Red Sox make bold decision in bringing back Alex Cora as manager

Regardless of who the Red Sox tabbed as their next manager, it was going to be a bold decision.

On one hand, there’s Alex Cora, who managed the Sox for two years before he and the team mutually agreed to part ways in January due to the role he played in the Houston Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing fiasco. Cora was ultimately handed down a one-year suspension by Major League Baseball in April. That season-long ban came to an end late last month, which allowed the 45-year-old to interview for any managerial opening.

On the other hand, there’s Sam Fuld, who has no experience managing in the majors, let alone the minor-leagues. The 38-year-old, like Cora, is a former major-league veteran. Rather than follow the same kind of path Cora embarked upon in his post-playing days, though, Fuld began the second leg of his baseball career in the Phillies’ front office.

Philadelphia initially hired the New Hampshire native in November 2017 to serve as player information coordinator before promoting him to director integrative baseball performance back in January.

In his time with the Phillies, Fuld has served as a conduit who worked to foster communication between players, coaches, and front office staff while also “[integrating] advanced metrics into game planning.”

As intriguing as his resume may appear, Fuld did not have the same luxury as Cora in that he was already familiar with most of the Red Sox’ higher-ups. Yes, he may have a “tight” relationship with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom on account of the time they spent together with the Rays, but that likely does not amount to much when comparing it to Cora’s relationship with the likes of John Henry, Tom Werner, and Sam Kennedy.

So, in the end, the Red Sox went with what they were already familiar with: a known commodity in the form of Cora, who led the club to a historic World Series title in 2018 and is well regarded by players, ownership, and fans alike. The red flags with Cora were certainly there due to what he may have done during his time Houston’s bench coach, but the Sox do not seem all too concerned with that. They made it abundantly clear Cora was at the top of their list when team officials flew out to Puerto Rico to meet with him last week while other candidates traveled to Boston to interview for the opening.

It’s unclear at this point if Bloom would have preferred to bring in his own guy in Fuld and was overruled by club ownership on this particular decision. However, it is worth noting that before Cora initially left the Sox earlier this year, he and Bloom seemed to get along swimmingly during the latter’s first few months on the job as chief baseball officer.

Whoever may have made the final, bold decision on this matter, one thing is for certain: Cora is back managing the Red Sox, and he is likely here to stay.

Stay tuned for more in the days ahead.

Red Sox managerial search: Alex Cora, Sam Fuld viewed as finalists to land job

The Red Sox are entering the final stages of their weeks-long search for a new manager, and according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, former Red Sox manager Alex Cora and Phillies director of integrative baseball performan Sam Fuld are currently viewed as the favorites to land the job.

In addition to Heyman’s report, The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote earlier Thursday that the Red Sox have begun narrowing the field of potential candidates to five — Cora, Fuld, Marlins bench coach/offensive coordinator James Rowson, Yankes bench coach Carlos Mendoza, and Pirates bench coach Don Kelly — to three, “and by Thursday evening, the search process was believed to be down to no more than two finalists.”

Those two finalists in this case would be none other than Cora and Fuld; one of whom already has a rapport with Red Sox brass while the other does not.

Cora also has two years of major-league managerial experience with the Sox as compared to Fuld’s zero.

The 45-year-old led Boston to a World Series title in 2018 and a third-place finish in 2019 and was seemingly well-regarded by players and ownership alike.

However, as Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Houston Astros’ illegal stealing of signs unfolded over the winter, it was revealed that Cora, who served as A.J. Hinch’s manager in 2017, may have played an integral role in the Astros’ schemes.

As a result of said investigation, Cora and the Red Sox mutually agreed to part ways in January, approximately three months before he was handed down a one-year suspension for his actions in Houston.

By the time Cora’s season-long ban came to an end at the conclusion of this year’s World Series, he was almost immediately labeled as the favorite to retain his old position with the Red Sox.

Most recently, a party of club officials that included the likes of chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and general manager Brian O’Halloran flew to Puerto Rico last Friday to speak with Cora in-person about the managerial opening.

The fact this meeting took place may lead one to believe it is Cora’s job to lose at this point, but it would appear that Fuld is also being seriously considered, per Heyman.

Fuld, a native of Durham, N.H., has spent the past three seasons in the Phillies’ front office, first serving as major-league player information coordinator before being promoted to the club’s director of integrative baseball performance in January.

A veteran of eight major-league seasons, the soon-to-be 39-year-old’s playing career included a three-year stint with the Rays from 2011 through 2013.

In Tampa Bay, Fuld built a strong and “tight” relationship with Bloom when the latter served as an executive there, one in which could help his case for the Sox’ managerial opening.

While Cora and Fuld share many of the same qualities, such as their abilities to successfully utilize analytics and foster communication between players and front office staff, Cora may have the upper hand due to experience alone.

Cora has already ingrained himself within the Red Sox organization. Players such as J.D. Martinez and Christian Vazquez gush about him, ownership gushes about him, even Bloom seemed to get along with him in their short time together last offseason.

Fuld, meanwhile, is somewhat of a complete stranger to the organization outside of his connection with Bloom. That would not seem to bode well for him, but if finding Ron Roenicke’s successor is truly Bloom’s ‘call to make,’ Fuld would be an obvious fit if he wants to bring in his own guy.

Whether Bloom has final say in this decision or he will be overruled by the likes of John Henry, Tom Werner, and Sam Kennedy has yet to be determined. One thing is for certain, though, and that is the notion that the Red Sox’ search for their next manager is nearly complete.

As MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo alluded to, “Friday [is looking like] a potential decision day.” We will have to wait and see on that. I still say it’s Cora.

The latest on the Red Sox’ managerial search

With the White Sox and Tigers both landing their new managers in the forms of Tony La Russa and A.J. Hinch this week, the Red Sox currently stand as the only club in baseball with a vacancy at manager as the month of October comes to a close.

From what has been reported, the Sox have interviewed seven candidates — Will Venable, Don Kelly, Luis Urueta, Skip Schumaker, James Rowson, Mike Bell, Carlos Mendoza — to fill that opening, though former manager Alex Cora has been viewed as the favorite to return to his old post.

As it turns out, Boston has indeed been in contact with Cora since his one-year suspension ended on Tuesday following the conclusion of the World Series, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

On top of that, assistant general manager Eddie Romero told Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia Friday that the Red Sox do plan to speak to Cora about the position, while MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that the club will interview the 45-year-old within the “coming days.”

In that same tweet from Heyman, we also learn that Mendoza, currently the Yankees’ bench coach, and Kelly, who serves the same role for the Pirates, have gotten second interviews for the job, which have actually happened in-person.

While Heyman notes that other candidates may have been interviewed a second time as well, it is worth noting that all three of Urueta (Diamondbacks bench coach), Venable (Cubs third base coach), and Bell (Twins bench coach) are now out of the running for Boston’s managerial opening, per Speier and MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

With that in mind, the list of managerial candidates chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have composed to take over for the ousted Ron Roenicke can, at the moment, be narrowed down to Cora, Mendoza, Kelly, Schumaker (Padres associate manager), and Rowson (Marlins bench coach).

Of course, as Cotillo notes, these are just the names that have been leaked out. There still could be other candidates, such as Dodgers first base coach George Lombard and former major-league outfielder-turned-Phillies executive Sam Fuld, who the Sox have in mind and would like to speak to.

That being said, how Boston proceeds with their managerial search could very well make for an exciting weekend depending on how things play out from here. My guess is Cora is named manager by next Friday. We will have to wait and see on that, though.