We certainly considered a more passive approach and keeping everybody,” Cherington said. “We weighed that versus the opportunity to get some young talent or access to young talent that we didn’t have a week ago, combined with opening up opportunity for some guys who have a chance to be here for a longer period of time.”

However, that is not to say that the veterans did not serve their purpose during their four months with the Pirates. The organization valued the foursome as much for their mentoring of young players as their play on the field.

Santana was a clubhouse magnet for the Pirates’ sizeable contingent of young Latin American players. They consistently hung out at his locker soaking up the advice of a 14-year veteran.

The 43-year-old Hill is the oldest player in the major leagues, but he easily related to the Pirates’ younger pitchers and freely shared his wisdom. Though Hedges was the player the fans wound up loving to hate, he spent countless hours talking strategy with the young pitchers and helping tutor rookies Henry Davis and Endy Rodriguez on the intricacies of catching.

“We acquired all of them this past offseason with the intent to get better,” Cherington said. “I shared with all of them my appreciation for them because I do believe we brought them here to help us get better, and I believe we got better, in part because of their contributions on the field and off the field. They did exactly what we hoped all four of them would do. We’ll be rooting for them.”

It would be impossible not to root for any of the four. Santana and Hill personify professionalism while Hedges brings plenty of enthusiasm and the jovial Choi puts a smile on everyone’s face.

Cherington particularly singled out Hedges when talking with reporters earlier this week, defending the maligned catcher who hit just .179/.236/.228 with one home run in 65 games but had nine defensive runs saved.

“He did exactly what he hoped he would do,” Cherington said. “Obviously, he would tell you that, of course, everyone wants to get more hits and I’m sure he was frustrated by that at times. We signed him because we thought he would make an impact on our team, on our pitching staff. He did a great job behind the dish defensively.

“At times, I know I guess the questions or frustrations or whatever out there about Austin. I’ve always felt like if anybody in Pittsburgh who cares about the team knew Austin, you can’t possibly not root for him. He is sort of, for a Southern California kid, he’s very Pittsburgh. I understand where the questions are coming from, but he did exactly what he hoped he would do.”

It would be a lot better for the organization and fans for the Pirates to reach a point where they are adding veterans than subtracting. And not a broken-down pitcher like Chris Archer who was acquired the last time the Pirates were in go-for-it mode back in 2018.

“For sure,” Cherington said of being a buyer. “It’s a lot more fun.”

So I’ve been told.


Subscribe Today!

Subscribe today!

PBN in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get all of our posts sent directly to your inbox.

Copyright © 2024 National Hockey Now. All rights reserved. In no way endorsed by the Pittsburgh Pirates or Major League Baseball.

Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (PA/IL) or 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN only) or 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA only) or 1-800-522-4700 (CO Only) or TN REDLINE: 800-889-9789.