Photo Credit: NESN.com
The Boston Red Sox have a vacation until the first round of the playoffs or is it? Expect Alex Cora to be making some hard roster decisions in the next few weeks.
Ineffectual and slovenly play is the responsibility of the manager and the coaching staff, but does this apply to the Red Sox? Manager Alex Cora should never be immune from critique and I am sure Cora practices self-awareness when he is alone with his thoughts. How could I have done better?
The main function is to place players in a position where they can succeed and Cora has done a masterful job. I am sure anyone who watches the team can offer up selective moments when Cora became Mr. Bonehead and Cora has publicly admitted as much.
The recent tailspin which is not a tailspin, but losses to the Yankees have certainly raised the concern of Red Sox Nation who have now collectively relaxed with a division title. The first two losses brought forward the usual condemnation of players and manager. If this was losses to Detroit or Baltimore it would bring on a big yawn. But being the Yankees it takes on a life of its own as a precursor to playoff failure – a “We are doomed!” mentality.
The reality check is that teams sometimes go into a collective funk and the idea is to make such a funk only short-term. A team funk and that rhymes with a slump is similar to what we see in players when suddenly a pitcher gets rung up for a few games or a batter disappears for ten games. And for teams it often becomes a real group effort at failure.
The Red Sox are approaching late September and the last ten games will be designed to finalize a roster for the ALDS. Pitchers and hitters may be placed in situations a bit out of the baseball norm – experimental? To a certain extent and also to maintain health and a healthy attitude. This is where Cora will be further tested.
The test is one of motivation, but the players the Red Sox have assembled seem to have avoided the layback attitude of the Red Sox teams of the 1950s that I witnessed. There are personal and team goals to be targeted and, of course, the realization that the second season is about to commence.
So is there any worry? Is the panic button just a flicker away? At this point, the state of the Red Sox is as solid as Gibraltar with the only questions being to fine tune the roster and that is in play for several on the team. A Joe Kelly most certainly realizes his playoff future could hinge on a few appearances in the next ten games. Kelly is not alone.
I would place fears into the closet and wait until the first round begins. At that point, a few losses will be disastrous at the beginning and then the collective ire can surface. Cora has done a magnificent job at the helm of the Red Sox and we may see a repeat of first-year success that John Farrell had.