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AL Manager of the Year: Defense of Alex Cora

Boston Red Sox by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

AL Manager of the Year: Defense of Alex Cora

Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Let me start this off by saying that I was wrong. I underestimated the Red Sox all year due to their postseason history in the past two years. I realize now that that was foolish. The Red Sox were as good a team as the regular season showed, much to my surprise. I lay the credit for that on a lot of people, players like David Price, Steve Pearce, and Jackie Bradley Jr. who came in clutch in the postseason, J.D. Martinez who raked all year, and Mookie Betts for being an MVP caliber player. The biggest advantage for the Red Sox though, was their rookie manager, Alex Cora.

I loved Alex Cora all year round, but I didn’t think he would be capable of bringing a team that I felt would crumble in the postseason to glory. Clearly, I was wrong, and I will face those repercussions with a smile. I am a Red Sox fan after all, pessimism and all. Now, I understand that the BBWAA votes for manager of the year at the end of the regular season, thus making Cora’s brilliant postseason irrelevant to the proceedings, but still something feels a little off here.

My original intention of this article was to write a well reasoned response that justified the naming of Bob Melvin while still defending Alex Cora. But you know what? I’ve changed my mind.

Look, I get that Bob Melvin had very little star power on his team, and brought the team with the lowest Opening Day payroll to 97 wins and a “postseason” berth. That postseason berth was just the Wild Card though, which to me doesn’t really count. Fight me. Look, it’s impressive, don’t get me wrong, and he deserves praise for improving 22 wins from the A’s 75 win 2017 season, but I can’t bring myself to agree with this pick.

Call me a homer if you will, but my friend Wesley, a Yankees fan, summed this up with the perfect analogy: “Cora losing best manager is like what it would have been like if The Godfather lost best picture. Yeah it was stacked and the source material was great. Yeah Deliverance was interesting. But one was a goddamn masterpiece. Cora’s season was a masterpiece.”

If a Yankees fan feels this way, you know there’s something there.

Cora’s season was so incredible that the Sox have already extended him. They don’t want to let him go. I can’t blame them either. Alex Cora took a team of egos and difficult personalities to the best record in baseball. If you don’t think it takes immense talent to minimize David Price controversies (Fortnite aside) and keep him invested in the long haul, I don’t know what to say to you.

Boston is one of the biggest baseball markets in the country, but this team was not well liked before this year, thanks to unpleasant personalities and an overall unpleasant scent wafting from John Farrell’s clubhouse. Taking this team and turning it around into something Boston is excited for and wants to root for is no small feat. People questioned Alex Cora’s ability to handle this market when they hired him, but I think he answered all doubts resoundingly.

The main criticism against Cora was that he had the highest payroll in the MLB. Let’s forget for a minute that a major chunk of that was going to players such as Pablo Sandoval and Rusney Castillo, as Jared Carrabis of Barstool Sports so eloquently states. Does the BBWAA think it’s easy to manage a team with that much highly paid talent and the egos to match? If they do, I think they’re crazy.

Congratulations Bob Melvin, you took a team of nobodies and brought them further than anyone expected. For that, you deserve kudos and a round of applause, I genuinely mean that.

Alex Cora was robbed. A rookie manager in one of the toughest markets took a team of strong personalities to 108 wins and the best record in baseball. Alex Cora had a brilliant season and while he had strong talent to help him, that shouldn’t detract from the outstanding work he did. 

A 90s baby from New England, Chris currently resides in Indiana attending Indiana University for grad school. An unabashed New England sports fan, you will find Chris in equal measures criticizing and praising his team. When not developing hot takes Chris can be seen on the stage in various theatrical productions.

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