The Alex Cora Difference

JimD

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 29, 2001
6,607
Last night's game basically was a 'must win' game. Cora knows like we all do that the odds in Game 5 are heavily in Houston's favor so virtually nothing was off the table to grab the win last night. I'm actually fascinated to see how he navigates the pitching situation tonight if Price can't go long.
 

mostman

Member
SoSH Member
Jun 3, 2003
7,523
Who cares if he wanted the ball. That's why there is a manager to make the decision.

And if you'd look at the way Kimbrell pitched as a "success" than we have different definitions of it. Yup he got out of it but it took a 10D all time defensive play to do it.
And don’t forget Mookie’s throw in the 8th, which entirely changed that inning. Kimbrel didn’t succeed. He threw the ball towards home and hoped for a miracle.
 

PedraMartina

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 19, 2005
76
Los Angeles
I think he looked and saw Bregman altuve springer coming up in the eighth and felt Kimbrel was his best option to get through that inning. You have to get those three first before worrying about the ninth.
I had the same thought — he must have had a very good reason NOT to want Barnes facing the top of the order at the particular moment.
 

Savin Hillbilly

loves the secret sauce
SoSH Member
Jul 10, 2007
18,064
The wrong side of the bridge....
Last night's game basically was a 'must win' game. Cora knows like we all do that the odds in Game 5 are heavily in Houston's favor so virtually nothing was off the table to grab the win last night. I'm actually fascinated to see how he navigates the pitching situation tonight if Price can't go long.
I suspect he's counting on four and hoping for five from Price. Hembree has made several 2-inning appearances this year, and Workman has made a few, so I think Cora will be counting on those two to bridge the gap between however long Price can go and the 7th inning.

So I'd suspect it'll go something like this:

Price -- 4-ish
Hembree -- 5th-6th
Workman -- 6th/7th
Kelly/Edro -- 7th/8th
Barnes -- 8th/9th

Depending on how the game is going, he might keep one or two guys in reserve for extra innings (though Eovaldi could probably be called on to pitch an inning or two as well in that scenario). But if either team has a big lead he'll probably use them all.

I had the same thought — he must have had a very good reason NOT to want Barnes facing the top of the order at the particular moment.
I think he may have been managing for tonight as well. After using Barnes quite lightly the past two days, he's in a position to ask him for four or five outs tonight.
 

DanoooME

Well-Known Member
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Mar 16, 2008
15,394
South Jersey
I've been thinking about how Cora managed yesterday... And I've been thinking Poker.

He was given a decent hand. But he knows some cards he may need are out of the deck (Sale and Nunez). But he's pot committed. He can't just fold. But... He also knows that this is not a win and go home situation (see Sale, game 4, ALDS).
He also went all-in on a gutshot straight draw. We fans being the ones gutshot
 

joe dokes

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 18, 2005
12,687
I think he may have been managing for tonight as well. After using Barnes quite lightly the past two days, he's in a position to ask him for four or five outs tonight.
Makes sense. As much as Cora was all-in, he did hedge the bet a little.
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
5,482
He's absolutely gonna have to use Workman and Hembree today, with Price going on three days' rest and having thrown about 50 warmup pitches in the bullpen last night.

Tonight seems about as much of a lock as you're gonna find in baseball. The Sox' situation going up against Verlander and a do-or-die Astros team.

But who knows - maybe the Sox will unload on Verlander and they'll cruise.
 

soxhop411

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 4, 2009
34,119
He's absolutely gonna have to use Workman and Hembree today, with Price going on three days' rest and having thrown about 50 warmup pitches in the bullpen last night.

Tonight seems about as much of a lock as you're gonna find in baseball. The Sox' situation going up against Verlander and a do-or-die Astros team.

But who knows - maybe the Sox will unload on Verlander and they'll cruise.

It’s baseball. Anything can happen.
 

Jimbodandy

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 31, 2006
2,835
around the way
And don’t forget Mookie’s throw in the 8th, which entirely changed that inning. Kimbrel didn’t succeed. He threw the ball towards home and hoped for a miracle.
I was having flashbacks of Curtis Leskanic and Shag Crawford. Similar miraculous results.

Plenty to second guess here, but I'm honestly not sure if I would have handled anything differently.
 

JimD

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 29, 2001
6,607
It’s baseball. Anything can happen.
Absolutely. The personality transplant Cora has performed on this team is stunning - most of us are looking at this game as a likely Houston win but I don't think anyone in the Sox clubhouse feels this way, and they don't see a Price start on short rest or the probable need for innings from Hembree and Workman as a weakness. They are looking at it as an opportunity for those guys to step up and have their moment in this run. If they can keep this close, they are winning this game, and I would not bet against an offensive outburst against Mr. Upton either.
 

wilked

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 17, 2005
1,743
It’s baseball. Anything can happen.
exactly

Vegas has the Stros at -180, or about a 65% win probability. Still leaves a nice 35% chance of closing the series out with short-rest-Price, Hembree, Workman, and Barnes. Which is sort of crazy

Astros bullpen is on fumes a bit as well, so if Red Sox can knock Verlander out in the 5th/6th the bats can pick up the arms
 

Clears Cleaver

Lil' Bill
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
11,141
Pitchers available:
Price - three days rest, warmed up hard last night in ninth inning - will start (maybe 4-5 innings)
EdRod - thrown 20 pitches combined last two nights, should be available 2-3 innings. if he doesn't pitch, then tell that Sale might not be able to go Game 6
Barnes - 0.1 innings, 5 pitches last night; 0.2 IP 16 pitches Tuesday. Should be good for an inning+ tonight
Brasier - 1.2 innings, 23 pitches yesterday, 1 IP 14 pitches Tuesday. Maybe can go an inning tonight
Kelly - one inning, 25 pitches yesterday; 0.1 IP 4 pitches Tuesday. Should be good for an inning tonight
Kimbrel - 2 innings, 35 pitches yesterday. Unknown if available for an inning tonight
Hembree - should be available for 2 IP tonight
Workman - should be available for 2 innings tonight

Not available:
Eovaldi - likely game 7 starter on four days rest. he has not pitched well on less than 5 days rest
Porcello (4IP, 68 pitches) - could pitch an inning+ in game 7
Sale - hopeful game 6 starter if necessary

I mean if Price is not able to go 4-5 innings, they have to get 3-4 innings from EdRod/Kelly/Hembree/Workman tonight and then if ahead of close late have Barnes. I am not sure they can count on Brasier or Kimbrel tonight.
 

reggiecleveland

sublime
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Mar 5, 2004
20,500
Saskatoon Canada
If the Sox have the lead in the 9th I expect Kimbrell, He has been better when working often.

During the game thread I didn't like him pulling Barnes, but there is probably info we don't have/ Barnes is maybe hurt, sick or they saw something they didn't like. We may get info later, Barnes had the flu said he would get him an out, etc.

I guess, 10 hours later, it was reasonable to expect the Sox to score and only a play 33% as good as Benitendi's stopped them from scoring two more.
 

DrewDawg

Dorito Dink
SoSH Member
Dec 16, 2010
34,854
The Sox cheat sheet for the Bregman last night told Benintendi he was positioned properly for Bregman, but he called an audible--he told Yahoo Sports that he took 1.5 steps in figuring he might have a chance to throw out Correa at plate if Bregman dinked one in.

He figured a deep drive over his head was going to take a crazy carom off the scoreboard and he wouldn't be able to do anything, so he decided that he didn't want a ball landing in front of him without him having a shot at Correa.
 
Last edited:

gedman211

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 6, 2016
2,409
Eovaldi and sale could be on the table for an inning apiece if the Sox have the lead. I wouldn't be surprised if Cora doesn't trust erod or Hembree at this point in high lev situations
 

Savin Hillbilly

loves the secret sauce
SoSH Member
Jul 10, 2007
18,064
The wrong side of the bridge....
Yeah, but that's where they are. Others think Brasier and Kimbrel are in play. I tend to doubt it. The Sox don't absolutely need this game. And if they win, they have 4-7 more games to play. I don't think Cora's going to want to break anybody. Brasier has thrown 37 pitches in the past two days. Kimbrel threw 35 last night. I think they're both off the table tonight unless maybe extra innings.
 

drbretto

guidence counselor
SoSH Member
Apr 10, 2009
9,238
Concord, NH
Apologies if this has been said earlier in the thread but I'm really loving this strategy Cora's come up with of batting Mookie 8th or 9th in the order. At first I was dubious but for 3 straight games he's come up with men on in key situations late and (of course) delivered as only Mookie can. Really the difference in the Series!

Also fantastic that Mookie's decided to pay homage to the great Fred Lynn by wearing his uniform number and even batting from the left!
What's even more impressive is Mookie's ability to grow that beard so fast.
 

lexrageorge

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2007
7,389
I think everyone but Sale are technically available tonight, just because I don't see them risking any sort of additional injury to Sale if he's not fully recovered. We'll probably only see Kimbrel or Eovaldi or Porcello if there's extra innings. But I otherwise fully expect Cora to go all in for the win if the game is in reach in the 7th. Win tonight and every pitcher has at least 4 days off to recover.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

Found no thrill on Blueberry Hill
SoSH Member
Sep 9, 2008
26,231
AZ
I feel like there's a bit of a lack of rigor when it comes to analyzing manager decisions here, which is maybe appropriate for game threads, but it feels as though the main board should have something of a requirement that at least some presentation of the available alternatives be discussed. It's very easy to say "pull Porcello" or "let Barnes come back," but I think it's incumbent on us to at least try to understand what the manager was going for and what his alternatives were before we resort to assuming a decision is obvious or based on factors like loyalty instead of what the decision should be -- "what choice increases my championship win percentage most"?

So, anyway, I'll try to be a bit more methodical about how I view last night and the choices that Cora made. My ultimate conclusion is that he was managing his ass off and that all of his decisions had a purpose. Some of it was done by feel but by and large I think he was keeping the ultimate proper question in mind -- what is my risk reward here.

1. Cora made a choice that Hembree and Workman were not going to pitch in the game while it was winable. This gave him the following options behind Porcello: Kelly, Barnes, Brasier, Kimbrel, Edro, Price. In deciding among those pitchers he had to take into account two significant factors: (1) Brasier, Barnes, Kelly, and Edro had pitched the night before, and (2) his anticipated starter for game 5 was unavailable. Given all of that he managed Porcello correctly in my opinion. He did not have enough outs in the bullpen to pull Porcello after 2 or 3 unless and until it was clear that Porcello was pushing him towards a blowout loss or Vazquez came into the dugout and said Porcello had nothing. It's a shame Porcello did not perform better, but pulling Porcello early was not nearly as obvious as people in the gamethread seemed to be suggesting and it's a classic example of not considering the alternatives. I actually think the question whether to pull Porcello after 4 was a very tough one and I think Cora made the right choice to keep his pitch count low enough that he likely can be available in game 6 and/or 7.

2. With respect to Barnes, I feel like the point people are really missing is that Cora knew that unless we got another grand slam, Kimbrel was going to have pitch that game. The only thing he didn't know was how much. Ideal would have been 3 outs. But that certainly wasn't obvious. I know in the world of perfect hindsight where Matt Barnes is like Cy Young everyone imagines because he threw a nice curveball that he was just going to cruise through the top of the order in the 8th and get three outs with no damage and Kimbrel would only have had to pitch the ninth. But the truth is that Barnes had not been bridged over two innings very often this year, and his results were a bit mixed. Barnes walks guys too. About .6 an inning. There is a fallacy where fans seem to ignore the potential for things not going exactly to plan with respect to moves not made. A good manager, however, has to consider all possibilities. And one of the non-esoteric possibilities of going with Barnes was having to bring Kimbrel in with 4, 5 or even 6 outs still to get, and maybe with men on base. The choice was not between Barnes and Kimbrel not pitching. Kimbrel was going to have to pitch anyway. If he was going to suck, there was just as much chance he was going to suck in the 9th as there was that he was going to suck in the 8th. With 9/1/2 coming up Cora made a very tough decision and decided that he would worry about the 9th when it came and if there was anything to worry about. That people think this was obvious is astounding to me. Kimbrel was going to pitch sometime.

3. It's also useful to think about how the Sox had gotten to that point. Cora plainly had a plan with a lead. He wanted Brasier to be the guy he stretched. He wanted EdRo to get his lefty, and then he wanted Brasier to get 5 outs. If that had worked, he has a clean 8th and 9th for Kimbrel and Barnes. From his postgame comments about wanting Kimbrel for Kemp and the top of the order I think there actually is a possibility that, had things gone to plan, Cora might have been playing around with which order to use Barnes and Kimbrel in the 8th and 9th depending on the lineup that was due up. Anyway, EdRo did not get his man, and Brasier couldn't get that last out and gave up a double to put two men in scoring position in a two-run game. Cora had three choices to make: (1) Hembree, (2) use Barnes earlier than he wanted to, or (3) stick with Brasier and hope. It looks like he never gave serious consideration to Hembree because he wasn't warming and so Cora had already essentially elected against option 1 earlier in the inning by not even having Hembree take off his sweatshirt. That left options 2 and 3 and it was very hard choice. But once he went with Barnes that really dictated the very difficult end of the game scenario as it played out.

To me, the main question when judging managers is not how they perform when they are choosing between good options, but how they act when they are choosing among shitty options. I think if EdRo or Brasier gets that out we're never having this conversation. But they didn't and I think the risk-reward percentages of the choices Cora had to make were all way more narrow than people are thinking. Worse, as mentioned, I think there is this overwhelming desire to act like it's obvious that the choice not taken would have worked out, when the job of the manager is actually to try to weigh the odds that it might not.
 
Last edited:

joe dokes

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 18, 2005
12,687
I think DDB covered the thought tree well. And one thing that stands out -- that I hadn't thought of -- is that related to the "Kimbrel was going to pitch somewhere" point is that extending Barnes also had the risk of bringing Kimbrel into the game with runners on. Whatever one thinks of Cora's choice to stick with Kimbrel, I dont think anyone thinks that's a great idea. I think the 6-out thing is a bit overblown, in and of itself (it obviously has an impact on the next game). His stuff didn't really diminish over the outing.
 

JohntheBaptist

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 13, 2005
11,382
Yoknapatawpha County
The Sox cheat sheet for the Bregman last night told Benintendi he was positioned properly for Bregman, but he called an audible--he told Yahoo Sports that he took 1.5 steps in figuring he might have a chance to throw out Correa at plate if Bregman dinked one in.

He figured a deep drive over his head was going to take a crazy carom off the scoreboard and he wouldn't be able to do anything, so he decided that he didn't want a ball landing in front of him without him having a shot at Correa.
This reminds me of the info on Nunez's positioning in the LDS. Awesome stuff, thank you for passing it on.
 

DrewDawg

Dorito Dink
SoSH Member
Dec 16, 2010
34,854
Eovaldi and sale could be on the table for an inning apiece if the Sox have the lead. I wouldn't be surprised if Cora doesn't trust erod or Hembree at this point in high lev situations
We've heard Sale is NOT pitching tonight. Now, maybe if it's a 4 run lead and someone we thought could go suddenly can't--because then he has 4 days off after nailing it down, but I don't know if we see Sale tonight in a close game.
 

chrisfont9

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 2, 2007
4,454
seattle
I had the same thought — he must have had a very good reason NOT to want Barnes facing the top of the order at the particular moment.
Jessica Mendoza made a comment on how it was odd seeing Brasier come back to start the next inning after he closed out the 6th. Her reasoning was that in these incredibly tense games, for a reliever to come in and do his job, then experience the relief of that and sit on the bench, only to start all over again in a new inning is hard on guys. I guess the adrenaline kicks into high gear, then drops off, and then you're supposed to kick it back up again? I've never heard anyone say that before, but maybe that was the knock on bringing Barnes back.
 

The Allented Mr Ripley

holden
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Oct 2, 2003
11,592
South Shore, MA
I know that was an issue with Pedro in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, he's said so himself. He walked off the mound after the bottom of the 7th thinking he was done, then Grady approached him in the dugout and asked him if he could get another inning out of him, Pedro said it was a jarring mental transition to make.
 

JohntheBaptist

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 13, 2005
11,382
Yoknapatawpha County
Jessica Mendoza made a comment on how it was odd seeing Brasier come back to start the next inning after he closed out the 6th. Her reasoning was that in these incredibly tense games, for a reliever to come in and do his job, then experience the relief of that and sit on the bench, only to start all over again in a new inning is hard on guys. I guess the adrenaline kicks into high gear, then drops off, and then you're supposed to kick it back up again? I've never heard anyone say that before, but maybe that was the knock on bringing Barnes back.
You must not remember G7 2003. Pedro thought he was done, sitting on the bench, and then...

This makes sense but I bet Brasier knew full well there was a very good chance he wasn't done after he finished his first inning of work. Still, gotta be really tough when that's what you're used to.
 

lexrageorge

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2007
7,389
I recall Timlin used to pace the entire dugout if his appearance was still live. My guess is that Brasier knew he was likely going back out for the next inning; it's not that uncommon for relievers to pitch more than one, and Brasier himself has done it at least 4 times this season.
 

chrisfont9

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 2, 2007
4,454
seattle
You must not remember G7 2003. Pedro thought he was done, sitting on the bench, and then...

This makes sense but I bet Brasier knew full well there was a very good chance he wasn't done after he finished his first inning of work. Still, gotta be really tough when that's what you're used to.
Seared into my brain. It's on the short list of topics I expect to discuss on my deathbed. How the fuck did Little not ... never mind. Slightly different though, starter worn down by repeated pulses of adrenaline vs reliever coming off of one single jolt.

Is it me or does Brasier seem like he doesn't give a damn about anything, which is massively to his credit?
 
Last edited:

Red(s)HawksFan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
10,519
Maine
I recall Timlin used to pace the entire dugout if his appearance was still live. My guess is that Brasier knew he was likely going back out for the next inning; it's not that uncommon for relievers to pitch more than one, and Brasier himself has done it at least 4 times this season.
Yes. If he knows he's going back out, he's not going to have a letdown mentally while he's on the bench. He stays keyed up or whatever he needs to do to keep his edge, same as any starter would.

The Pedro example is a good illustration. He let down and relaxed because he believed he was done after the seventh. I think if he'd had any inkling that Grady was going to send him back out, he might have maintained his "game mode" frame of mind. May not have changed the results, but walking off the mound isn't an automatic sigh of relief for a pitcher.
 

joe dokes

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 18, 2005
12,687
Is it me or does Brasier seem like he doesn't give a damn about anything, which is massively to his credit?
He's 31, been a pro since 2007 spent last year in Japan and has been out of MLB for 5 years (after a 7 game cup of coffee in 2013.) I don't think he sweats the small stuff.
 

The Gray Eagle

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
12,635
I thought Brasier looked really nervous in his first postseason appearance against the Yankees, but since that he has seemed perfectly calm. Maybe getting through that first one has helped him, even though he didn't do that great.
 

drbretto

guidence counselor
SoSH Member
Apr 10, 2009
9,238
Concord, NH
I thought Brasier looked really nervous in his first postseason appearance against the Yankees, but since that he has seemed perfectly calm. Maybe getting through that first one has helped him, even though he didn't do that great.
I saw the same. He looked visibly nervous the first time out. Once he got that out of the way, he's suited up his murder face and has been mowing them down ever since.
 

chrisfont9

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 2, 2007
4,454
seattle
I saw the same. He looked visibly nervous the first time out. Once he got that out of the way, he's suited up his murder face and has been mowing them down ever since.
Pete Abe has commented that the whole team seems to be exhibiting much more confidence after booting the MFYs. I guess that was a hump they needed to get over, after the last two postseasons.
 

uilnslcoap

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
1,566
Purely as an armchair psychologist, I felt like the "The fuck? Get the fuck in the box. Goddamn" incident may have helped put him at ease. No time to be nervous when you're pissed. Irked anyway.
 

geoduck no quahog

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Nov 8, 2002
11,106
Seattle, WA
I really appreciate DDB's take above. Made coming to the site today more than worthwhile.

Cora's next big decision is what to do with Kimbrel from here on out.

Playoffs so far

5 Oct NYY: 4 outs - Homerun (1 ER)
9 Oct NYY: 3 outs - 1 hit / 2 Walks / 1 HBP ( 2 ER)
14 Oct HOU: 3 outs - 2 hits / WP (1 ER)
17 Oct HOU: 6 outs - 2 hits / 3 walks (1 ER)

He went through a stretch like this during the regular season (23 July - 11 Aug)

I don't know if it's his child's health situation, something mechanical, or illness, or injury. Thing is, how far can you go with this? Pedro said last night that he "wasn't picking up the target soon enough"...that he was rushing a bit and/or perhaps paying too much attention to runners...that he should just slow down.

I appreciate he's the guy, but there may come a point when Cora will need to designate him the playoff set-up man and hand closing over to...Barnes or Brazier. There are at most 10 games left to figure that out.
 

The Gray Eagle

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
12,635
Cora knows.

He had the other team down and went for jugular and stomped on them. Eovaldi for 2 key innings, rather than saving him for another start. Showing faith in Kimbrel, who finally put up a zero. Devers in there tonight, and he delivers. Kinsler over Holt isn't what I would have done, but it worked perfectly with Kinsler smacking 2 hits.

Cora is absolutely fearless and will do whatever he believes is the right move, without regard to what the media, talk radio, or us loudmouthed fans have to say about it. He knows his guys and pushes the buttons based on that, not on how the moves will be reviewed by the public.
 
Last edited:

Sox Puppet

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 7, 2016
344
Not to mention eliminating two 100 win teams. That's pretty damn impressive.

I must say, I found myself questioning some of his decisions (the 2 IP appearance of wild Kimbrel, taking Eovaldi out of the clincher), but everything he touches seems to turn to gold.
 

soxhop411

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 4, 2009
34,119
I’m repeating myself. But

Cora could hit on two Kings and draw an ace


He is just that hot.
 

PedroKsBambino

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Apr 17, 2003
21,706
A lot of questions about his game 4 approach, but this is a guy who understands leverage and the difference between regular season and postseason a lot better than most.

Masterful job creating the atmosphere for guys to excel in the regular season and then equally masterful job adjusting his choices to the post-season environment.

Tito is the best Sox manager I’ve ever seen. Cora is coming up strong on the outside. In Cora I trust.
 

LogansDad

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 15, 2006
17,165
Alamogordo
Devers need to play every game in Houston. His power could be a game-changer in that park, and he looked pretty good defensively. I fully expect Cora to sit him against Keuchel on Tuesday but I hope I'm wrong.
Nice post.

As per the thread, I thought Cora completely outmanaged Hinch in this series, just as he did AFB in the ALDS. He has been doing a really, really good job of putting all of his players in a position to succeed, and for the most part they are.
 

Reverend

for king and country
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Cora knows.

He had the other team down and went for jugular and stomped on them. Eovaldi for 2 key innings, rather than saving him for another start. Showing faith in Kimbrel, who finally put up a zero. Devers in there tonight, and he delivers. Kinsler over Holt isn't what I would have done, but it worked perfectly with Kinsler smacking 2 hits.

Cora is absolutely fearless and will do whatever he believes is the right move, without regard to what the media, talk radio, or us loudmouthed fans have to say about it. He knows his guys and pushes the buttons based on that, not on how the moves will be reviewed by the public.
ninja.