That the Pirates remain in contention in the NL Central is both a comment on the division’s weakness and also a tribute to the team’s core. It has little, unfortunately for Cherington, to do with the personnel changes he’s made.
Here’s the first-half report card on the Pirates front office. Note that grades for players departing the organization are based on the reverse of those players’ WAAs with their new teams.
Mode WAA Grade
Acquired -1.3 D
Traded -0.1 C
Signed -1.1 D
FA Lost -0.4 C
Rookies -1.8 D
Overall -3.7 F
The problem with Cherington’s first-half report card is the utter absence of any area of strength to it. By none of the five means through which a general manager can help his team has Cherington actually done so.
In no case are the negatives substantial. But they add up to an unacceptable drain of talent, especially for a team that’s supposed to be on the rise as the Pirates are supposed to be.
And make no mistake, this team should be on the rise. Cherington has amassed what appears a mass of young talent in Ke’Bryan Hayes, Oneil Cruz, Henry Davis, Jack Suwinski, Mitch Keller and David Bednar. The return of Andrew McCutchen and the extension given to Bryan Reynolds should be upgrades.
That it hasn’t really worked out to date is partly the fault of the players themselves, but Cherington has not yet found the inspirational move that can spur a team from on top of the organizational chart. Perhaps the Davis promotion will be that. If it is, Cherington’s end-of-season grade may improve.