By: Dylan Porcaro
After a lot of rumors during the American League Championship Series, the Boston Red Sox officially hired Alex Cora as their new head coach on October 22nd. He is the current bench coach for the Houston Astros, who are representing the American League in the World Series. Cora recently turned 42 years old and will be a rookie manager in 2018. Although this will be his first stint as a head coach, I think he’s the perfect fit for the job.
From 2005-2008 Alex Cora was a utility player for the Sox, predominantly playing second base. He got along well with manager Terry Francona, and many claim they viewed Cora as a player-coach. For example, Manny Ramirez was if not the best hitter on the team, the second best (David Ortiz), but was always known as a bit of a head case. In an article on Boston Sports Journal, Mike Lowell explained in an interview how Manny Ramirez once showed up late for a weight room session. Although he wasn’t an everyday player, Cora got on Manny, essentially telling him they weren’t going to win in the playoffs if he was not fully invested. Most all-star caliber players would blow off a role player, but Cora had a unique relationship with his teammates and had respect from everyone in the clubhouse. Manny pulled his act together and stayed focus enough to help Boston win a World Series in 2007 with Cora on the team.
This current Red Sox team has a very young core, and its veterans aren’t exactly the best clubhouse guys. David Price’s off and on the field issues go without saying, but he’s received the most criticism from his dispute with Red Sox Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, in which Price tried his best to embarrass Eck on the team flight. Hanley Ramirez is also one of the older players on the team, who is known for being one of the laziest professional athletes out there. When he’s on and gives his best effort, he’s without a doubt one of the best hitters that the MLB has to offer, as we saw in this year’s ALDS. At the same time, every now and then if he is asked to play first base on a day in which he wants to be the DH, he will simply claim he’s hurt and take a few days off. Dustin Pedroia is a guy who shows up and gives his best effort no matter what, but also was involved in a couple of bizarre incidents this past season; most notably pointing at John Farrell and his teammates when Manny Machado was hit by a pitch, blaming them for what happened and essentially separating himself from his own team. Alex Cora is a young enough guy that the players can relate to him, he’s not too far out of touch. Dustin Pedroia took Cora’s spot in 2007, but they both have carried on a good relationship since then. Cora should be able to get through to Hanley the same way he did with Manny, mainly because he’s a guy that the players will have respect for. David Price is a wild card so who knows how he’ll get along with Cora, but it still appears that Cora is best suited to deal with him.
As far as managing goes, Cora served as the General Manager for team Puerto Rico and he got them to the finals this past World Baseball Classic. As the Houston Astros bench coach this year, he has seemed to really adjust to being a coach. The biggest problem with the Red Sox has been the coaching staff and the players not being on the same page, people just not communicating with one another. After the Astros beat the Yankees in game 7 of the ALCS, numerous players on the field searched for Cora to go give him a hug during the postgame celebration. I believe that’s exactly what the Boston Red Sox have been screaming for the last couple of seasons; a manager who has a really close relationship with the whole team, sort of like Francona did with both the 2004 and 2007 World Series winning teams.