The Red Sox have finally started to crumble internally and externally like a poorly plastered wall. The external has been evident since the beginning of the season, with pitching and position players becoming an orthopedic surgeon's paradise, but the defense and baserunning are an embarrassment.
Manager Alex Cora is a carpenter with worn tools, which is senior management's and Chaim Bloom's responsibility. Cora has been handed a dead man's hand since day one, and it is only exemplified by management's inaction at the trading deadline, where the pitching needs were left unattended. Cora potentially becomes a Wild Bill Hickock with the hand or roster he's been dealt.
Now comes strife and the internal, which appears minor, or is it? Has the manager lost control of the clubhouse? Is this just an isolated blip? Bobby Valentine had a veterans uprising to contend with, and Val was soon sent off the island and back to broadcasting. Does the Alex Verdugo situation go deeper? Is there a divided clubhouse with pro and anti-Cora factions? Time will weed through the verbal minutia as the season goes forward (or backward), and it will surface with the usual "unnamed sources." Meanwhile, it is a TMZ baseball show.
Managers can be incompetent game managers, lazy drunks, classless buffoons, and racists; if an owner is skilled, he can package all those shortcomings and call it Pinky Higgins. Now back to the issue of external and the product on the field and how it is managed.
Alex Cora has a poor Red Sox team, still at the .500 mark
A manager at any level places his players in a position where they can succeed, and unfortunately, this Red Sox roster has limitations. Attempting to make the best with the flavor of the day relief staff and infielder du jour is not the road to success.
The latest base running blunder is just the frosting for those entrenched in the negativity, but it is symptomatic of a team unprepared. By August, one would be surprised that those skills introduced in T-Ball would have been instilled in on-field performance at the highest level. The players have collectively suffered amnesia over basic skills. The manager owns this.
Cora and his staff have failed, or have they in preparation? Looking at the circus, the knee-jerk reaction is the boys need some tutorial instruction on fielding and baserunning. One of those Baserunning for Dummies books?
Cora recognizes the deficiencies and has given light hitting Yu Chang almost an exclusive on short since Chang returned from injury. The previous occupant - Enrique Hernandez - has taken his bag filled with errors to Los Angeles. That was a significant part of the Red Sox holding the bottom rung on the American League defensive ladder.
Short is one of many issues, as the rest of the infield is compliant in mediocrity. What could Cora do? One problem I see is the DH should be the third baseman, and the third baseman should be the DH, so at least the left side would be stabilized. That is just anecdotal stuff addressing what I see from the bully pulpit. This is no great revelation, as even casual Red Sox fans have seen too many bonehead plays, throwing errors, and a comical rendition of baserunning so tossing out just about anything can classify as a possible improvement
Weakness eventually will surface, and the Red Sox have been dodging their poor skill set all season. This team gives others 30 outs and not 27. That Cora has cobbled together a pitching staff and infield with skill. There is no way this team should be at the .500 mark. None.
Invariably there is a baseball food chain of responsibility on the execution list. Coaches will be replaced, then the manager, and then the GM. The Yankees have already canned their hitting coach over the inactivity of their offense. I assume Cora's staff may witness significant changes, and I suggest the current staff update their resumes. For those with conspiracy theory tendencies, Cora was a leftover from the Dave Dombrowski era.
The short term is now significant for Cora and the team after a disastrous weekend against Toronto. The team appears disjointed, and the management's lethargic approach has not helped, nor has potential simmering internal issues. With the next ten games against the Royals, Tigers, and Nats, a sour ten games could have consequences.
Cora would stay if I were a decision-maker, and so would Bloom. Just what is the plan for 2024? Will management go to a baseball Lowe's and get Cora some updated tools? Cora won in 2018 and 2021, squeezing an almost out-of-a-good but not-great team deep into the playoffs. Bloom and Cora can have "former" inserted before their names if they fail, but that failure for me would have to be 2024.