Red Sox Hat

Doling out blame always starts with the manager

Alex Cora tied John Farrell on Sunday for career wins by a Red Sox manager with 432.

That’s as good a reason as any to break out the bubbly, even if the champagne commemorating this particular occasion comes in screw-top bottles.

Now the only real mystery remaining for the 2023 Red Sox is whether Cora will have an opportunity to catch Jimmy Collins for fifth place. That requires another 23 wins, which almost certainly will require Cora to remain employed by the club to open the 2024 season

Common sense says Cora should keep his job. Common sense is not always part of the equation when deciding whether to keep a manager after a disappointing season.

The public debate on Cora’s 2023 performance will focus mainly on whether the manager is to blame for the Red Sox’ crash landing as August trudged toward September.

He isn’t. A manager who could only occasionally pencil in a healthy, experienced stating pitcher already has one foot on the proverbial banana peel.

Spotty pitching is just one reason for the Red Sox’ recent struggles. They also have the worst team fielding percentage in baseball. Their third baseman finished the weekend with 17. They have had to spend much of the season playing without a legitimate big-league shortstop. THeir first baseman has received on-the-job training.

Injuries merit some of the blame for this, A stunning lack of versatility and depth deserves more.

Rafael Devers’ fielding exploits have been well chronicled. If ever there was a player made to serve as a designated hitter, it is Devers.

It has been suggested that Devers’ sub-par batting average is due to his spending too much time trying mightily to become adequate in the field, that may be.

But the apparent ban on making a 26-year-old a full-time DH is not only silly but harmful to the player and his team. Devers is one of the elite batters in baseball. Having him in the lineup every day is a given.

The most logistical way to keep him in the lineup every day is as a DH.

Maybe Cora’s boss(es) see this differently. He would hardly be the only big-league manager to take the heat for decisions handed down from the mountaintop.

Lately, Chaim Bloom’s performance as Grand Poobah of Baseball Operations has become another topic for public discussion. If managerial decisions have been faulty, it is because Cora is simply playing the hand that Bloom has provided.

Bloom has failed by treating the Red Sox as if they are the Tampa Bay Rays of the North. When a club has the financial wherewithal to simultaneously build a young foundation and pay for a top-shelf free agent or two, it is asinine not to do so.

Maybe Bloom considers his efforts as adhering to that concept. If that is so he should be fired for that reason alone.

Maybe Bloom and Cora are each being led to the nearest exit. Maybe they’ll both return. 

Maybe the Red Sox are in such a mess that even the top-ranked underlings should be gone.

But if only one man remains employed when this sorry season limps to its close, it should be Cora.

For one thing, Cora has one more World Series ring than Bloom.

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