Cora 2.0 - Will The New Boss Be The Same As The Old Boss?

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There’s a line in The Who’s classic song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” that goes like this…

Meet the new boss - Same as the old boss

The Red Sox did just that in a press conference on Tuesday when they re-introduced Alex Cora as the team’s manager, returning after serving his one-year suspension for his role in the Houston Astros cheating scandal.  

Photo courtesy of wcvb.com

Cora said all the right things in the press conference.  He apologized for the “tough spot” he put the organization in.  He used phrases like “I’m not proud of what happened”, “I’m sorry”, and “I made a mistake.”   This comes as no surprise, what else was he going to say?

The return of Cora was somewhat unthinkable when he and the team “parted ways” prior to Spring Training, and even more so when the MLB levied heavy penalties against the Astros organization, GM Jeff Lunhow and manager AJ Hinch.  MLB withheld punishment of Cora pending investigation of an alleged scandal with the Red Sox during his first year as manager in 2018, but ultimately the Red Sox transgressions were found to be not as egregious as that of the Astros, and Cora was suspended for his role as the mastermind of the Astros plan only.

Ron Roenicke was promoted first from bench coach to interim manager, and then the interim tag was removed and he was anointed the manager for the 2020 season.  However, Roenicke’s contract was set to expire at the end of the season, and he was not offered an extension.  The lack of an extension for Roenicke opened the door for a possible Cora return, something the Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom would neither confirm nor deny when questioned about the possibility.

When Roenicke was dismissed from his managerial duties after the dismal 2020 season, speculation grew stronger the Cora may return, and Bloom again would not address even if Cora would be a potential candidate.  The writing for a Cora return was on the wall, however, when virtually all of the remaining coaching staff was given the opportunity to return.  If the Red Sox were planning to go with a new manager, why would they not allow him to have the ability to bring in at least some of his own coaches?

The Red Sox were not the only team seeking a new manager after the 2020 season.  The Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers were also shopping for a new skipper, and Cora’s name was floated as a possibility for both openings.  The Tigers decided to go with former Astros manager Hinch, returning after his own suspension, and the White Sox pulled a shocker in bringing back the 76 year-old Tony La Russa back to the dugout.  This left the Red Sox alone on the manager market.

It’s interesting that baseball showed no reservations in immediately having Hinch and Cora return as managers.  It was initially thought that both would have to work their way back to the manager’s job, either as coaches, scouts, or in front office or broadcaster roles.  Yet less than three weeks after their suspensions were lifted after completion of the World Series, both are big league skippers again.

Cora is undoubtedly the best choice for the Red Sox, cheating scandal aside.  He has proven he can manage in the Boston market and has a good rapport with the media.  He is also well liked by his players and was integral in the development of some of the Red Sox younger core players in Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and Eduardo Rodriguez.

One of the knocks on Cora during his previous Red Sox tenure has been his arrogance; his propensity to come off as the smartest guy in the room, or in this case, the dugout.  This arrogance shone brightly after the miraculous 108-win World Series winning 2018 season when Cora mismanaged the pitching staff to start the season, and flip-flopped Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi at the top of the batting order.  Both moves failed miserably, and the Red Sox never recovered. 

It was hoped that Cora’s failure in 2019 would have been a lesson learned for him moving forward.  A one-year suspension should have been an even greater humbling experience for Cora.  As stated above, he is saying all the right things, but has he really learned from his admitted mistakes?

One exchange from Tuesday’s press conference caught my attention.  NBC Sports John Tomase asked Cora why, in terms of the cheating allegations, he didn’t do the same things in Boston in 2018 as he did with the Astros in 2017.  Cora replied, “I didn’t think we needed to do something like that.”  He also went on to say, “I decided in the off-season to not bring it here.”  He also implicated that he had discussed the cheating scheme with Red Sox management and ultimately decided “it wasn’t worth it.” 

Earlier in the press conference Cora would not answer the Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato’s question if he knew in 2017 what he was doing with the Astros was wrong.  And, when questioned why he didn’t do the same thing with the Red Sox, his answer was that it wasn’t worth it.  Really!?  Does that sound like someone who has learned his lesson and is contrite?

Cora has served his punishment and has every right to return to the Red Sox dugout.  Let’s hope he truly has learned from his mistakes and can elevate his already impressive managerial skills.  If he has, the new boss really won’t be the old boss.  Let’s hope we didn’t get fooled again.

 

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Cora 2.0 - Will The New Boss Be The Same As The Old Boss?
Cora 2.0 - Will The New Boss Be The Same As The Old Boss?
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