Alex Cora's first season

Sep 13, 2006
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I would put Pedroia ninth to start, to work him in. He's coming back from knee surgery, so I'm not sure maximizing his PA should be the focus from the get go.

R Betts
L Benintendi
R Ramirez
R Martinez
L Devers
R Bogaerts
L Bradley
R/S Catcher
R Pedroia

Reevaluate as appropriate, but putting Pedroia's .366 career OBP in front of a guy who's been hitting for considerable power makes some sense anyways.
I like what you're doing here, nvalvo! I'm not 100% convinced that Pedey would agree, though. I hope Pedroia never becomes an ego issue the way Jeter did at the end of his career!
 

uncannymanny

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Tito was always great at the rest approach. I thought that Farrell had inherited it in 2013, but he obviously forgot all of it along the way.

As to the players, the down cycles of last year are progressing back to the mean, so it's not all about Cora. But some of it is, for certain.
I’d lean more towards his coaches making the big differences so far, but Cora hired them and beyond that he did a job setting expectations for the players, IMO.

Here's a look at how the pitching big dogs have been used this year compared to last year:
Good stuff, thanks for collating those. The Kimbrel numbers kind of surprised me, I thought they’d be lower too.

Good point. I assign Tito more integrity than Farrell, but Farrell was hardly the first manager to panic under the pressure of losing. He also panicked while they were winning the division, so yeah, time for a change.
No one knows Farrell’s “panic” level, this is ridiculous. He seemed to have DD’s support until the day he was let go, so I’m skeptical to say the least of this take. Given how 2011 shook out, maybe Tito should’ve managed his clubhouse in a more panicky way.
 

Hank Scorpio

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Beginning March 12th, the Sox won 9 in a row, lost one, then won another 5 in a row to close out spring training. They lost on opening day, won another 9 in a row, lost a game, and are currently on a 6 game winning streak... a run of 29-3. Too bad not all of those games count!
 

Pegleg

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Beginning March 12th, the Sox won 9 in a row, lost one, then won another 5 in a row to close out spring training. They lost on opening day, won another 9 in a row, lost a game, and are currently on a 6 game winning streak... a run of 29-3. Too bad not all of those games count!
Note also that Mookie started something like 0-14 (0-16?) and since then has batted around .450
 

EllisTheRimMan

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Both. I expect (hope) he will be more productive than Nunez has been but I just hope he buys in to what Cora is doing.
If Pedey doesn’t buy into what Cora is doing then he is not the player/team mate I’ve come to know and love for the past decade.

If this is one of the few pressing concerns of Sox fans then we’re in great shape.
 

Rovin Romine

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If Pedey doesn’t buy into what Cora is doing then he is not the player/team mate I’ve come to know and love for the past decade.

If this is one of the few pressing concerns of Sox fans then we’re in great shape.
I think Pedey is one of the few players it's "safe" to light just about any fire under. He'll just push himself to be better.
 

DeadlySplitter

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Pedey will start like 6th in the lineup, where Nunez roughly has been. maybe in front of Devers due to veteran status, but that's interchangeable.
 

ledsox

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The pregame Cora interview with Neverett yesterday was interesting. He talked about the hitters being more aggressive early in the count and eliminating "bad takes" (not swinging at crushable pitches).
He said he met with Mookie in the off season and told him he wanted him to swing more, be more aggressive. Mookie said "swing more?". Cora said yes, Mookie said OK. He mentioned the Astros book was to just get one over and get ahead in the count when facing Mookie.

Cora also mentioned that so far the team z-contact rate is excellent and the o-swing rate is very good (not swinging at balls). He said he's not good at math but that seems good to him.
 

JimD

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I love reading things like this:

In recounting how he has used an improved changeup to start the season 4-0 with a 1.40 ERA, Porcello unabashedly credits Cora, who called him the day after he was hired last November and talked to him for an hour about what he had noticed during Porcello’s disappointing season. High on Cora’s list of recommended adjustments: getting Porcello’s changeup straightened out.
https://www.bostonsportsjournal.com/2018/04/19/mcadam-cora-pushing-right-buttons-red-sox-off-historic-15-2-start/

I have no doubt that the personal touch of Cora reaching out to his players in the offseason combined with his intelligence in being able to use what he learned as a member of the Astros coaching staff has played a part in the team's immediate success (it probably didn't hurt that those Red Sox scouting reports were fresh on his mind when he interviewed and was eventually hired for the Boston job).
 

uncannymanny

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No. I’m saying that Cora has done his job and set a tone and a philosophy. The new coaches seem have done a much better job so far of executing that philosophy through their daily work with players.
 

Al Zarilla

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No. I’m saying that Cora has done his job and set a tone and a philosophy. The new coaches seem have done a much better job so far of executing that philosophy through their daily work with players.
That I can understand. Still lose a few games and the guys could start pressing, even the Mookenstein. I hope not, rather see a 1984 Tigers type season. Either way, one day at a time.
 

uncannymanny

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And that’s where it comes back to the part I mentioned above that the players themselves needed to fix, having fun and no one player needing to be “the guy” and fill papi’s shoes, etc.
 

joe dokes

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From what I've heard, players appreciate the advance knowledge of when they will have an off-day. Maybe it means they can have a little more fun the night before. I don't know but if that's the case, I have no problem with the way Cora is handling this.
Cora himself on how Cora is handling this. Not only does he not think sitting a hot guy is a bad thing, he thinks its a better thing:

Managers typically give their best players a day off when they fall into a slump, the assumption being the rest will do them good.
Alex Cora looks at it from a different angle. He counterintuitively believes a player in the middle of a hot streak can benefit from a seat on the bench.
That helps to explain why J.D. Martinez was out of the lineup for Friday night’s 7-3 win over the Oakland Athletics.
As bench coach of the Houston Astros last season, Cora saw that resting players such as Jose Altuve when they were hot at the plate helped to extend those streaks, not curtail them.
“For [Altuve], it was hard to accept the off days,” Cora said. “But with time he understood that there’s a lot of effort when you [get on base frequently]. It’s actually good when you’re hot.
“You’re going to be hot in two days. It’s not like because you don’t play today all of a sudden you’re going to lose it.
The Sox players have gotten used to the idea. Martinez went to Cora in the eighth inning of Thursday’s game and suggested Friday would be a good day for him to rest..
http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/redsox/2018/04/20/alex-cora-has-different-take-hot-streak/zuaq1iMsOuZa0bzOVkUGQI/story.html
 

OCST

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https://www.mlb.com/redsox/news/red-soxs-bats-more-agressive-under-alex-cora/c-272032564

This is the one thing about Cora that I enjoy the most.

The conventional wisdom since the Moneyball era about going deep into counts, seeing lots of pitches, grinding pitchers down, etc. - seems to have been taken for granted for so long. I remember lots of angst, here and elsewhere, about batters swinging early in counts when it was assumed that you shouldn't do that.

It's hard to argue with the results, obviously. As a fan, it's also fun to watch. This team is fun to watch. I have to admit that those 4 1/2 hour Sox-Yanks games had drained me.

I have no confidence that the baserunning problems will ever end, though. I think it's preordained that a Boston Red Sox team will always suck running the bases.
 

Buzzkill Pauley

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Cora himself on how Cora is handling this. Not only does he not think sitting a hot guy is a bad thing, he thinks its a better thing.
In 2016, it was pretty obvious to see how their respective hitting streaks had started to wear on both Bogaerts and Bradley, after about 12-15 games. So this seems like pretty good insight from a manager, I think.

And even more impressive is Cora’s ability to get hitters to buy into a very counterintuitive approach. Hitters make their coin on their numbers, after all....I can’t imagine Papi being really pleased about riding pine after hitting 2 bombs the day before.

In a way, maybe having neither Hanley nor JDM signed as “the DH” make this aspect of managing egos easier.
 

ledsox

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https://www.mlb.com/redsox/news/red-soxs-bats-more-agressive-under-alex-cora/c-272032564

This is the one thing about Cora that I enjoy the most.

The conventional wisdom since the Moneyball era about going deep into counts, seeing lots of pitches, grinding pitchers down, etc. - seems to have been taken for granted for so long. I remember lots of angst, here and elsewhere, about batters swinging early in counts when it was assumed that you shouldn't do that.

It's hard to argue with the results, obviously. As a fan, it's also fun to watch. This team is fun to watch. I have to admit that those 4 1/2 hour Sox-Yanks games had drained me.

I have no confidence that the baserunning problems will ever end, though. I think it's preordained that a Boston Red Sox team will always suck running the bases.
On baserunning. Do you watch other teams play because it needs to be stated again that the Sox were an above average baserunning team last year. Most extra bases taken and an excellent SB pct. Fangraphs had them ranked 10th in MLB as a team in their BsR stat. Yes, lots of outs on the bases but few were of the terrible variety. This year, with the small sample they are right n the middle of the pack ranked 15th. So not good now but overall not really bad relative to the league.

I think we all agree that the recent batting approach is a good thing. The other thing I really like about the Cora regime so far is all the communication that we can see happening in the dugout. Seems like all parties are connected and ideas are free flowing moreso than in the recent past. That's what I'm noticing anyway.
 

OCST

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On baserunning. Do you watch other teams play because it needs to be stated again that the Sox were an above average baserunning team last year. Most extra bases taken and an excellent SB pct. Fangraphs had them ranked 10th in MLB as a team in their BsR stat. Yes, lots of outs on the bases but few were of the terrible variety. This year, with the small sample they are right n the middle of the pack ranked 15th. So not good now but overall not really bad relative to the league.
I am partially tongue-in-cheek re: some of the higher-profile outs on the bases. I should have made the sarcasm clearer. I agree generally.
 

Reverend

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Cross posting from the game thread:

I love, love, love hearing the announcers discuss how great it is for players to learn they are hurt and take rest.

I 100% believe this is internally directed propaganda to renormalize expectations about dealing with injuries on the team and I 100% approve and I 100% love Cora for being on board with this approach.
It increasingly sounds to me like Cora is performing the role of tip-of-the-spear for getting the players to rethink their usage with respect to injuries, hot streaks, etc. in ways that I think have massive potential to be very, very positive.

And not just positive, but positive in ways that could save us fans a lot of frustration.

I'm am so down with this experiment.
 

uncannymanny

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I agree with the overall sentiment that this is refreshingly sound in strategy, but I’m still trying to get the propaganda part. You think this is coming from the FO and not the manager?
 

Reverend

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I agree with the overall sentiment that this is refreshingly sound in strategy, but I’m still trying to get the propaganda part. You think this is coming from the FO and not the manager?
I assume they're on the same page. The propaganda part is trying to keep the fans in the fold on what's going on so they don't freak out.
 

Adrian's Dome

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I think if the manager has gotten players to buy into sitting when they're legitimately hurt instead of trying to "tough it out", that's fantastic.

With that philosophy however, may come a time where a player may want to sit over something that isn't that big of a deal. I hope we never run into the issue, but...I guess what I'm saying is, it's a fine line to walk.

Still, MUCH preferred over clearly hobbled players desperately trying to perform when they clearly aren't capable (Moreland, last year.)
 
Sep 13, 2006
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I think if the manager has gotten players to buy into sitting when they're legitimately hurt instead of trying to "tough it out", that's fantastic. Still, MUCH preferred over clearly hobbled players desperately trying to perform when they clearly aren't capable (Moreland, last year.)
Apparently Xander isn't 100%. From the article linked below:

Bogaerts said his left ankle, which suffered a minor crack 19 days earlier, was still bothering him, but the Sox deemed him ready to return from the disabled list. “Feels like a needle, a couple of needles, but I mean it feels good enough to play,” he said. “But it feels like a couple of needles pinching, depending on the movement.”

http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/red_sox/2018/04/red_sox_notebook_xander_bogaerts_not_100_percent_but_back_at_shortstop_after
 

MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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There were a couple times last night where it looked like X grimaced - the throw from the knees, beating out the throw in the 9th.

I’m assuming it can’t be reinjured? Definitely runs counter to the Cora philosophy we’ve seen so far.
 

Yo La Tengo

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Despite Sandy Leon's ground ball this afternoon, I'm ready for Cora to pinch hit for catchers at key/late moments, especially when Mookie is on the bench.

Isn't that part of the justification/benefit of having Swihart on the bench?
 

geoduck no quahog

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Agree. That was my first anti-Cora moment this season.

There's no justification for tending to Leon's mindset at the expense of using Swihart with 2 outs and the game somewhat on the line.

I get that it's not worth injuring Betts to ph in 1 game in April. But Leon should not have been at the plate.

I know I'm wrong in hindsight, and that Sandy saved a couple of wild pitches and apparently has a good repor with Porcello, but his hitting in that situation...

Leon seems to be a better catcher than Vazquez. One of the should learn how to reliably hit.
 

CoffeeNerdness

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It'll be interesting to follow Pedroia's rehab and timeline. Doesn't really seem like they're 100% on the same page here.

Dustin Pedroia (knee) played three innings in an extended spring training game Friday.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Sunday that Pedroia "wants to play" and is "sending me videos to show me how much better he looks." However, the skipper also cautioned that Pedroia is essentially at the beginning of spring training and "there's no timetable" for his return. The veteran second baseman needed a cartilage restoration procedure in his left knee last October.
Dustin Pedroia (knee) told Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic that he hopes to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on May 12 and be activated on May 25.

When asked Monday about Pedroia's goals, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said it was news to him. "How many days does May have?" Cora said. "Put May 32nd. We’ll see. It’s a work in progress." While the team might not have a target date for a return like Pedroia does, the feeling for a while has been that late May/early June is likely. He's begun playing in extended spring training games.
http://www.rotoworld.com/recent/mlb/232/dustin-pedroia
 

The Gray Eagle

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I love the idea of giving players more rest and putting them on the DL when they are injured. Certainly a lot of players have had games off so far. But Nunez really seems to be a guy who is playing through injury yet he is in the lineup almost every day. He looks far slower than he did before injuring his knee and seems to be having a lot of trouble moving laterally in the field. Seems to me that he should at least be playing less, and playing less second base especially.

With Bogaerts back, Lin should be playing a lot of second base. Cora acknowledged that Nunez is not good at second base.

“He’s getting better. At least he’s making the routine play; that’s what we want. He’s catching it clean. He’s turned a few double plays,” manager Alex Cora said Sunday. “Nunez, he’s an offensive player, we know that.”
Cora acknowledged that the Sox are playing Nunez more than they would like.
“In a perfect world you’re moving him around and he likes that. . . . But as of now he’s playing second base for us,” Cora said. “We understand he’s going to struggle on a few plays. He works at it. He wants us to push him. We’ve been OK with him.”
"Nunez has little range, especially to his left, and has flubbed a few plays even when the shift put him in the right spot... Before he was traded to the Red Sox last July 26, Eduardo Nunez had started only 16 games at second base over eight seasons in the majors.

He has since started 45 games at that position for the Sox including 20 of the 27 games this season."

Weak use of tiny sample size defensive stats alert: "Nunez has cost the Sox five runs this season based on the Defensive Runs Saved statistic maintained by Baseball Info Solutions. That’s last among second basemen in the majors."

Another odd decision with injured players is the Pomeranz situation. In his first two starts his velocity has been down and he has not looked ready. In his first start, he could barely touch 90 with the fastball.

Who evaluated him in his rehab starts and said he was ready to pitch in the majors and didn't need more rehab? That wasn't on Cora, but the organization seems to have rushed Pomeranz back before he was ready, even though at the time both Velazquez and Johnson were pitching well in their starts.
 

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The next time Pedroia and his manager agree on when he should return from an injury will be the first. Pretty sure we heard the same thing with Francona and Farrell
 

curly2

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It was so great last night to see that Cora's focus was getting the team a win, and not the starting pitcher.

Maybe Rodriguez pitches a scoreless fifth and gets the W, but Cora was taking no chances with a struggling pitcher. It not a shot at E-Rod either. He'd pitched well his previous three starts, but it wasn't his night, and it's nice that the manager acted accordingly.
 

Al Zarilla

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Had to dig deep to find the Cora thread. Things must be going well. One thing Farrell did pretty well though was to manage, at least for some series, to have his best starters lined up to face the Yankees. Who knows what will happen, but Pom and Price in games 1 and 2 don’t inspire confidence right now. Maybe Cora doesn’t believe in jerking his pitchers around, or maybe he didn’t want to with the great start. We’ll see what happens.

Edit, another thought, lining up pitchers for a particular series has to be started early, maybe a week in advance, using days off if you have them. Maybe, again, things were going so well Cora didn't want to mess with it.
 
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Humphrey

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My only complaint with the guy would be this: if you have two regular catchers and they're not hitting all that well, why not pinch hit for the guy in the late innings of a close ballgame?
In past years, the reasoning was always "well, what if the sub gets injured?" and I can sure see the logic to that except in the most desperate of situations. But now, they have Swihart. Cora doesn't even need to put him in the game if he doesn't want to, but he's sitting there as insurance.
 

BestGameEvah

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Just heard a clip in the car of WEEI and Cora on last nights decisions.
Cora taking heat for letting JBJ bat.
He stated its not his decision <WHAT?>
That he needs to discuss it with his coaching staff.
 

RIrooter09

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Just heard a clip in the car of WEEI and Cora on last nights decisions.
Cora taking heat for letting JBJ bat.
He stated its not his decision <WHAT?>
That he needs to discuss it with his coaching staff.
He's delegating pinch hitting decisions to his coaching staff?
 

trekfan55

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Just heard a clip in the car of WEEI and Cora on last nights decisions.
Cora taking heat for letting JBJ bat.
He stated its not his decision <WHAT?>
That he needs to discuss it with his coaching staff.
The bigger problem is that he worked out. And once you have him on base and Betts on deck, why the hell would you let Vazquez hit there?

Now, I am as confused as I can be with the idea that it was not his decision to let Bradley hit.
 

drbretto

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Just heard a clip in the car of WEEI and Cora on last nights decisions.
Cora taking heat for letting JBJ bat.
He stated its not his decision <WHAT?>
That he needs to discuss it with his coaching staff.
Is it possible he means it's not JBJ's decision? I imagine it's easier to understand if you heard it in context.
 

grimshaw

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I heard it too - but took it to mean it was a coaching staff collaboration and not necessarily upper management meddling. FWIW - that's what Merloni thought as well.
 

Rovin Romine

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My only complaint with the guy would be this: if you have two regular catchers and they're not hitting all that well, why not pinch hit for the guy in the late innings of a close ballgame?
In past years, the reasoning was always "well, what if the sub gets injured?" and I can sure see the logic to that except in the most desperate of situations. But now, they have Swihart. Cora doesn't even need to put him in the game if he doesn't want to, but he's sitting there as insurance.
I'd second this. Moreland was on the bench along with Swihart and Leon. (I assume they were all available?)

Unless there's some funky individual matchup stuff going on, you PH for the #9 Vaz at this point, with a hit or a walk bringing Mookie to the plate. The only question is - who would have the best OBP against Chapman? If the answer isn't Vaz, then it's a poor decision.
 

Adrian's Dome

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I'd second this. Moreland was on the bench along with Swihart and Leon. (I assume they were all available?)

Unless there's some funky individual matchup stuff going on, you PH for the #9 Vaz at this point, with a hit or a walk bringing Mookie to the plate. The only question is - who would have the best OBP against Chapman? If the answer isn't Vaz, then it's a poor decision.
Moreland isn't a great matchup on Chapman being L on L, but I'd still have a lot more confidence in him than Vaz in that situation. Given that Swihart is a switch hitter and a direct positional replacement, they must truly believe he's got nothing to offer if he doesn't PH there, especially with another catcher on the bench behind him.