Sunday, October 16, 2011

Big Ben to the rescue

WHAT A MESS. Red Sox owner John Henry came out swinging yesterday, taking the airwaves at 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston and speaking to the media outside the Brighton studios. 

The usually quiet and private owner, in response to getting "hit below the belt," said the media has created a frenzy over the Red Sox' collapse. That tends to happen when a team with Boston's payroll and tradition suffers the worst September collapse in baseball history. 

Now it's up to New Hampshire native Ben Cherington to rescue a scrambling front office. Cherington, hired as a scout by Dan Duquette in 1999, is the only choice to succeed Epstein.

“He's been in the organization for a long time. He knows the people, and he's learned a number of different jobs to learn the business from the ground floor up,” said Red Sox GM Dan Duquette, who hired Cherington in 1999.

Duquette spoke with me at length yesterday, talking about Cherington's rise to the top and what qualities distinguish him from other top baseball execs. 

“Ben really has a passion for baseball and works well with other people and because he has a steady, even-keel personality, I think he's a big asset in this market. Most importantly, what probably distinguishes himself is he knows talent," Duquette said. 
“He has a real good instinct for players. I also think one of his best qualities is that he's a good listener. Executives that can listen are rare.”

Cherington, climbing the ladder to farm director and assistant GM, helped build Boston's farm system that produced all-stars Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon and Dustin Pedroia.

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