Here was the question posed to Red Sox president Sam Kennedy on Tuesday: Does he consider Alex Cora a candidate to return as manager?
Kennedy could have said something diplomatic along the lines of, “We will always treasure what Alex accomplished as manager, but our decision in January was made for a reason and we’re moving ahead.”
That would have settled the issue.
Instead he replied, “We’re just not going to talk about managerial candidates for our job at this point.”
That should tell you something. It tells me the Sox will indeed consider Cora. If that’s the case, how do they not bring him back?
There are no standard prerequisites for a manager. What the Red Sox need in a manager is unique to their team at this time and Cora meets all those requirements.
He can develop young players. He knows the market. He embraces an analytical approach to roster building and in-game strategy. Cora also has the ability to clearly communicate with the players, public, and media.
Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom wants to build a group of young, versatile, cost-controlled players who can compete for the postseason year after year instead of a team that careens from championships to collapse as the Sox have done.
It’s what the Dodgers have accomplished, albeit without having yet won a championship, and the Rays are building toward.
That approach, constantly turning the roster over to seek advantages, requires a manager to be nimble and innovative, and Cora has those qualities.
Most importantly his re-hiring would be a sign the organization is committed to winning. The Sox have made a series of unpopular decisions since January, chasing fans away each time. Bringing Cora back changes that story.
Bloom has indicated several times, most recently on Sunday, that the Sox had legitimate grounds for letting Cora go in January. At that time, he was labeled as the ringleader of a cheating scheme the Houston Astros used in 2017 en route to the World Series.
The Sox bowed to intense pressure and parted ways with Cora. Kennedy, team chairman Tom Werner, and principal owner John Henry made it clear at the time how much they regretted having to make the move.
In the months since, Cora was cleared of any wrongdoing with the 2018 Red Sox and several Astros players have acknowledged they worked as a group to steal signs. It also came to light that front-office staffers were actively involved, too.
The Astros had a well-chronicled history of dishonorable behavior over a period of years under former general manager Jeff Luhnow. Cora was certainly wrong to join in when he arrived, but the notion he led an honest group astray has been disproved.
Not every team was illegally stealing signs, so it’s a valid opinion if you object to the idea of Cora returning on moral grounds. But he was punished, served his time, and will be eligible to return to baseball in any capacity a day after the World Series. That would be sometime between Oct. 25-29.
How can the Sox pass on the opportunity to hire a manager they know can do the job? With any other candidate, it’s an educated guess.
Kennedy attempted to take ownership out of the equation by saying Bloom would pick the next manager.
“When it comes to the managerial selection for the Boston Red Sox, that rests squarely with our baseball operation and ultimately with Chaim Bloom,” he said.
A few minutes later, Kennedy acknowledged ownership would be involved and obviously they have to be. Owning a team like the Red Sox is not a task for absentee landlords.
This could come down to a tug-of-war, Bloom seeking his own guy with ownership eager to have Cora back. Or maybe Bloom is just taking his time until the suspension is officially lifted.
For now, there are three comments made in January that are worth remembering.
Henry: “He was a tremendous manager for us, on all levels.”
Werner: “Alex fit our organization perfectly. He was respected by everyone.”
Kennedy: “I think he’ll go through a process of rehabilitation and we’ll see what happens. He is an extreme talent.”
So what has changed?