Well, yesterday was a fairly big day in baseball. The long awaited punishment for the Astros has been handed down from the league, and while there’s been some debate as to whether or not it is actually a significant one there’s no doubting A.J. Hinch and Jeff Lunhow caught some heat. Both were suspended for the year and, shortly after the punishment was announced, were subsequently fired.
As all of this was coming out, it was pretty hard not to notice Alex Cora’s name, well, everywhere. The report that MLB came out with detailing their investigation indicated he was something of the mastermind behind the Astros scheme, and of course he was at the helm in Boston in 2018 during their alleged sign stealing scandal. So, being at the center of two of these does not bode well for him. If the league wants to make someone the face of this whole thing, it’s not hard to see Cora being just that.
Of course, it needs to be said that we don’t know anything. To be fair, I think we have a pretty good idea of the minimum punishment he is going to get, because it’s hard to see him getting less than Hinch. So, it seems highly unlikely he’ll be allowed to manage any games in 2020. When you consider that both Hinch and Lunhow were fired quickly after today’s news was dropped, it’s not hard to see a scenario where Cora has managed his last game for the Red Sox. That said, Chris Hatfield did make a good point that we shouldn’t consider that a foregone conclusion by any means. Still, if I had to make a guess, he’s gone.
Either way, he’s almost definitely not managing for the Red Sox next year, which is a pretty big hole to fill in the middle of January! Let’s take a look at some names to keep in mind if Cora gets the punishment we’re expecting.
The In-House Names
This is the most obvious, and most likely, manager for the Red Sox in 2020. It should be noted that he may get caught up in the punishment — I mean, it’s not like he had no knowledge of what was happening in 2018, right? — but there’s been no indication as of now that he’s going to be involved. So assuming he comes out unscathed, he makes sense to manage for 2020. He knows the organization, he knows the players and he has experience as a major-league manager from his time with the Brewers. The Red Sox first hired him as bench coach because they wanted an experienced veteran next to Cora. Now, he may be replacing him.
Febles has been in the Red Sox organization for ever, serving in a coaching role with them every year (except 2012) since 2007. He has been a manager across multiple levels since 2011, making it as high as Double-A Portland. He was then promoted to the majors to serve as the third base coach and infield instructor. Febles is well-liked by the players and developed relationships with plenty of the young Red Sox players during his time in the minors, particularly Rafael Devers.
Moving across the diamond, Goodwin was hired by the Red Sox prior to the 2018 season as their first base coach, their outfield instructor and baserunning instructor. Goodwin doesn’t have the same history in the organization, but the Red Sox outfield defense has obviously been great under his tutelage (obviously not only because of him) and judging by his interactions in the dugout and on the field he is extremely well-liked by the players.
McMillon isn’t in the majors, but he has been in the organization for a long time, just like Febles. McMillon is currently the manager down in Pawtucket, where he was first hired prior to last season. He started with the Red Sox back in 2008, spending most of that time as a manager. Like Febles, he has managed and coached many of the players currently on the Red Sox.
Out of the Organization
Quatraro is the current bench coach for the Rays, and many around the league see him as being on the shortlist for a managerial position sooner than later. He was a finalist for the Giants job this winter and also interviewed with the Pirates. I admit I am stealing this one from Tom Keegan of the Boston Herald, but it makes a lot of sense, particularly due to the obvious connection with Chaim Bloom. I will admit I’m not sure how the Rays would react to an interview request so late in the offseason, particularly to a division rival. Because of this I’m not mentioning any other coaches currently with other teams because it seems to me to be a weird gray area.
Baker has a poor reputation for many fans, largely for his time at the beginning of the millennium when he was with the Cubs. That reputation is largely unfair. He has grown since then. Baker is one of the most accomplished managers in the history of the game and certainly in recent memory. Players like him and, perhaps more importantly, respect him. He also invented the high five, which is always a fact that blows me away.
I’m only throwing this one out there because I’ve heard it brought up a few times. Bochy is retired and I haven’t seen any reason to believe he’s coming out of retirement. I certainly don’t think he’d come back for a situation like Boston’s.
Varitek, to me, feels like a gimmicky potential hire...but also not one that’s too far-fetched. I’ll be clear that I don’t expect it, but it wouldn’t totally blow me away. Varitek is obviously extremely well-respected in the organization and hasn’t ruled out a future as a manager. I’m not sold on hiring a guy with zero professional coaching experience, but also in this age of manager/front office teamwork it’s not as big of a knock.
Again, I’ve seen this suggested a weirdly large number of times. It feels patently absurd. I don’t think Pedroia wants to give up playing, I don’t think the players union would be thrilled about him walking away from his contract, and I don’t think the league would be cool with the Red Sox getting under the luxury tax by handing Pedroia a big contract to manage. I’m baffled that it’s a thing, though I probably shouldn’t be.