Bryce Harper: “I have to step up a little bit.”

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Bryce Harper didn’t exactly put up bad numbers last season, but they weren’t indicative of his talent. He also missed 57 games on the disabled list after tearing the UCL in his left hand while sliding into third base. He finished with a .273/.344/.423 slash line with 13 home runs and 32 RBI in 395 plate appearances.

Harper thinks he has to do more to contribute to the Nationals’ offense in 2015. Via MLB.com’s Bill Ladson:

“I’ll help out for sure,” Harper said. “After losing LaRoche, I have to step up a little bit. I have to do what I need to do. Our pitching is going to take us to the top, hopefully, but we still have to have offense. We have to do the things we need to do. I’m ready to go. I’ll be feeling good.”

The Nationals’ calling card is certainly their pitching, but their offense is nothing to sneeze at, either. Last season, infielder Danny Espinosa and catcher Wilson Ramos were the only two of nine players to take at least 240 trips to the plate and post a below-average adjusted OPS (OPS+; below 100). Harper’s OPS+ was 111, bested by Denard Span, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth, and Anthony Rendon.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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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.