How does the MLB’s recent report on the 2017 Astros cheating scandal affect Alex Cora’s future in Boston?
If you have turned ESPN on, or checked social media within the last few hours, you have probably seen the latest news that is rocking the MLB world. The MLB has handed out their punishment on the Astros after their investigation of the allegations that the 2017 Astros used technology to steal signs.
Shortly after the news broke, the Astros decided to fire GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch.
In the report, the MLB mentioned Alex Cora several times and labeled him as one of the key figures behind the scheme:
Alex Cora’s punishment for his role in the cheating scheme has yet to be announced. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that his punishment will be “harsh.”
Now it’s time to dive into the question: What does Alex Cora’s future with the Red Sox look like?
When I first heard of the Astros cheating allegations, I honestly didn’t think of Alex Cora as a figure in it. He’s had two great seasons in Boston and the fans have loved him. But, as I began to put the pieces together, I knew that the likelihood that he played a significant role in it was probably high. I wasn’t sure on the severity of his punishment, but I thought he would receive a notable one.
After I read the statement the MLB issued today on Alex Cora, I doubt that he will be in Boston in 2020. I love Cora and hope he’ll be the Red Sox manager going forward, but after what the Astros did, I can see the Red Sox doing the same with Cora. Like mentioned above, the MLB names him as a key role in the whole scheme and like Hinch and Luhnow, I think the Red Sox will fire him. After the report that named the Red Sox as another team who used technology to steal signs came out last week, I think if the Red Sox were to fire him now before the MLB issued his punishment, it could go a long way with the MLB deciding what the punishment the Red Sox should receive — if they do decide to hand them one.
I love Alex Cora, but obviously, what he did was wrong. There’s no place in baseball for what he and the Astros did in 2017. However, do I think what the Red Sox are being accused of is on the same severity level as what the Astros did? The reality is that every team is most likely stealing signs in some way, shape, or form. In my opinion, some ways are a lot different than others. For example, the use of the technology the Astros used in 2017 does not belong in the game. But as far as players picking up signs over the course of the game without technology – that has been around every level of baseball for a very long time.
My hope is that the Red Sox don’t get hit hard, if at all, for the allegations that surfaced recently. The team has the 17th overall pick in this year’s MLB Draft and they can’t afford to lose that.
As you can find the receipts on Twitter, I had initially felt like Alex Cora would suffer a similar fate to that that of A.J. Hinch (pre-firing) to the tune of a one year suspension; however that all changed upon reading the findings within the report. Cora is mentioned numerous times, and even Lunhow, explicitly mentioned him as a source of the idea and it’s execution. While plenty could be said about potential hard feelings with their former bench coach leaving and winning a World Series, there’s also plenty to be said about the old mantra of “where there’s smoke, there’s often fire.”
It’s hard to imagine a future of the organization that involves Alex Cora, which quite frankly is a hard pill to swallow. I was extremely bullish on Cora being the right man for the Red Sox managerial opening and was immediately validated with a World Series title within a season; however the allegations are piling up and it may be wise for a proud organization to get ahead of this. The Astros moved on from both primary offenders, and while the punishment may not be as severe for the Red Sox organization, it’s still a terrible look for Cora.
There will undoubtedly be ramifications for the Red Sox and their participation in 2018, but I would expect it to be lesser than that of Houston. However, a penalty resulting in a loss of draft picks, or monetary losses, are the exact ordeal that would hurt what Chaim Bloom has set out to do – build from within and stay below the luxury tax threshold. It won’t be more severe, as the organization can’t be punished for Cora’s actions while still in Houston, but make no mistake. Rob Manfred will come down hard on the Boston Red Sox and may very well force ownership’s hand to cut ties with Alex Cora.
What do the Red Sox do with the manager position if they decide to let Cora go?
I think if the Red Sox do decide to move on from Cora, as I expect them to, an internal candidate will assume the role of manager. My top pick would be Jason Varitek. Tek has been a fan favorite ever since his playing days and I think he would fit in well with the current team as manager.
The other candidate that I could see becoming the next manager would be Ron Roenicke. Roenicke has been the bench coach since 2017 and has been around the game for a long time, plus he has managerial experience.
My hope is that the Red Sox front office doesn’t see this as an opportunity to trade everyone now and try and start a rebuild following the 2020 season. The big question that I have been thinking of the last few hours is: How does this all affect Mookie Betts? It’s not ideal to have a situation like this arise right before your start player is set to hit free agency after this coming season.
It seems like Ron Roenicke will be the man, at least in the interim. He has plenty of managerial experience, most recently with the Milwaukee Brewers and will be able to keep the continuity that the organization has been building within the coaching staff. As there isn’t an excess of time before Spring Training, it would seem unlikely that Chaim Bloom would bring in a new face of the franchise in 2020, but rather build towards 2021.
While there’s been talk of Jason Varitek, Dustin Pedroia, or other beloved former Red Sox players, I’d expect Chaim Bloom to bring in someone that he feels completely comfortable with – rather than an internal promotion. Bringing in a new manager, doesn’t necessarily open the door to “trading everyone,” or having a massive fire sale; however it does make plenty of sense to begin to look at moving players with expiring deals. Jackie Bradley Jr, David Price, potentially Mookie Betts, and others are names that we’ve heard all offseason, but could make sense for Bloom to leave his stamp on the organization.
If I had to place money on something, I’d expect Roenicke to be at the helm on Opening Day, but it will be extremely rough not to see AC at the top step of the dugout.
Photo Credit: USA TODAY – Kim Klement