How Cora Could Return In 2021

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The Red Sox are taking their time in finding a new manager for the club now that former manager Alex Cora is no longer with the organization.  Ideally the club is looking to have a new manager in place by the time Spring Training begins, but that window is growing smaller and smaller by the day.

Photo courtesy of bostonsportsjournal.com
Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said it is possible the club may not have a manager in place before pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers on February 12th.

“Nobody wants to be at this point in a year without a manager, obviously, so that would become even more important once we get to spring training” said Bloom.  He would go on to say, “it would certainly be ideal” to have replaced Alex Cora by then — but not at the cost of rushing the process.”

The Red Sox let Cora go last week after MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred basically called him the ring-leader in the 2017 Astros sign-stealing scandal that has rocked the baseball world.  The club held a press conference last week to announce Cora and the team has parted ways.

It’s been very quiet on the manager front for the Red Sox.   There hasn’t been much coming out of Fenway on who could replace Cora.  Since the Red Sox hired Bloom, it has been eerily quiet for the Red Sox.

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The Red Sox presumably have internal candidates for the job with current bench coach Ron Roenicke and third base coach Carlos Febles.  If Red Sox Nation had its way, they would have named former captain and catcher Jason Varitek manager the second Cora was shown the door.  Dustin Pedroia’s name has also come up quite a bit, but in all actuality he is not ready to take the job, nor has he expressed interest.

WEEI’s Lou Merloni offered up a potential solution to the Red Sox managerial search when he appeared on NBC Sports Boston’s Early Edition on Thursday night.

"What you do is you don't even name the manager," Merloni said.  "You go into spring training if you have to, whenever this investigation is over.  Roenicke runs the team.  Varitek has more responsibility in camp.”  Merloni would go on to add, “and when the report comes out -- and if it's what they believe it is, that they're clean - then Roenicke's the manager, Tek's the bench coach, and you go from there with no promises of the future and you just say this is the way we go.  I think that's the easiest transition for everyone in that locker room."

When taking a step back to think about it, it kind of makes sense to go that direction.  At this point in the offseason, and being this close to Spring Training, there is no need to bring in a manager they theoretically don’t want.  By naming Roenicke the interim manager for the year, the club gets some consistency from Cora to Roenicke, Varitek takes on a bigger role as a bench coach and can get a feel for the game in a different coaching capacity.

The drawback would be is if the team is found guilty of wrong-doing in the 2018 alleged sign-stealing scandal.  If that’s the case, it’s hard pressed to think that Roenicke had no knowledge of what was going on that season.  The bench coach is heavily involved in that goes on in the on-field baseball operation.  If it comes out the club is found guilty, Bloom needs to let go of the bench coach.

Merloni believes the team will be found innocent, that the staff is innocent, and the club will not be punished by MLB.

"I'm hearing that they believe they are going to get off scot-free," Merloni said.  "They believe that what they're told is true and that they didn't do anything.  And if they didn't do anything, there's no reason for punishment."

Merloni is well connected to the team, and I find it hard to believe he would make this claim without any idea that they could be innocent.

Besides his take on the team being innocent, Roenicke being named interim manager, Merloni explained why he thinks the club could try and bring back Cora in 2021.

“To me, I don't think Chaim Bloom… his first hire for a manager… he goes out and hires the best of what's left ...The next manager, I don't think you want to just take what's best.  You want to wait and, you know, that's why you want to go interim for a year, and then you look at a bigger pool.  One that may include Alex Cora ... Cora's a longshot.  But we've got to see what happens with the investigation.  We've got to hear from him after the investigation.  We've got to see how the summer goes, the PR, how Roenicke does.  I think you say, 'Ron, you're the manager of the team.  We'll re-evaluate at the end of the year, there's no promises.  I'm not going to give you a four-year deal, and you'll be up for the job next year too.  We'll see what happens.”

San Francisco 49ers NFC ChampsThis would mean MLB will only suspend Cora for one year, which as of right now there has been no penalty leveled by the commissioner.

On our Red Sox Podcast ‘To Be Named Later’, I speculated that the league would go on and hand down its findings and punishments after the Hall of Fame announcements on Tuesday.  Also, that the league would announce before the Super Bowl to not distract from the NFL’s championship game.

If Cora were to come back to Boston, it’s not so farfetched because it’s been speculated in the Boston media that owner John Henry had intentions of keeping Cora, and it would also explain why it was announced as a “parting of ways” and not a firing by the organization.

Whatever the Red Sox decide to do, it will be interesting as we get closer to the start of Spring Training.  Bloom has a tall order ahead of himself from a roster construction standpoint.  Adding a managerial search to the equation doesn’t exactly make his current job the easiest in Boston.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: How Cora Could Return In 2021
How Cora Could Return In 2021
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