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Pete Alonso defeats Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in 2019 Home Run Derby

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In a battle of rookies in the final round of the 2019 Home Run Derby at Progressive Field, Mets first baseman Pete Alonso defeated Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Alonso swatted 23 home runs to Guerrero’s 22. Given what Guerrero did in the two rounds prior, it has a Josh Hamilton-Justin Morneau feel. Like Guerrero, Hamilton set what was then the single-round record with 28 home runs, but lost in the finals to Justin Morneau. Hamilton out-homered Morneau overall 35 to 22. Guerrero out-homered Alonso 91 to 57.

Alonso didn’t appear to be on his way to a victory. He struggled in the first round, only escaping by the skin of his teeth with a 14-13 victory over hometown hero Carlos Santana. He had a last-second victory over Ronald Acuña Jr. in the second round as well, winning 20-19. His pitcher, his cousin Derek Morgan, also appeared to need some time to warm up.

The 2019 Home Run Derby was quite enjoyable, even beyond the all-rookie finals and Guerrero’s back-and-forth battle with Pederson. Ronald Acuña Jr. hit 25 home runs, ousting Josh Bell who hit “only” 18 dingers in the first round. Alonso narrowly escaped with the win in each of the first two rounds, beating hometown hero Carlos Santana 14-13 then sending Acuña to the showers 20-19 in the second round. There were many tape-measure home runs and there was much drama.

For winning the Derby, Alonso earned a $1 million prize. Guerrero got $500,000 while the other six contestants took home $150,000. As both are rookies earning the major league minimum, Alonso nearly doubled his 2019 salary by winning the Home Run Derby while Guerrero nearly matched his salary.

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.