After being the architect of a team which went from worst to first in the American League East and scored an eventual World Series victory over the Cardinals, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has been voted as the Sporting News Executive of the Year.
The award was voted on by a panel of 31 MLB executives prior to the postseason. Cherington was presented with the award tonight at the GM Meetings in Orlando, Florida.
“I’ve always felt this award is about the organization, not the GM,” Cherington told Sporting News. “I understand the GM is receiving it, and I’m happy to receive it, but I’m proud of the organization. This is for everyone who works for us and went through a tough time in 2012, and committed to making things better, getting things right. I’m not sure it was necessarily a World Series outcome we had in mind, but we were fortunate that the people in our clubhouse accomplished great things. It was fun to be a part of.”
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington finished second and had a very strong case for the award, but MLB executives were understandably impressed by Boston’s rapid turnaround. The makeover really began last August when Cherington unloaded the contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers, which gave him the flexibility to sign Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Dempster, and David Ross over the winter. The signings all paid dividends while players who were injured or underperformed in 2012 bounced back. He also acquired Jake Peavy in a midseason deal to fortify the rotation. While Cherington was recognized by his peers for his success this evening, Red Sox manager John Farrell is the odds-on favorite to be named the American League Manager of the Year by the BBWAA tomorrow night.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.
Orioles’ center fielder Michael Bourn is expected to be sidelined for four weeks while he rehabs a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck. Bourn broke the finger while playing catch with a football after a spring training workout.
The veteran outfielder re-signed with the club earlier this week on a minor league deal and was prepared to compete for a bench role this season. He’s in line to receive a $2 million salary if he makes the major league roster and can make an additional $3.5 million in incentives based on a set number of plate appearances. Now, however, his chances of cracking the roster out of spring training look considerably diminished, as his current timetable gives him an approximate return date of March 25 if all goes well.
Bourn had an impressive, if short-lived run with the Orioles following his trade to Baltimore last August, batting .283/.358/.435 with two home runs and a .793 OPS in 55 PA. While still somewhat removed from the totals that brought him an All-Star nod with the Braves in 2012, his defensive chops should give the Orioles some depth in center once he’s healthy again.