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Friday, October 23, 2020

Just Say No

With the World Series in full swing the Boston Red Sox (who will not win their fifth title despite losing the fewest games in a single season in franchise history) are searching for a new manager.  Reports from all manners of places have had them interviewing Pirates coach Don Kelly, Diamondbacks bench coach Luis Urueta (oh to hear Remy pronounce that), possibly Dodger coach George Lombard, Cub coach Will Venable and possibly others.  Of course, all of these interviews come while the elephant in the room waits for the end of the World Series.

Alex Cora.

The former manager remains a popular figure among Red Sox fans and seemingly the players. For an organization that is well over a year beyond any meaningful good publicity re-hiring Cora would be a coup.  A fanbase deep in the throes of apathy (at best) would be reclaimed and the link back to the magical season of 2018 would be immediately forged.  Having said all of that I am here to tell you that in my opinion, the right thing for the Red Sox is to say “thanks but no thanks” to Alex Cora for a variety of reasons.

First and foremost is why would the Sox want to do this to themselves?  How long would the questions about Cora’s ethics be on the front burner.  At the very least it would be a question asked in the first game against every team they played.  Regardless of where you stand on the issue of what Cora was involved in it is going to be a non-stop distraction.  It would also create an avenue to questions about players who were here in 2018 and those who feel that the investigation and subsequent punishment of the club were inadequate for real or perceived events.

Second is the fundamental question of whether or not Alex Cora is actually a good manager.  Cora absolutely, without question deserves major credit for guiding the greatest team in club history.  He also deserves major criticism for guiding fundamentally the same team to a major disappointment the following year.  While the issues of 2019 can be laid on injuries Cora’s laid back approach to spring training and a desire for a less rigorous build up to the season can’t be ignored in the bad start.  If pressed I’d say Cora is probably a good manager but let’s not overpraise him; he’s managed two full seasons, one tremendously successful, one tremendously disappointing.

My third problem with bringing back Cora relates to the first.  For a team that is going to be integrating young players (Verdugo, Dalbec, Downs, Mata, etc…) is a guy with Alex Cora’s track record the guy you want guiding them?  If the Sox were more likely to be contending next year than I currently expect then maybe you say “hey, let’s win and everything else be damned.”  But from the standpoint of developing young players I think it is reasonable to ask if a guy coming off a one year suspension for breaking league rules is really the mentor you want.  Now having said that I should note that it is possible the answer to that question is a resounding yes.  It is quite possible that Cora, having gone through all of this, has learned a lesson and can be a voice in the way a recovering alcoholic sponsors a fellow alcoholic in AA.

All of this is not to say it would be a catastrophic error to hire Cora.  Like I said, I think he’s probably a good manager but I’m not 100% convinced.  It is likely that if it is not Cora it will be someone else without any track record in that seat so the Sox aren’t getting any kind of certainty.  There is something about going with what you know but I think hiring Cora is just a way to open old questions and concerns* and create a lot more drama than a team looking to build is going to benefit from.

* And here is where I note that I had a similar concern about another Boston sports coach being hired.  “Why do they want another link to Parcells? Belichick sucked in Cleveland and he’ll suck in New England” said someone who looks a lot like me.

Jose Has Absurd Goosebump Arms Posted: October 23, 2020 at 12:59 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Roger Cedeno's Spleen Posted: October 23, 2020 at 05:35 PM (#5984797)
Alex Cora 2017: "I wish I could win a World Series."
*finger on monkey's paw curls*
Alex Cora 2018: "That was fun. I wish I could win another World Series."
*second finger on monkey's paw curls*
Alex Cora 2020: "I wish..."
*sound of unspeakable thing clawing at door*
   2. Darren Posted: October 24, 2020 at 06:24 PM (#5984916)
I feel about the same as you, Jose.
   3. villageidiom Posted: October 26, 2020 at 08:50 AM (#5985424)
They can win without Cora. There's no reason to try to win with him, and many reasons to try to win without him.
   4. Jose Has Absurd Goosebump Arms Posted: November 06, 2020 at 08:29 AM (#5987514)
It seems to be down to Cora and Fuld. It seems like Bloom wants Fuld and ownership wants Cora. Having laid out the case against Cora above I think I'd prefer him to Fuld in a vacuum. However, I like the idea of letting the GM (or whatever ####### title he has, I hate title creep) make that call and Fuld is a guy who seems like he could be very good. The last time ownership made the call over the GM it did not go well.

Having said that, of course Cora isn't Voldemort. Off the cuff if the choice is down to those two I feel pretty good whichever way the Sox go.
   5. Jose Has Absurd Goosebump Arms Posted: November 06, 2020 at 09:39 AM (#5987522)
And it's Alex Cora.
   6. jmurph Posted: November 06, 2020 at 09:52 AM (#5987523)
I just don't really have any strong feelings about this? He's done well, the players seem to like him, I'm fine with it.
   7. Jay Seaver Posted: November 06, 2020 at 10:23 AM (#5987529)
I'm a bit worried by the indications that this was ownership's decision rather than Bloom's - someone pointed out that Bloom went to PR to interview Cora while the other candidates came to Boston - but as it's seemed more and more inevitable, I've basically come back to how none of the things I liked about Cora have changed. He's still going to be exceptionally good about pulling in a ton of information and getting it to the players when it's most useful, he's still likely going to have great relationships with the players (and if you put much stock in what Jerry & Eck say during the broadcasts, that's a big deal for Devers in particular), he's hopefully still going to be accountable and willing to discuss his decision-making process.

How much will The Other Stuff affect his ability to do his job? I've got no idea. I don't know if resentful players might avoid Boston more in free agency because of this, or if the media will become more hostile and he'll pull back as a result. But it's not an awful decision, I don't think
   8. Darren Posted: November 07, 2020 at 07:24 PM (#5987774)
They must really like him.
   9. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: November 07, 2020 at 07:34 PM (#5987778)
I don't like it. It's bad PR and they really don't need bad PR right now. And I don't think Cora is good enough of a manager to justify it.
   10. Jose Has Absurd Goosebump Arms Posted: November 07, 2020 at 10:26 PM (#5987792)
Is that true Biff? My sense is that this is REALLY popular among most Sox fans.
   11. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: November 08, 2020 at 09:28 AM (#5987823)
Maybe I'm too online. It might be different in the 'real world' but my impression in online communities is that the move isn't loved.
   12. Captain Joe Bivens, Elderly Northeastern Jew Posted: November 08, 2020 at 10:28 AM (#5987828)
My sense is that this is REALLY popular among most Sox fans.

It will remain popular only as long as the team wins.
   13. Jay Seaver Posted: November 08, 2020 at 02:21 PM (#5987844)
Maybe I'm too online. It might be different in the 'real world' but my impression in online communities is that the move isn't loved.

It's kind of tough to tell how this is playing out among the more casual fans, what with not going most of the places I'd usually talk baseball with people. I suspect online is going to be super-skewed, though - it brings out both extremes and the folks who look at baseball as a whole rather than the hometown team, we're all salty from the especially-disastrous 2020 season(*), and the good zinger gets retweeted more than the relatively bland "I am happy about this". I suspect that for a lot of Red Sox fans, what happened with the Astros seems kind of distant, especially since the similar stuff with the Red Sox seemed much more about a thing everybody does but probably shouldn't (going to the replay room) that's hard to enforce.

(*) As someone who at times got very frustrated with Roenicke when the team underperformed even the low expectations - season previews were "they'll play a lot of 8-7 games and maybe wind up on the good end of some" rather than "they will be down 7 in the third every night and the rest of the game will drag on miserably until midnight" - and watched a lot of NESN where Dan/Jerry/Eck often commented about how Cora could have kept Devers from spiraling during a bad defensive run, I wouldn't be shocked if there were others out there who figured Cora was a bigger missing piece than he actually was. We weren't fed that, exactly, but there was enough out there that I could easily see the idea taking root.
   14. Darren Posted: November 08, 2020 at 06:30 PM (#5987861)
Biff. Good ol' Biff. How are you?
   15. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: November 08, 2020 at 08:03 PM (#5987865)
Generally fine personally. More broadly, without delving too much into politics on this kind of forum...cautiously more optimistic than the previous 4 years.
   16. Darren Posted: November 10, 2020 at 02:06 PM (#5988129)
Glad to hear that, Biff. You are highly regarded. Big fan.

Hey everyone, at least the Red Sox didn't hire LaRussa.

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