Major League Baseball just announced the 2017 nominees for the Hank Aaron Award.
The award is intended to honor the best offensive performers in each league. Except, in participation trophy-fashion, every team gets a nominee and, for inexplicable reasons, fans get to vote on winners via the Internet and via tweeting the names of their favorite players with special hashtags. Viva Merit-Based Awards. Viva including a guy from each team so as to engage as many people as possible based on team allegience. It’s almost as if this is about web traffic and stuff. Crazy, I know!
Kris Bryant won the award last year. He’s not nominated for the Cubs this year. Anthony Rizzo is. This despite the fact that Bryant had a better year than Rizzo by every measure except for RBI and was eighth in offensive WAR in all of baseball. Hank Aaron was one of the greatest of all time, but he deserves an award with a less ridiculous selection process.
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.