By Terry Cushman – @AVIDBOS_PODCAST
Without beating around the bush, the answer is no. I will not. Ron Gardenhire was my steadfast first choice, and in my opinion the SAFEST choice. Despite not getting my wish, I think it’s incumbent upon all of us Red Sox fans to keep an open mind, and give Alex Cora a fair chance to lead and succeed.
It’s always an exciting time when a new manager joins the team. When Bobby Valentine was hired, we knew it was going to be a shit show year with tons of media frenzies. If nothing else, it would at least interesting. When Farrell was brought in, I was optimistic. Being an ardent Francona supporter, I figured a prominent figure from his regime returning to Boston sounded exactly what doctor should order.
Unlike his predecessors, Alex Cora is coming in with a big disadvantage. By the time Francona was hired, the Red Sox were loaded for bear with four eventual hall of famers. Farrell took over a team that was mostly veteran laden, all of which had a ton of previous playoff and World Series experience. The ultimate undoing of both Francona & Farrell is that the inmates ended up running the asylum, despite the fact both previous managers had the benefit of starting their tenures with a relatively clean slate and good clubhouses. Alex Cora will not have that benefit. He will take over a clubhouse full of players who are no strangers to controversy. It will be his difficult task to transform them from a bunch of thin skinned weaklings, to hard nosed championship contenders who will hopefully embrace his leadership.
It’s also very important NOT to judge Cora’s success or ability based on one full season alone. He likely will not have the benefit of winning a World Series in his first season like the two previous managers did. Managers will inevitably make mistakes, it happens to all of them. Joe Girardi had a terrible game two of the ALDS in which his failure to challenge a replay cost the Yankees a high stakes game. The questions to ask yourself here is: “Was this one bad decision? Or has their been a pattern of SEVERAL bad decisions?” In Girardi’s case it was definitely only a bad game. He did in fact rally his team from an 0-2 deficit in the ALDS, to a game seven of the ALCS. In regards to Farrell, after winning the World Series in 2013, most of us assumed he would be the manager of this team for the next decade. However, it turned out to be very deceiving. By 2015 there was an obvious pattern of ineptitude as to whether he could manage this team effectively in the long term. His firing seemed imminent, but his cancer diagnosis likely was the soul factor in why he kept his job another two seasons.
Looking ahead to 2018, between the fact that David Price is STILL leading our clubhouse, and the fact that the lineup has an obvious power deficiency, it’s fair to say this Red Sox team is a mess. Dave Dombrowski is on the hot seat himself, and will certainly seek to fill the needs of the team. But as I said, try to keep your initial expectations modest. Terry Francona, Joe Maddon, or even Joe Torre would probably struggle with the same circumstances Alex Cora is likely to encounter.
At the end of the day, at least John Farrell is not our manager any longer. And despite the fact Cora was not my first choice… Farrell haters can’t be choosers!