The Boston Red Sox are in the middle of a storm right now and how they handle the next few weeks could play a big role in the 2021 offseason.
The baseball world was rocked yesterday when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred released his report about the allegations surrounding the 2017 Houston Astros. Though the punishments were only handed down to Houston, former Astros bench coach and current Red Sox manager Alex Cora was named more than anyone else in the report.
With the stink of 2017 now on his name and the impending punishment from 2018’s replay room infraction also looming over his head, things are about to get ugly. Based on the punishment given to AJ Hinch and the fact that Cora is linked to two separate cheating debacles. he’ll likely be led to the career guillotine. Hinch received a one-year unpaid suspension for what happened with the Astros.
Considering Cora was described as the evil mastermind behind not just that event but what happened with the Red Sox in 2018, I can’t imagine his sentence will be less. Then you have to factor in the reaction by Houston’s owner Jim Crane as he would fire Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow shortly after Manfred released his report. So, where does that leave Boston as we’re just months away from Spring Training?
The heavy sentiment I’ve seen is that many members of Red Sox Nation are calling for Cora to lose his job, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. I feel that John Henry and the Fenway Sports Group should wait until the MLB concludes its investigation before handing down their decision.
However, in this day and age that’s easier said than done and with the reports that Cora will earn a stiffer penalty, they may want to cut bait as soon as possible.
How will this affect the Red Sox going forward? The obvious first domino is finding a new manager to replace the former infield if he is dismissed by Henry. Ron Roenicke is the current bench coach and has experience as a manager in the bigs thanks to his time with Milwaukee. He’d be the likely top candidate thanks to his knowledge of the team and time in the role.
Former Boston captain Jason Varitek has had his name thrown around in some circles of the fandom and I’ve even seen Dustin Pedroia mentioned in some areas as well. Each has a long history with the organization, is beloved by the fanbase, has earned respect from their teammates, and own great baseball minds.
It wouldn’t be easy going from what they’re doing now to sitting in the hot seat but it would fall in-line with the career path of Cora and could be an easy transition for either.
That’s just talking about things on the manager front, as we all know, the winter of 2021 can bring some massive changes to the Red Sox lineup going forward. The impending free agency of superstar left fielder Mookie Betts is weighing heavy on the minds of everyone that has a stake in this team.
Then there’s the chance that J.D. Martinez and his powerful bat could pack up and opt-out of his current contract. Each could be devastating to Boston’s chances at contention going forward.
We’ve all heard from Betts that he wants to test free agency and that it isn’t an anti-Boston move. Depending on what circles you choose to be in you may have different thoughts on this. Some believe Mookie is destined for the bright lights of a big city like Los Angeles or New York, while others believe he does enjoy Boston and just wants to get paid.
Betts has said throughout 2019 that he enjoys his teammates and the organization but has never really given his love overall for the city, at least not to my memory. This kind of behavior leads credence to each side of the coin but with the Red Sox giving him a record-breaking deal to avoid arbitration over the weekend, he may want to stay.
There were two big acquisitions made by the Red Sox heading into the 2018 season, hiring Cora as the manager and signing then free-agent J.D. Martinez. Both flourished in their debut seasons at Fenway Park and were big components in winning the World Series. Martinez has opted-in for the 2020 season but has another chance to go back to free agency once the upcoming campaign comes to an end.
As things stand right now, Martinez has already lost one of his closest teammates in Brock Holt as the second baseman is unlikely to return from free agency. Add into that the big possibility of Mookie going to another city and his manager being released, it’s hard to see him staying after 2020.
Both have seemed incredibly fond of playing for Cora and sitting under his learning tree. Alex was a well-respected player in his time and mirrored that as a coach. This latest discovery will likely tarnish his image in the minds of the fans but players as well. If Cora is released by the Red Sox then whoever takes the throne will have to keep the players happy while course-correcting the ship.
With Mookie all but out the door already and J.D. having another chance to leave as well, next winter has a chance to be a massacre. Yes, that’s incredibly dramatic of me, but think about it.
I just don’t see Mookie returning and if Martinez follows him out the door, Boston just lost two of their biggest weapons in the blink of an eye. The team won’t be completely destroyed but those lineup gaps will be damn near impossible to fill.
I know I’m being very doom and gloom but it’s pretty hard to be positive with the current situation. For all we know, FSG will drop a massive deal that Betts can’t deny and Chaim Bloom will work with J.D. to draw up a deal to keep him at Fenway for years to come. That’s in a perfect world and baseball is anything but perfect.
How the Red Sox handle the Alex Cora situation will send shockwaves for seasons to come. If they choose to dismiss him then they very well may be sending some of their stars off with him. Loyalty is big in this world and especially in the sporting world, and these two may not want to play under anyone but Cora. It’s impossible to predict what the future holds for the Red Sox but it’s easy to see that how they handle this news can set the tone for next winter.