What's the famous saying? "You don't know what you got, 'till it's gone?" Yea, I think that's it and honestly, it's a perfect way to describe my feelings about Alex Cora. In his first stint with the Red Sox, I liked Cora but felt he was a bit overhyped. Then, after a year without him and with Ron Roenicke at the helm, I realized what a train-wreck things were without him manning the dugout.
Now, just over a week after his year-long suspension ending, Cora is back for his second term as manager of the Boston Red Sox. My overall feelings are excitement and relief. I'm excited to see the Red Sox move in the right direction with something for the first time in a long time and I'm relieved that they didn't tease us with the Cora comeback and actually got it done.
During the past week or so, we watched all of the other manager gigs fill up and even saw AJ Hinch, the other manager suspended for the Houston Astros cheating scandal, hired to lead the Detroit Tigers. At a certain point, it felt too obvious and glaring that Cora would return to Boston. There were no other openings, the first "cheater" had been forgiven, Cora by all accounts wanted to manage in 2021 and Boston needed some sort of good juju to kick the offseason off. It made too much sense. So why did it take so long?
It was said that the Sox interviewed about seven candidates to take the job and that when it was whittled down to two, it was Cora and his fellow former big leaguer, Sam Fuld. Fuld played for eight seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics and Minnesota Twins before retiring in 2017. While he's a local guy from New Hampshire with a Stanford education, Boston could never have realistically sold him to the fans. If they hired Fuld, with no managing experience, it would be seen as a move to push analytics and basically have an extension of the front office and Chaim Bloom writing out the lineup card. I was honestly pretty worried that the Sox would continue to be tone-deaf, and they'd do this.
Instead, I'm pleasantly surprised to see Cora back where he belongs. When he was fired, it felt like the right move but in hindsight, the Sox jumped the gun a bit. More and more evidence about what happened in Houston came out and Cora kept coming out cleaner and cleaner. Now, the former World Series winning manager can get back to work. What we saw this past season is that the team needs him. For better or for worse, guys on this team don't respond the same to someone not named Alex Cora. Rafael Devers got fat and lazy. JD shut it down. Even Xander Bogaerts seemed off. They need a guy they respect and who will get the best out of them. That's AC.
Moving forward, the Sox need to keep making the right moves. Cora is just the beginning. Though they can't bring Mookie back, they need to start trying to repair the damage there. Spend some money and get some pitching. Boston needs the Red Sox. Hopefully we are headed down the path to being competitive again.