Alex Cora is back. That is the big news around the Red Sox, and is likely to stay that way for quite some time. Much of the fan base (not all, but a good chunk) is celebrating the return as really the first concrete piece of good news for the team in over a year. I think everyone realizes that there is much more work to do, and even the most positive about the return of Cora recognizes that there is still a long way to go. This is step one, but the roster still needs to be rebuilt.
And it is that roster, with the players coming and going, that will remain the biggest focus of the offseason. That said, I’m also very interested in how the coaching staff shapes out. Most of it, to be fair, is already filled. The Red Sox made the odd choice early in the offseason to keep most of the coaching staff intact despite actively looking for the manager. Many of us considered that one of the first major signs Cora was likely to return. One notable empty spot that remains, however, is the bench coach spot. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I can give a detailed description of who would or would not make a good bench coach. I can’t do that. But I am interested in the type of coach they bring in to serve as the number two under Cora, and want to run through a handful of the most likely options.
Fuld seems to be the most popular name from outside the organization and by all accounts finished second in the hiring process for manager. We’ll use him as a stand-in for all of the managerial candidates, though if they were all interested and the team wanted to go in that direction it seems Fuld would be the choice. I’m not sure it makes sense, though. For one thing, Fuld has been getting opportunities despite not having a job like this and it doesn’t seem like he needs to work in this kind of role to eventually get a manager gig. Further, I’m not sure he’d want to stay behind Cora. The best-case scenario there is to get a job in another organization, which it sure seems like he can do without taking this job.
And from a Red Sox perspective, I think I’d want a longer-term partner for Cora. Fuld specifically is someone who appears close to a manager gig, so they could be back in this spot in a year or two. I’m not totally ruling out the idea, to be clear, but I think there are too many hurdles and an internal candidate is more likely.
Roenicke sort of splits the line between internal and external candidate. However you want to consider him, I think this one is a real possibility. Granted, the short-term partnership does apply here as well, as Roenicke likely isn’t going to remain in baseball for a long time. It’s possible he retires officially this winter. That said, he and Cora are still close, and they have obviously worked well together in the past. If Cora wants to bring things as close as possible back to his original tenure, Roenicke being back on the bench would be part of that.
This, presumably, would be the fan favorite choice. He’s been someone fans have wanted to see in a bigger role for years now, and while it’s been a little premature in the past at this point it feels totally reasonable to me. If the organization truly sees him as a future manager type, now is the time to start grooming him for real. And given his relative lack of experience and the fact that there is seemingly less interest in him around the league compared to guys like Fuld and others, this could be a longer-term partnership as well. Again, I don’t know for a fact that Varitek would even be good in this role, but the idea isn’t preposterous on its face.
This one probably is, though. It sure seems like the Pedroia situation is going to come to a head at some point this winter, and the most likely end result is him taking on some sort of role within the organization. That will naturally lead many to want him to coach. Jumping right to bench coach is not something I would expect, to put it lightly, though a path similar to Varitek could be. That assumes Pedroia even wants that, of course. I’ve said before and still believe he would be really good as a broadcaster, but again that’s something he needs to want. As for this, I expect to hear the suggestion so let’s nip that one in the bud before it starts.
Beltrán was mentioned by Christian Vázquez earlier in the offseason, so he bears mentioning too. I do not see it happening, as adding more connection to that Astros scandal just seems like playing with fire for little gain. I suppose I can’t put the chances at zero, but I feel like they’re not far off.
Vázquez was mentioned as a possibility by Pete Abraham, and he makes a whole lot of sense. He’s young. He’s up and coming. He’s worked as something of a conduit between the front office and the dugout and has the all-important quality of being able to distill analytics into a usable form for players.
Febles was mentioned along with Vázquez in that linked article from Abraham, and to me he should and possibly is the favorite. Febles just checks all the boxes. He connects back to the original Cora tenure. He is relatively young. He has connections to the players. He has managed throughout the organization. I haven’t gotten a sense of any sort of true favorite for this job, but to me Febles makes the most sense out of the obvious names.