Red Sox must move on from Alex Cora, give Ron Roenicke his shot
By Rick McNair
The drums are beating for a possible return of Alex Cora as manager of the Boston Red Sox. A bad idea that needs to be deep-sixed.
Major League Baseball has finally, after an excruciating investigation of the Boston Red Sox 2018 season for sign stealing, reached a conclusion. The Red Sox have now done the expected apologies and will move on. What has surfaced is Alex Cora’s possible return to Boston after his suspension for crimes perpetrated while employed by the Astros. This is as sensible as marrying your ex. Enough! Move on from this.
There is a baseball axiom that no doubt traces all the way back to when the game was called Rounders – “Managers are hired to be fired.” The most successful of managers are often deposited into the scrap pile over poor performances, player discontent, and a volatile relationship with the owner. In the long-gone days of Tom Yawkey failure often meant a promotion such as Pinky Higgins and even Joe Cronin. Pushed upstairs when tossed off the bench.
Recent Red Sox history has seen the disaster of Bobby Valentine and internal revolt. Easier to jettison a manger than ten or twenty high-priced malcontents. John Farrell bit the managerial dust and that may have had its roots in a new boss – Dave Dombrowski – looking for “his guy” to steer the ship. His guy was Cora.
Ron Roenicke is now the manager and not the interim manager. A vote of confidence? Based on the lukewarm exoneration of Cora, the move is afoot for a restoration of the previous regime. It appears management is making a statement about Cora and the organization. Cora is on the outside looking in thanks to a well-earned suspension for his trash can skullduggery while being a bench coach for the Astros. Cora earned that suspension and is none gone from the team. It’s Roenicke for 2020 – if there is 2020. And it should be for 2021.
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Put to rest the Cora manager return as after the disaster of 2019, Cora’s days were possibly numbered. Where and when and with who Cora resurfaces, it will be somewhere that is not Boston. Cora’s indifference to the authority of manager AJ Hinch to cease spy operations has him as tainted goods. Dombrowski is gone and now so is Cora. This is the Bloom administration and Roenicke is in for a season. And that is where we migrate back to be fired.
Roenicke is taking over a flawed team that has a legitimate chance of making the playoffs. With the way playoff opportunities are expanding that is not exactly a reason for Roenicke to do a happy dance with management. Farrell had a reasonably prosperous record of reaching the playoffs and was sent packing. Terry Francona likewise. Winning a World Series in Boston does not insulate a manager from incessant media and fan criticism which eventually becomes a what have you done for me lately situation?
Roenicke will stay as long as progress is being made, but just how is progress defined? Is it player development? The won and lost record? Big hugs of appreciation from fans and their accomplices in the media? A locker room consisting of 25 Gandhi’s? Usually, in Boston, it is winning. But even winning has to come with good feelings. It might just get you a reprieve only.
For Roenicke, it will be the ghost of Banquo disguised as Cora that will be in the background. Cora will have his supporters and any failures by the Red Sox will raise the specter of the return of Cora. Going back to that ex thing? Let Roenicke manage and succeed or fail without concern of Cora resurfacing.