The Alex Cora Difference

TheoShmeo

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While the CHB and Nicky Cafardo fret about the Sox failure to shore up the pen, the Sox are a whopping 41 games over .500 on the eve of their series with the MFYs. Historic numbers thus far. Yes, we've seen big leads go away, and we know that October is the important season. But the roses smell pretty good right now and the signs are quite positive.

The presence of JD Martinez on the Red Sox is clearly making a huge difference. His numbers and timely hitting are obvious.

But it's also pretty clear that Alex Cora and his staff have been major difference makers, as well.

Two things struck me this morning about Cora.

One is that we don't have a thread on SoSH about managerial second guesses. Haven't we always had such a thread? Certainly there was less to second guess with Tito than JF, but part of the fun of baseball is picking apart decision making, and John Farrell seemed to give us one or two decisions per night. To be sure, Cora has made a few head scatchers, but how many can you list off the top of your head? With Grady and Farrell, I could have reeled off ten at any time.

The second was the lavish praise that John Henry recently heaped on him and, not so indirectly, the severe dumping he heaped on Farrell.

From today's Globe:

“If you remember during spring training I got frustrated initially with writers’ negativity that we hadn’t done much,” Henry wrote in his first public comments on the team since spring training. “I pointed out how bad our approach was last year and how a clean sweep of staff was a major change. Alex and his staff have had a clear approach that is quite different from what we had before, different on a number of levels.

“The talent was there and we were able to win the division the last two years, but we weren’t nearly aggressive enough, except in running the bases where we were much too aggressive.”

....

“Alex is very, very focused and so is this team and staff this year. He is aggressive yet doesn’t overreact or fail to think important issues through,” Henry wrote.

“All of us have been amazed at the presence and intuitive insights he has brought on a daily basis and we’ve also been amazed at how quickly he adjusted to what a major league manager has to deal with in real time during each game.

“The team’s focus shows up every single night. Nothing is taken for granted.”
https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/redsox/2018/08/01/owner-john-henry-now-red-sox-need-produce-postseason/v7h6H9YOENRriD6Meft5PN/story.html

Granted, it's human nature to complain more about a manager than praise him, and this movie still has a long way to go, but Cora's work this year has been remarkable. Among DD's many good decisions over the last year or so, Cora may lead the list. If not, he's very near the top.
 

tims4wins

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Maybe I would have the opposite opinion if I watched BOS every day and NY when possible instead of vice versa, but it just seems like BOS fights for each game more consistently than NY does.
Jon Abbey in the MFY game thread yesterday. Now, I can't comment on the Yankees, I don't watch them enough. But watching the Sox day and day out I completely agree that the Sox fight for every game. They may have a few clunkers here and there (like the 5-0 loss in Detroit, or a couple of blowout losses to the MFY), but nearly every game they are right in it until the end. It's been a fantastic team to follow from that perspective.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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There was some questionable moves early in the season, and still some bullpen management issues that could be Thread Starting worthy... but he's probably made some moves that have turned some W's. He seems to have an uncanny knack for making correct personnel decisions- obviously things that can't be proven, i.e., Holt has a great 2 game hitting streak and inexplicably sits him for Nunez. Nunez goes 2-4 with a HR. He keeps doing these counterintuitive lineup moves that seem to work out.
Other than his handling of Swihart early in the season (and honestly, I have no idea of how to have handled it...) I can't think of one problem.
 

pk1627

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JH’s right in that the Sox are suddenly a hard to get ticket again. Availability and prices for this series are markedly different than the last couple of years.

Also very encouraged by what he says about Mookie.

As far as Cora, like Tito it’s an incomplete until we see October.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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There is a previous Cora thread (no posts in nearly a month) where there was some second guessing going on, but given how well the season has gone to this point, nitpicking and second guessing probably feels like a step too far even when it might be justified. With Tito and Farrell, those teams were chasing far more often than being chased like this year's team, so a poor decision seems to have more potential impact.
 

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I love how consistent he is with regard to dealing with personnel. It seems to me he lets his players know they can expect a day off on a certain day and he keeps to it, no matter the circumstances. A recent example is the day after Devers went down and Xander was not in the lineup. I would guess he had told X that he would have the day off and he did not change that just because Raffy went down the night before. I think this has helped over the course of the season. I would expect (hope) that this changes as we get into the final months and he maybe pushes his core a little more.
 

TheoShmeo

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I bet we didn't in 2013. Let's see how things look in a couple of years when the honeymoon has worn off a bit and the Sox are in third place.
Even when things were going great with Farrell, there were always some odd decisions. That's even true with Tito. You're right that things are rosier when they are winning but I don't think it's all down to that.
 

Rovin Romine

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There is a previous Cora thread (no posts in nearly a month) where there was some second guessing going on, but given how well the season has gone to this point, nitpicking and second guessing probably feels like a step too far even when it might be justified. With Tito and Farrell, those teams were chasing far more often than being chased like this year's team, so a poor decision seems to have more potential impact.
Cora's also just gotten better.

Those early weeks were peppered with questionable decisions on his part, and his staff's part. But lately, I don't recall any games where I felt the team won "in spite of" Cora, or lost because of a particular move Cora made or didn't make.

I bet we didn't in 2013. Let's see how things look in a couple of years when the honeymoon has worn off a bit and the Sox are in third place.
Well, part of that is just the natural learning and engagement curve. Cora's bringing a lot of energy and focus to his new job by all accounts, and he's gotten most of a season as a MLB manager under his belt. Hopefully he does not go on auto-pilot in future seasons once much of this becomes old hat to him. But it's a risk for anyone.
 

JimD

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I bet we didn't in 2013. Let's see how things look in a couple of years when the honeymoon has worn off a bit and the Sox are in third place.
What we think of Cora in (hopefully) three or four years will likely also be dependent on how deftly Dave Dombrowski navigates the next few years. If the Sox are in third place because DD couldn't re-sign or effectively replace Sale, Martinez, Betts, Kimbrel, etc., I suspect Cora will not be the one that fans blame.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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What we think of Cora in (hopefully) three or four years will likely also be dependent on how deftly Dave Dombrowski navigates the next few years. If the Sox are in third place because DD couldn't re-sign or effectively replace Sale, Martinez, Betts, Kimbrel, etc., I suspect Cora will not be the one that fans blame.
Your assumption of scrupulous fairness and rational weighing of evidence on the part of Sox fandom is charming.

Even when things were going great with Farrell, there were always some odd decisions. That's even true with Tito. You're right that things are rosier when they are winning but I don't think it's all down to that.
To be sure, Cora has made a few head scatchers, but how many can you list off the top of your head?
It's all about what we're choosing to focus on. And what we choose to focus on is mostly contingent on how the team is doing. Virtually all managers make decisions that at least some fans find puzzling on a regular basis. When the team is winning--especially under a new manager--we overlook those "head scratchers" or forget them quickly. When the team is losing, and we're looking for places to pin the blame, the manager and his puzzling moves are an easy target. There is no manager so wise that he can't become that target under the right (wrong) circumstances.
 

Adrian's Dome

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Handling of injuries this year has been significantly better than in the past. Seemingly guys are getting appropriate amounts of rest when banged up and they're actively trying to stay ahead of things that could potentially be issues for the long haul (see: Sale and Devers.)
 

DeadlySplitter

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Handling of injuries this year has been significantly better than in the past. Seemingly guys are getting appropriate amounts of rest when banged up and they're actively trying to stay ahead of things that could potentially be issues for the long haul (see: Sale and Devers.)
now, what about Mitch?
 

MakeMineMoxie

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I love how consistent he is with regard to dealing with personnel. It seems to me he lets his players know they can expect a day off on a certain day and he keeps to it, no matter the circumstances. A recent example is the day after Devers went down and Xander was not in the lineup. I would guess he had told X that he would have the day off and he did not change that just because Raffy went down the night before. I think this has helped over the course of the season. I would expect (hope) that this changes as we get into the final months and he maybe pushes his core a little more.
IIRC, this was also something Tito was praised for, too. Guys seem to really appreciate knowing ahead of time if they are in or out of the lineup and if their scheduled day off still stands.
 

DJnVa

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now, what about Mitch?
He's been on bench in 4 of 11 games since the ASB. Prior to that he had started 23 of 25, and going back he's essentially sat as much in last 2 weeks as he did in previous 50 games.
 

InstaFace

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Cora is on a very good trajectory, and clearly has very good people skills. The quotes we've seen about players talking about how much more fun they're having this year, given the coaching staff (or attributing it to the coaching staff - not just all the winning), speak to this. We have yet to see how Cora will handle adversity, or not having an overwhelming talent advantage on the roster, but it's inarguable that he's gotten the max, or nearly the max, out of the roster superiority that he has.

I'll admit to being a little biased against him because of the whole "super-genius" label that got mockingly thrown around towards the end of his playing days, when writers couldn't help themselves but describe him in bunyan-esque terms and cloyingly talk about him as "future manager material". The fact that it has not only come true, but also proven him to be good at his job, burns me a little bit. I can't justify that feeling, other than to say that in general, if sportswriters are fer it, I'm ag'in it.

Cora's in-game tactics strike me as inferior to Tito's, but only slightly, and he has plenty of time to improve. We got Tito starting in his 5th year of MLB managing, so with Cora in his 1st, he's owed some leeway. Strategically, managing health and long-term performance trends over the course of a season, he seems to be doing pretty well at using low-leverage innings to give people a break, try out new pitchers, or still give the regulars some work if need be. He's also done very well at working in young players into the lineup and bullpen - arguably better than Tito did at some junctures (though it's a very fine edge). The thing I remember most about Tito's in-game tactics was, there were times you could say he should have done X rather than Y, but you could always, always point to a justification for why he did Y. There were no inexplicable blunders, just things that didn't work out, or where he may have weighed considerations differently than the armchair generals here.

The biggest question mark is how Cora will do in the playoffs. Playoff Tito was practically a meme around here, because as soon as Francona got (and gets) into a high-stakes situation, he turns into a stone cold killer who will make the best-percentage play every single time and gives absolutely no quarter. Not for nothing did he become a Friend of Bill. He managed absolute rings around Farrell, Gibbons, and even Maddon during his 2016 run, and got them to extra innings in Game 7 of the WS with a roster that, top to bottom and considering October health, was vastly inferior to at least the Cubs, and arguably his other opponents as well. His managing in the 2004 and 2007 postseasons, and frankly even 2008, was the stuff of baseball-geek legend. Measured by those standards, Cora will have a great burden to clear, and falling short of Playoff Tito will still be no slam on him.

Suffice to say I'm immensely pleased by what I'm seeing out of Cora, and think he has the potential to be the best manager in baseball. Even his supporters felt like Farrell might top out at top-10, maybe top-5, on his best days. So we've already made an upgrade, and we've still got upside. I'm a fan.
 

Dewey'sCannon

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I can really think of only one time all year where I seriously questioned a tactical decision - back in May, trailing the Yanks 2-1 with runner(s?) on base, they knocked out Severino out and Robertson came in, and he let JBJ and Vaz hit when he had Moreland available to PH - I though he should have had Mitchy PH for Vaz. But really only once in over 100 games? With Farrell it seemed like it was almost every game.
 

InstaFace

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Well, might as well bump this one before the game's outcome is decided...

If he pulls Price at the start of the 7th, and Hembree sucks as he did:
"Why pull a starter who's cruising, at 93 pitches, against a lineup that's been moribund since they got into town? Why tinker? Just had to prove to everyone how smart you are, huh Cora?"

If he leaves Price in, then pulls him after the walk to Gardner:
"His best matchup was against Romine! If you're going to let him start the inning, you gotta let him pitch there. Hembree sucks, his strand rate is in the cellar."

As he did, pulling Price two batters in:
"Why would you let Price start the inning? He'd had a great 6 innings, he could hardly find the plate in the 6th, pull him and let him build on that and feel good!"

I feel like the decision tonight is a little Schrodinger-esque, a little of Belichick's 4th-and-2. You play the percentages as best you can. If they don't work out, you get second-guessed no matter what, even if it was the right decision going in.
 

williams_482

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If I was to criticize anything, it would be leaving an exhausted Price in against a series of right handers, and then going with Hembree instead of Barnes once it became obvious that this was going to be a high leverage situation against the Yankees best hitters. That was questionable, and I hope Cora plays it differently in a playoff game, but for a team 8.5 up and trying to give David Price some confidence or whatever, it's hardly indefensible.

The comparison to 4th and 2 is odd, in that we can say pretty definitively that Belichick was right (and on 4th and 13, he was wrong). I would be incredibly impressed if anyone, including the Red Sox, has decisions like "when should you lift a starter" down to a science at even the level of amateur 4th down decision making.

It's extremely likely that Hembree, a healthy, fresh, not-sucky right handed relief pitcher, was going to be more effective on a per plate appearance basis than David Price, a tired, not-sucky, left handed starting pitcher on his 3rd (soon to be 4th) time through the order. Chances are, that was true as soon as Aaron Hicks came up to the plate for the third time. However, the difference between Price and Hembree is relatively small, and there are obvious long term benefits to giving the starters their full workload and not burning out the pen.

Figuring out when the short term benefits of lifting the starter become large enough to outstrip the long term costs is a question beyond any of us.
 

DamageTrain

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My thinking at the time was that I didn't want to see Price out there in the seventh for the following reasons. (1) Price has been a bit of a head case against the Yankees and he had pitched a strong shut out six frames in what many were hyperbolically saying was "the most important start of his Sox career." So if he stays in the dugout that whole line of questioning is gone and maybe he can go forward against the Yankees with confidence. (2) Price was walking a tightrope for much of the game with runners in scoring position all night. Consider yourself lucky and move on at that point. (3) It reduces the pressure on the incoming reliever to start a clean frame. (4) I'm still scarred from gump and Pedro.

So I was disappointed when he came out, but it lead for a much more devastating Yankee loss in hindsight so -- long live the Boston Massacre of 2018!
 

joe dokes

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I wonder if that "leaving the game on a high note" thing is a real thing for pitchers of his age, experience and success.
 

RedOctober3829

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I wanted Price out there for the 7th. He was pitching well and it was 7-8-9 in the lineup. When he gave up the hit to Gardner, Cora probably should have gone right to Hembree but Cora trusted Price. The one thing that was wrong in that inning was the walk by Hembree to Robinson. After that, he did his job and got the ground ball double play ball. The game would've been tied, but the inning completely changed. They probably would've walked Stanton and maybe even Didi to get to Torres. They could've easily left the 7th inning tied.
 

Koufax

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One question about Price and his night: It seemed that he was almost always missing Sandy's target by a lot, not a little. Either he had no control, or he just had his own ideas about pitch location. I assume that the former was the case, that he had skated by on more than a little luck, and for that reason Cora was playing to an inside straight by leaving him in.
 

geoduck no quahog

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Price starting the inning exposes the Red Sox lack of a LHR. Even in hindsight I had no problem with Price pitching to Gardner. I'll watch again, but I recall almost every pitch to thumbface being a pretty good one.

Now, Romine sucks and I definitely thought Price would be done after Gardner's hit on what was Price's signature pitch (changeup, according to A-Rod) of the night. If Hembree had come in - it's conceivable that Boone would have PH Bird at that point...but I would have taken the chance. Again, I thought the pitches to Romine were pretty good. Play by Play shows the first and last pitches (both balls) could have been called either way (again, I'll need to re-watch).

I didn't hear any post-game interview, but I assume Kimbrel wasn't available, meaning Cora had to manage Hembree, Thornburg and Barnes 7-8-9 (Brasier wouldn't have entered if the game had become tied or led in the 7th). If the Price move had succeeded, the Yankees have Robinson at the plate with 2 outs...welcome Heath (assuming Price was at 105+ pitches)...but maybe not even then.

Another thing this game exposed: Closers who sit through too many off-days often lose their edge. It's got to be tough for a manager to bring his closer in to get him some work when who knows if he'll be needed the next 2 nights in critical situations.
 

chawson

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Price starting the inning exposes the Red Sox lack of a LHR. Even in hindsight I had no problem with Price pitching to Gardner. I'll watch again, but I recall almost every pitch to thumbface being a pretty good one.

Now, Romine sucks and I definitely thought Price would be done after Gardner's hit on what was Price's signature pitch (changeup, according to A-Rod) of the night. If Hembree had come in - it's conceivable that Boone would have PH Bird at that point...but I would have taken the chance. Again, I thought the pitches to Romine were pretty good. Play by Play shows the first and last pitches (both balls) could have been called either way (again, I'll need to re-watch).

I didn't hear any post-game interview, but I assume Kimbrel wasn't available, meaning Cora had to manage Hembree, Thornburg and Barnes 7-8-9 (Brasier wouldn't have entered if the game had become tied or led in the 7th). If the Price move had succeeded, the Yankees have Robinson at the plate with 2 outs...welcome Heath (assuming Price was at 105+ pitches)...but maybe not even then.

Another thing this game exposed: Closers who sit through too many off-days often lose their edge. It's got to be tough for a manager to bring his closer in to get him some work when who knows if he'll be needed the next 2 nights in critical situations.
I agree. It should be Kelly's spot if Kelly is right. Or Thornburg if he's the same pitcher from 2016. I could even see Brian Johnson coming in for one batter, since Gardner is useless against curveballs.

The only reliever useful against LHB who has a chance of clearing waivers is Francisco Liriano. But he won't. The D-Backs just cut old friend Jorge de la Rosa, who has some LOOGY cache, but he's probably cooked.

Wonder what Poyner's up to.
 

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I agree. It should be Kelly's spot if Kelly is right. Or Thornburg if he's the same pitcher from 2016. I could even see Brian Johnson coming in for one batter, since Gardner is useless against curveballs.

The only reliever useful against LHB who has a chance of clearing waivers is Francisco Liriano. But he won't. The D-Backs just cut old friend Jorge de la Rosa, who has some LOOGY cache, but he's probably cooked.

Wonder what Poyner's up to.
I don't think Jorge is an old friend. Rubby is.
 

uk_sox_fan

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My thinking at the time was that I didn't want to see Price out there in the seventh for the following reasons. (1) Price has been a bit of a head case against the Yankees and he had pitched a strong shut out six frames in what many were hyperbolically saying was "the most important start of his Sox career." So if he stays in the dugout that whole line of questioning is gone and maybe he can go forward against the Yankees with confidence. (2) Price was walking a tightrope for much of the game with runners in scoring position all night. Consider yourself lucky and move on at that point. (3) It reduces the pressure on the incoming reliever to start a clean frame. (4) I'm still scarred from gump and Pedro.
I think you were watching a different game than I was. Price had a dicey 1st inning but that was it until the 7th.

1st
Hicks GO 6-3
Stanton single
Gregorius HBP, Stanton to 2nd
Torres K (looking)
Andujar single, Stanton to 3rd, Gregorius to 2nd
Voit GO 1-3

2nd
Gardner F-8
Romine P-4
Robinson L-8

3rd
Hicks GO 6-3
Stanton K
Gregorius F-8
4th
Torres L-6
Andujar GO 6-3
Voit BB
Gardner K (looking)
5th
Romine infield single
Robinson SAC 3-4, Romine to 2nd
Hicks GO 4-3, Romine to 3rd
Stanton GO 6-3
6th
Gregorius GO 4-3
Torres BB
Andujar K
Voit K
7th
Gardner single
Romine BB

 

DamageTrain

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Clearly have to concede the point -- I never recovered from first inning jitters apparently, and Romine's being in scoring position later. (Admittedly I missed a few of the 1-2-3 innings in between while putting my kids to bed and thought the 1st and 5th were fairly representative... Sorry for the main-board weak sauce...)
 

uk_sox_fan

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The 5th inning never worried me. Price was cruising (only that infield single and one walk in the past 12 PAs) and then Boone gives them an out with the sac bunt. An easy groundout later and it's 2 outs and then they're out of it without drama.

edit: Then again, I missed the first so didn't suffer the trauma of seeing a potential 3rd disastrous Price-Yankee start!
 

Al Zarilla

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Giving large amounts of credit to Cora as being a big improvement is getting to be a crescendo. ARod during the Sunday game, about the fifth inning, said he talked to Mookie at the ASG. He asked him what the difference was with him this year, and he said "Cora". ARod then said Mookie didn't hesitate at all, just "Cora." Mookie told him every day when he gets to the clubhouse, Cora says to him "you're the best". Every day. Then, one day, after he had a horrible game, he got in and figured Cora would ignore him. instead, a big hug and "you're the best".

Today, big Papi was on MLBN Quickpitch or whatever they call it. Same thing, asked what the difference was this year and he immediately said "Cora". He talked about great clubhouse chemistry first, then something like playing for Cora is like playing for your buddy or your brother.

I'm sure it's easy to say Cora is the big difference because of the team's record, and maybe if A. Boone's team was 9 games in front (yuck, eww), he'd be getting huge accolades. But, was it Parcells that said you are what your record says you are? Yes, Parcells said that.
 

Adrian's Dome

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As a firm believer that 2013 was a fluke, Farrell was horrendous, and his teams continually underperformed their true talent levels, I'm going to take both Mookie and Papi's words for it.

JDM is a difference maker as well and that needs to be noted, but other than he and Cora, this is mostly the same roster as last season that saw an unreasonable amount of underperformance (especially on offense.) Who outside of Kimbrel last year exceeded expectations?
 

joe dokes

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As a firm believer that 2013 was a fluke, Farrell was horrendous, and his teams continually underperformed their true talent levels, I'm going to take both Mookie and Papi's words for it.

JDM is a difference maker as well and that needs to be noted, but other than he and Cora, this is mostly the same roster as last season that saw an unreasonable amount of underperformance (especially on offense.) Who outside of Kimbrel last year exceeded expectations?

I think the irony (surprise?) in all this is that the consensus was that Farrell's biggest weakness was in-game tactics and his strength was behind the scenes.. My view was that he was no better or worse than anyone else tactically (or, at a minimum, it was nearly impossible to make a useful comparison), and unless there's some sort of open warfare, the behind the scenes stuff is all speculation.

So, now it seems two things are clearer....1) the consensus was wrong about behind the scenes. His style/personality/whatever was not the best to maximize this particular team going forward. Maybe he was too tight, too old-school, whatever; and 2) *that's* what seems to be more important than in-game brilliance. (by how much? YMMV).

Another example might be Washington. Dusty Baker was never thought of as a tactitian, but this year, the DC clubhouse seems to have gone awry. And I suppose Bobby V didn't lose his tactical acumen in 2012. But he never had the clubhouse.

And FWIW-the team was successful in years other than 2013.
 

LoweTek

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I also think Farrell's 2013 success had little to do with him and a lot to do with the team coming together for the community after the bombings. That and "anything but BV" syndrome.

Cora has been very sharp. But even Tito's player's buddy style caught up with him eventually. You have to be very careful as a buddy style leader. It almost never lasts past the first player or players willing to take advantage of it. See Beckett, Josh or Gonzalez, Adrian.

I hope Cora can keep his eyes open for this inevitable pitfall.
 

Adrian's Dome

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And FWIW-the team was successful in years other than 2013.
Depends on what you consider "successful", I'm talking relative to talent levels and expectations.

This year's Reds would consider 90 wins extremely successful. Would the Red Sox? Not a chance.
 

joe dokes

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Depends on what you consider "successful", I'm talking relative to talent levels and expectations.

This year's Reds would consider 90 wins extremely successful. Would the Red Sox? Not a chance.
Fair enough. But I have to think long and hard about why a team that wins the division isn't successful, but I understand what you're saying.

Although I think "talent level" and "expectations" are most often Rorschach-ish things not real comparators.
 

Adrian's Dome

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Fair enough. But I have to think long and hard about why a team that wins the division isn't successful, but I understand what you're saying.

Although I think "talent level" and "expectations" are most often Rorschach-ish things not real comparators.
Obviously you can't set a hard line on talent and expectations, but they're still things. A team that wins the division can still underperform, it's not an either/or scenario.
 

joe dokes

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Obviously you can't set a hard line on talent and expectations, but they're still things. A team that wins the division can still underperform, it's not an either/or scenario.
I agree. My indicator of that is hindsight, though. It seems fairly evident to me that Cora's "handling" has benefitted many of the younger stars, as compared to last year. I am much less confident in relying on more amorphous things like talent and expectations in a vacuum. And a lot of that is just me. I'm not big on using predictions as a baseline for comparison with results. At the margins of course, that's different. If they had won 33 games last year, not 93, I wouldn't have to wait. But its hard for me to find underperformance just looking at the results.
 
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Hank Scorpio

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Some numbers I found interesting:

- Throughout MLB, there has been a 4.8% decrease in runs scored from 2017.

- The Red Sox meanwhile, are on pace to allow 11.5% fewer runs than they did in 2017, while scoring 10.44% more than they scored last season.

- In 2017, the average team had 33 WAR, indicating that a "replacement team" is worth about 48 wins. The 2018 team is on pace for 56 WAR, which would project them to a 104 win team. Pythag projects them to 108 wins. Team is actually on pace for 114 wins.

- 2017 team had 42 WAR, putting them at 90 wins. Pythag had them them at 93 wins, which was their actual win total.

- Despite being vastly improved in terms of runs allowed, the pitching staff projects to be only marginally better in terms of WAR, picking up only half a win.

- The offense, however, projects to pick up a whopping 14 wins:

  • 7 of those wins are simply from upgrading 2017 Hanley to 2018 JDM.
  • 4.5 of those wins are from Mookie's huge season
  • 4 wins belong to Benny's improvement.
  • X and Moreland also project to improve significantly over 2017.
  • JBJ, despite his bat, has essentially been a wash compared to his 2017 self.
  • Catcher and 2B have been significantly worse this season, probably 3B too.
* Using WAR totals from Fangraphs, and extrapolating them over a full season. Not perfect, due to midseason additions/departures, but interesting nonetheless.
 

uk_sox_fan

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3b was 0.6 fWAR last year. So far this year (about 70% through the year) they’re at 0.8. That projects to 1.1 or close to twice as much production over replacement as last year.
 

Doctor G

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I think one difference is we dont see the occasional throw in the towel game that Farrell would accepttto preserve his pitching staff.Cora goes after all of them as does his team.
Its not a marathon but a series of sprints .
That and the chiseled jaw and chiseled mind.
 

Al Zarilla

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I also think Farrell's 2013 success had little to do with him and a lot to do with the team coming together for the community after the bombings. That and "anything but BV" syndrome.

Cora has been very sharp. But even Tito's player's buddy style caught up with him eventually. You have to be very careful as a buddy style leader. It almost never lasts past the first player or players willing to take advantage of it. See Beckett, Josh or Gonzalez, Adrian.

I hope Cora can keep his eyes open for this inevitable pitfall.
I was also going to mention how about what happens when a player might go awry and need some discipline. It can't all be like one big frat part (without the booze). My post was getting long, so I didn't.
 

Hawk68

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I also think Farrell's 2013 success had little to do with him and a lot to do with the team coming together for the community after the bombings. That and "anything but BV" syndrome.

Cora has been very sharp. But even Tito's player's buddy style caught up with him eventually. You have to be very careful as a buddy style leader. It almost never lasts past the first player or players willing to take advantage of it. See Beckett, Josh or Gonzalez, Adrian.

I hope Cora can keep his eyes open for this inevitable pitfall.
I see evidence that Cora is a strong leader, and inspires his team to their best performance. It is impressive that he recommended the team cut ties with Hanley Ramirez.
 

richgedman'sghost

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As a firm believer that 2013 was a fluke, Farrell was horrendous, and his teams continually underperformed their true talent levels, I'm going to take both Mookie and Papi's words for it.

JDM is a difference maker as well and that needs to be noted, but other than he and Cora, this is mostly the same roster as last season that saw an unreasonable amount of underperformance (especially on offense.) Who outside of Kimbrel last year exceeded expectations?
I would hesitate to call Farell "horrendous" . Bobby V and Joe Kerrigan were horrendous managers. Farell did win a World Series and win the AL East twice. I would say that Nunez, Vazquez and Pomeranz were three players who exceeded expectations.
 

JimD

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Farrell was the right manager for the time and place in 2013, but the wrong guy for a retooling/rebuilding team and apparently for the contending team that followed.

Tito was the right guy for the time and place in 2004, but he then proved to be the perfect guy to manage the transition away from a group of players who had become legends in Boston and the gradual introduction of both prospects and seasoned players brought in via trade/free agency.

Cora is very much the right guy for the time and place in 2018. I have a good feeling that he will be much more like Tito in the years to come than Farrell, but time will tell.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I wonder how much of Farrell's rep (particularly as a players' manager) can be tied to Torey Lovullo? The bench coach is typically the conduit between the manager and the players. He's the guy that's generally staying connected and plugged into the clubhouse vibe. Obviously 2013 was what it was, and then the team continued the transition from the 2008-2012 core to the current one and the 2014 and 2015 struggles could be attributed to that as much as anything. It came together in 2016 and a division title, then Lovullo left.

To that point, there were no stories about clubhouse problems or a disconnect with Farrell. In fact, when he got sick in 2015, everyone expressed love and support and noted how much he was missed and they wanted him back. Maybe it was all talk, but maybe not. Then in 2017 the team had a different vibe, there was the whole Price-Eck thing, and despite another division title, Farrell was out. Seems to me the key missing ingredient was Lovullo.

One could make the same argument with Tito and Brad Mills. While Tito obviously had his direct player relationships (the cribbage games with Pedroia, for example), Mills was the guy dealing most directly with the players on a day-to-day basis. Maybe something in the dynamic changed when he went to Houston after 2009. Maybe if he was still there in 2011, Tito doesn't "lose" the clubhouse like he did. No slight on Demarlo Hale, but perhaps he didn't have the way with the guys that Mills did. Same could be said of Gary Disarcina last year.

I don't want to say that perhaps Ron Roenicke deserves some credit but I do think that the coaching staff, bench coach in particular, plays a greater role than ever gets mentioned. I'm not sure that means that certain guys should be bench coaches forever and not move on to bigger things. I think it means that it is probably a right guy, right time situation for them as well as managers.
 

joe dokes

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I wonder how much of Farrell's rep (particularly as a players' manager) can be tied to Torey Lovullo? The bench coach is typically the conduit between the manager and the players. He's the guy that's generally staying connected and plugged into the clubhouse vibe. Obviously 2013 was what it was, and then the team continued the transition from the 2008-2012 core to the current one and the 2014 and 2015 struggles could be attributed to that as much as anything. It came together in 2016 and a division title, then Lovullo left.

To that point, there were no stories about clubhouse problems or a disconnect with Farrell. In fact, when he got sick in 2015, everyone expressed love and support and noted how much he was missed and they wanted him back. Maybe it was all talk, but maybe not. Then in 2017 the team had a different vibe, there was the whole Price-Eck thing, and despite another division title, Farrell was out. Seems to me the key missing ingredient was Lovullo.

One could make the same argument with Tito and Brad Mills. While Tito obviously had his direct player relationships (the cribbage games with Pedroia, for example), Mills was the guy dealing most directly with the players on a day-to-day basis. Maybe something in the dynamic changed when he went to Houston after 2009. Maybe if he was still there in 2011, Tito doesn't "lose" the clubhouse like he did. No slight on Demarlo Hale, but perhaps he didn't have the way with the guys that Mills did. Same could be said of Gary Disarcina last year.

I don't want to say that perhaps Ron Roenicke deserves some credit but I do think that the coaching staff, bench coach in particular, plays a greater role than ever gets mentioned. I'm not sure that means that certain guys should be bench coaches forever and not move on to bigger things. I think it means that it is probably a right guy, right time situation for them as well as managers.

Great point. It's something else to consider in the "what makes this manager successful" soup. But also another implicit suggestion that what goes on behind the curtain (what we don't see) may be of more value than the stuff that we do see (and think we know something about).