Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Pederson, Guerrero, Acuña, Alonso advance to second round of Home Run Derby

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The second round of the 2019 Home Run Derby has been set at Progressive Field. Joc Pederson defeated Alex Bregman 21-16, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. defeated Matt Chapman 29-13, Ronald Acuña Jr. defeated Josh Bell 25-18, and Pete Alonso edged Carlos Santana 14-13. Guerrero will now face off against Pederson while Acuña will match up with Alonso in the second round.

Pederson kicked things off, mashing 21 taters ahead of Bregman. No one hit 20 homers in the first round of last year’s Derby, so it looked like it might stand as the largest first-round total. Pederson’s longest homer went 452 while averaging 413 overall. Bregman, participating in back-to-back Derbies, managed only 16, one more than last year. His longest homer went 417 feet and averaged only 388 feet.

Guerrero had the most impressive showing, blasting a new Home Run Derby single round record 29 homers. He maxed out at 476 feet while averaging 421.5 feet on his homers. Chapman’s 13 homers only looked small by comparison as it’s normally a respectable total. Chapman hit one 477 feet and averaged 432 feet.

Acuña was no slouch himself, knocking out 25 long balls ahead of Bell, claiming sole possession of the third-most homers hit in a single round. His longest homer went 469 feet while averaging 428 feet. Bell got off to a slow start and never really got on a roll, but still managed 18 which also only seemed small by comparison. Bell’s longest homer went 459 feet while averaging 416 feet.

Alonso edged Santana in what was by far the most disappointing of the four match-ups in the first round. Santana, the hometown hero, couldn’t get any momentum, finishing with 13. It looked like a cakewalk for Alonso, but he could also not find a streak. His final swing of the first round went over the fence. As a result of having hit at least two homers 440-plus feet, he unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time, so he would’ve beaten Santana anyway, but he didn’t need to.

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.