Christian Bethancourt was supposed to be the future behind the plate for the Atlanta Braves. But at present he kinda stinks. As such, the Braves just optioned him to Triple-A.
The at-one-time highly thought-of catcher hasn’t hit at all, posting a line of .208/.231/.297. Which would even be difficult to carry if he was a modern day Johnny Bench, defensively speaking. Which he has decidedly not been. Yesterday he allowed a run to score on a passed ball. His fifth passed ball in 27 games this year. He had six in 31 games last year. Former Braves catcher Evan Gattis had five passed balls in 93 games last season, and he’s considered to be a disaster defensively. A.J. Pierzynski, meanwhile, has two in 36 games.
Add in the fact that there is no suggestion that Bethancourt is good at handling pitchers or framing — he often looks crossed-up — and all you’re left with at the moment is a guy with a great arm behind the dish — he does throw out baserunners at a better-than-average pace — and a lot of unfulfilled promise. He needs some seasoning and he needs it on a stage smaller than the big leagues.
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.