When Alex Cora managed the Red Sox to their fourth championship since 2000 no one would have guessed how the next two seasons would go. After an abysmal 2019 season; where the team finished with an above .500 record but had a losing record at home, Cora was subjected to an investigation which led to the uncovering of a cheating scandal with the Houston Astros while he was their bench coach. As a result of his participation, in the scandal, the Red Sox manager was given a year-long suspension by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. The suspension was followed by a “mutual parting of ways” between Cora and the Red Sox organization. A Red Sox organization that had hired Chaim Bloom as their new ‘Chief Baseball Officer’ just three months prior.
After a forgetful season under skipper Ron Roenicke the Red Sox are in a position, with Alex Cora as manager, to rebuild team chemistry and compete in not only the AL East again but the entire league. There was no question that COVID and all its restrictions had an impact on both team comradery and on-field performance. It is worth noting that under Cora’s management, in both ‘18 and ‘19, team chemistry was never an issue. Not only that but it was obvious that the Puerto Rican born manager was able to connect with his Latin players unlike Roenicke was able to.
In his two years as manager there was a definite up-tick in production from players like Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Christian Vazquez and Eduardo Rodriguez. All of whom are a part of the core of the team going forward. Whether it was Devers and Bogaerts in ‘18 each with 30 HR/50 double seasons or Vazquez and Rodriguez in ‘19 having career years, the relationship between Cora and his Hispanic players was contributing to the team’s success. With all four players returning in 2021, assuming Rodriguez can play, the Red Sox have the right pieces for Cora to use.
Chaim Bloom and Cora have yet to coexist as members of the Red Sox organization. With Bloom’s ability to acquire talent, as he did in Tampa Bay, and Cora’s managerial skills, the future of the franchise is promising. Unlike former President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski, notorious for depleting farm systems and building for the short-term, Bloom has a knack for developing young talent, especially pitchers. Acquiring pitching talent is exactly what the Red Sox need, and Bloom is the best man for the job.
The team’s offense is not an issue. They have multiple hitters that are under the age of 30 who are either already on the ball club or are on their way within the next season or two. Pitching is the main concern as their pitching staff was one of the worst in all of baseball in the shortened 2020 season. Hoping to get Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez back in 2021 the Sox are not totally in a position to panic. Tanner Houck was impressive down the stretch and the 24-year-old seems to be poised to hold down a spot in the rotation next season. To go along with Houck’s debut season, Martin Perez had his best year since 2016. The statistics do not impress but he was able to finish the year strong leaving members of the organization comfortable having him as a back of the rotation type pitcher.
All eyes will be on Cora in 2021 which will add pressure to an already otherwise important season. Red Sox fans are optimistic as always and if this Bloom-Cora relationship can blossom then the league may need to be on notice for a resurgence of one of the MLB’s top marketable franchises.