The Red Sox are bringing back Alex Cora to manage for the 2021 season.
How does this make you feel?
The Sox made it official Friday, anointing Cora as the 49th manager in team history.
As a Red Sox fan, does this make you happy or disappointed?
It’s been almost six weeks since the Sox fired Ron Roenicke after an uninspired, underperforming team finished in last place in the 60-game pandemic summer of 2020. In this span, Boston baseball boss Chaim Bloom has interviewed at least nine candidates, including Cora. None of the others were former big league managers. None of them were Alex Cora.
The return of Cora brings two sets of reactions.
The pro-Cora crowd likes this move because it makes the Red Sox relevant again. It brings some star power to a team suddenly lacking household names. It reminds you of the good days when the Sox won 119 games and a world championship back in 2018. We know that Alex Cora tends to get the most out of a player such as Rafael Devers, who slumped when Cora was gone in 2020. We know that Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts, Christian Vazquez, Eduardo Rodriguez, and J.D. Martinez all swear by Cora.
Cora knows how to handle the dreaded Boston Baseball Experience. He was a player here under Terry Francona. He understands the daily pressures of the Boston job. He remembers what it was like when the Red Sox really mattered in Boston. He deals well with a complex ownership group, a crowded front office, a clubhouse of diverse personalities, and a bloodthirsty media always looking for answers.
Cora is a known commodity and a proven winner. I have been in favor of his return since Roenicke, a good guy and team player, was let go. And I have been surprised at the amount of pushback from a portion of Red Sox fans who want no part of Cora’s return to Boston. Many fans are bothered by Cora’s cheating with the Astros and do not want to have him back in the Fenway dugout.
This is real, the Red Sox know it is real, and it probably explains why Bloom spent so much time interviewing analytics experts and multiple folks with little dugout experience.
Go back and look at the Red Sox ownership statement when the team “parted ways” with Cora in mid-January. The statement read, in part, “We collectively decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward … ”
That was 60 games ago. Ten months ago. So what changed?
To his credit, Cora has made no attempt to make excuses or deny his transgressions. He wears a scarlet letter and he knows this is going to be awkward.
“I am sorry for the harm my past actions have caused and will work hard to make this organization and its fans proud,” Cora said in a statement released by the Red Sox Friday.
And Red Sox upper management is pleased to have Cora back.
“We are excited to have Alex’s leadership and energy back in the Red Sox dugout,” president and CEO Sam Kennedy said in the statement. “He owns, and has learned from, his past mistakes, and with his incredible talent, he will build on the deep bonds he’s fostered over time to make us better in the years to come.”
The Cora-Bloom dynamic is also going to be awkward. Cora was already the Red Sox manager when Bloom was hired during the 2019 World Series. This was Bloom’s first chance to hire his own guy to manage the Red Sox. Given Bloom’s background and his connections throughout baseball, it is difficult to believe that he would have arrived at a decision to bring back Cora, especially after interviewing so many other candidates.
Why did it take so long to circle back to what appeared to be obvious at the start? Was this ownership’s call or Bloom’s call?
I expect they will say it was "collaborative.'' But that’s going to be a tough sell.
Here’s hoping they play it straight. The Red Sox should just come out and tell everyone, "We believe in second chances. Alex Cora is our guy. He was our guy all along.''
Just say it, live with it, and move forward.