On Friday, the Boston Red Sox re-hired Alex Cora as the team’s manager––not quite ten months since the team fired him for his involvement in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal.
But how did we get to this point?
Whether you were for or against this reconciliation, you likely have some questions. Who made this decision? Why would this team want a man exiled from baseball for cheating as the proverbial spokesperson?
While both questions are fair to have, we may never get the 100 percent answer we’re looking for. The best we can do is speculate and infer based on what’s in front of us––starting with the decision to mutually part ways back on Jan. 15.
In business jargon, typically “mutually agreeing to part ways” is code for there’s have enough respect to make this decision seem like it was a tough one to make. Usually, it’s an outright firing. Perhaps, in this case, the mutual agreement to part ways was just that; a mutual agreement.
While the Mookie Betts trade had yet to happen, it appeared to be a formality at that point. With pitchers and catchers reporting a month later and the team appearing to punt on the season, having the ongoing questions regarding Cora’s status would’ve become a sure-fire distraction.
Not to mention, at the time, Chaim Bloom only had roughly ten weeks in the organization under his belt. When you are entirely switching organizations, establishing an immediate affinity for a guy who saw a 24-win decrease in Year 2 can become challenging. Typically, within a couple of seasons, the person overseeing baseball operations is faced with deciding who his spokesman is.
You’ve seen it over the past two decades in Boston: Theo Epstein brought Terry Francona. When they left, ownership implemented Ben Cherington and Bobby Valentine into those roles. After a year, Cherington fired Valentine and brought in his guy: John Farrell. When Cherington resigned in 2015, he was replaced by Dave Dombrowski. Two years later, Dombrowski fired Farrell and brought in Alex Cora.
All caught up now?
Following a season in which the Red Sox vastly underachieved as reigning World Series champions, ownership decided to part ways with Dombrowski and brought in Bloom six weeks later. Bringing the cheating scandal into the fray, Bloom had a perfect opportunity to immediately bring in his guy at the manager spot, following the eventually COVID-shortened 2020 campaign.
Then came the offseason. Bloom and co. knew the list of candidates they had, and out of respect for their mutual agreement in January, Cora was on that list. They were going to legitimately search for their next manager, while Alex Cora was going to get his chance to showcase why “new” doesn’t always mean “better.”
Ownership already knew they loved Cora, as they’ve never said anything negative about him as a player or, more recently, as their manager. However, Bloom may have had some reservations. But after meeting with the guy and conjuring up his list of finalists (Cora and Sam Fuld), Bloom decided that Cora was indeed the best man for the job.
In summation, here’s what I infer happened with Alex Cora and the Boston Red Sox since the Astros cheating scandal came out.
1. Considering the Chief Baseball Officer didn’t have the same affinity towards Alex Cora as ownership did, the Red Sox decided to let the manager go as a public relations move. Getting out ahead of the MLB investigation, and perhaps saving a little face in the process.
2. When the investigation showed the Red Sox weren’t nearly as guilty as Houston and punished on a much lesser scale, ownership went to Bloom and told him they’d like to bring Cora in for an interview. In doing so, they gave Bloom the confidence that he’d get to pick his guy.
3. During the interviewing process, Bloom learned that Cora was undoubtedly someone to put as a finalist.
4. Bloom decided that there was good reason for ownership to be so adamant in their affection for Cora, and therefore it made complete sense for them to re-hire the 45-year-old.
This decision was most definitely Bloom’s, as reports continue to back that up. The Red Sox got their guy and are in a prime position to spend big money and field a far more competitive team in 2021.