With a .216 batting average and 31 strikeouts in 18 games it may be a while before Cubs rookie Javier Baez figures out how to control the strike zone, but the 21-year-old middle infielder has definitely already figured out how to hit the ball really, really far off major-league pitchers.
His latest, a solo shot off Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman:
That gives Baez six homers, which is the second-most in Cubs history through 18 career games behind a guy named Mandy Brooks who went deep eight times through 18 games in 1925. Brooks finished his career with 15 total home runs.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.
Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.
Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.
The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.