MacMullan details Cherington's journey

November, 4, 2011

ESPN Boston columnist Jackie MacMullan talked extensively to new general manager Ben Cherington, his family, friends and colleagues about his life's journey and what makes him cut out to be a GM. In this interesting excerpt from her column, Cherington reveals just how much he pushed for the signing of Carl Crawford:

The collapse of the 2011 Red Sox begs the question whether his current roster exhibited that required passion. Tales of cold brews and finger-lickin' chicken have shredded their credibility with the paying public.

"I don't believe I'm being stubborn about it, but I still believe we have a core of players who care about the game," Cherington said. "It's something we have to look at, but I really don't believe the end of the season is who we truly are."

That includes Carl Crawford, the gifted but underachieving outfielder. Cherington conceded at his introductory news conference that he not only approved of that lucrative free-agent signing, he advocated for it.

"During the last offseason we felt as an organization -- not just baseball ops -- that given what had happened the previous two years, and given that we had a little gap in the farm system at the very top, and what the threat of another disappointing season would have on the success of the business, we felt we needed to strike big," Cherington explained.

Adrian Gonzalez was the primary target, yet each time Crawford's name came up, Cherington lingered over his scouting report.

"We felt Crawford was a little underappreciated because he was helping teams win games in a slightly different way than highly paid players," Cherington said. "He wasn't hitting 40 home runs, but he was playing incredible defense, stealing bases and hitting 20 homers with a lot of doubles. We felt he was a top-five player in the league even though he didn't have Miguel Cabrera numbers.

"We thought he'd have a big impact on the game. He was a hard worker, well-liked in the clubhouse, and relatively young for a free agent.

"From a scouting perspective, he was an incredible athlete who got to the big leagues and was still learning how to play. We felt he was on an upward arc in terms of skill development -- or so we thought."

With Gonzalez already acquired and the winter meetings approaching, Cherington said Boston considered Carlos Beltran but Crawford approached the Red Sox, declaring, "This is where I want to be."

And that is when Cherington made his case.

"I told them, 'If we're going to do this, this is the winter to do it, and I believe this the guy we should do it with,'" Cherington revealed. "Theo bought into it, but I'm the one that pushed it.

"Then we had a conversation with ownership, and I had to push them too.

"I've learned a lot. One part of the puzzle is doing all the scouting, the background, the info gathering, the negotiating. But it can't stop there.

"You've got to keep going. It's a huge adjustment for these guys. We need to do a better job of getting to know Carl well enough to make him feel comfortable, because we've seen how good he is when he's comfortable.

"It's also on him to figure out ways he can make himself better acclimated next year."



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