The Red Sox made only one major move in the offseason, and it came in the dugout rather than on the field. Alex Cora is the new manager after John Farrell's dismissal, and it's his first time as skipper of a major league team. So to be sure, he's a bit of a wild card.
As far as how Cora will manage the Red Sox - namely, how he'll handle the players in the clubhouse - he's still figuring that out. Speaking to reporters for the first time at spring training in Fort Myers, Cora sounded like a manager still finding his voice.
"I’ve been here for a week, and I’ve been going back and forth on how to address the team,” said Cora, via NESN. "Do I wait for everybody to be here? Do I talk to the pitchers and catchers tomorrow? I don’t know. My style is yet to be determined."
What Alex Cora Needs To Do
The way Cora addresses his players will be paramount to the Red Sox' success in 2018. They're certainly a playoff contender, but significant questions remain about their chances of getting past the Houston Astros in the American League. Likewise, the Yankees made a major addition to the roster in Giancarlo Stanton while the Red Sox' lineup will be virtually identical to 2017.
So the hope is that Cora can tap into the potential that the Red Sox' young talent has yet to reach. Mookie Betts wasn't bad last season, but the hope is that he hits closer to his 2016 numbers. Xander Bogaerts' power dropped off in 2017 and he's running out of time to blossom in Boston. Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers could be the keys to the offense improving in the power department, but may not yet be the kind of lineup anchors that the Red Sox can depend on consistently.
Ultimately, Cora's handling of these key players will be the biggest factor in the Red Sox' quest to elevate from an AL East contender to an LCS contender. That's clearly the bet that Dave Dombrowski is making for the 2018 season. Hopefully Cora figures out his style sooner rather than later, and it pays off.
-- By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].