The Sporting News named their 2013 MLB Executive of the Year tonight, giving the award to Boston Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington. Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington finished second in the vote, losing 15 to 9. Dayton Moore finished in third with four votes, which means there are four people who have never heard of Wil Myers. Frank Wren finished fourth with three votes.
The “worst to first” narrative is largely why Cherington won. The Sporting News lists his accomplishments as:
**Salary dumping Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, and Carl Crawford
**Firing Bobby Valentine and hiring John Farrell
**”Opted against making a big splash” last off-season, instead signing Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew, Shane Victorino, and Koji Uehara
A lot of these are dubious claims. The salary dumps don’t really factor into this year’s performance. The firing of Valentine and hiring of Farrell was a good switch, but I think anyone would have been better than Valentine and the “chicken and beer” clubhouse. As for the lack of a big splash, they did spend a lot of money. Victorino got $13 M per year. Drew got $9.5 M on a one year deal. Napoli only had $5 M guaranteed, but received $8 M for being healthy all year. There was also Ryan Dempster, who signed for $13 M per year. Cherington didn’t sign Zack Greinke or Josh Hamilton, but he definitely spent money that not a lot of teams could afford to spend. They were good moves, but when you’re paying eight figures to pretty much every free agent, you should expect the type of performance they received.
I’ll have thoughts on why Huntington deserved the award in tonight’s First Pitch.