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Alex Cora Said What?

Is the manager sending signals?

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox
Big mad.
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Boston sports media can be confusing. If a main character misspeaks in the slightest they can land in the headlines for days or weeks, yet, as Dan pointed out, Alex Cora gave an insanely juicy quote to Chris Cotillo two weeks back and basically no one has said a peep about it:

“We’re in a good place. But at the end of the day, the place that we like is to play in October,” Cora said. “It’s not about how many prospects you have or where your farm system is. It might be No. 1 or 30th or whatever. The one that really counts is how many games you win in October and how many games you play in October. That’s what we’re shooting for.

At the risk of being overly dramatic, doesn’t this feel like a swipe against the Chaim Bloom project at this point of its lifecycle? It seems for all the world that Cora, like the rest of us, has had it with The Process, and I can’t blame him. I also can’t blame Bloom for doing what he’s doing, but this is the first real public break in administrative philosophy I can remember since Dave Dombrowski was fired, and it’s potentially juicy as hell.

It’s easy to see where Cora is coming from. Dombo gave him everything he could ever want in 2018 and all Cora did was lead his team to a top-10 finish in Major League Baseball history. Bloom does not have the same approach, to say the least. He is a value buyer, or has been to this point, and Cora sounds like he doesn’t quite see the value.

Frankly, he and Bloom seem on totally different timelines, to the point I think this could — maybe — be Cora’s last season in charge. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was a mutual parting of ways this offseason, and as a I say on the pod, I’d take Jason Varitek over the field as the next Sox manager at 50/50 odds. He’s in the building, he’s hungry and he’s the beau ideal of a homegrown manager candidate. Barring a scandal, I’m fairly certain that it happens eventually, and Cora’s sideswipe definitely has me thinking harder about how the John Henry/Chaim Bloom regime might move going forward.

It’s been three and a half years and it’s finally working on what looks like a sustainable level, but how high is the ceiling? The Bloom Bible seems to suggest never reaching for the stars, lest you might miss, whereas the Dombo Doctrine was more or less the exact opposite. But Dombo basically bankrupted the team to do it, right? That was the whole point of the reset, after all.

As Dan notes in the podcast — categorically not! The team’s farm system was poorly ranked at the time, but the players to emerge from it include Jarren Duran, Triston Casas, Brayan Bello, Tanner Houck and Kutter Crawford. Five years on, is that level of success a fair tradeoff for a historically great 2018 team? Yes! A thousand times yes! That’s an absolutely acceptable contextual haul, if not a good one. The point is: Time is fickle. Win when you can.

Cora has lived the good life as a manager and seems to be tiring of playing second fiddle to the cult of Chaim, and I can’t blame him. All of this said, I know that managers only matter so much, so losing him wouldn’t seem like the end of the world — just another step. First, Don Orsillo. Then Dombo. Next, Cora? After that, who knows?

Anyhow Dan and I discuss all this stuff in great detail along with a million other things, as usual, but this is easily the juiciest part. It’s only now that I think re-hiring Cora after his suspension was to bridge the Dombo and Bloom eras, and how we might be totally across it. That doesn’t mean Cora needs to go, but it does mean that he might not stretch any further. We’d always have to cross that point when we got to it, and we may be closer than we think.