By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Amidst The Season That Never Was, maybe we’ve simply neglected the most obvious question about the uncertain future of the Red Sox.
Who will lead them?
In case you missed it – and we’re talking about the entire 2020 Boston baseball season now – the Red Sox will wrap up their schedule this weekend with a three-game series in Atlanta. Earlier this week, manager Ron Roenicke was asked whether he had spoken yet with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom about his own future – and Roenicke said no. The manager then indicated he may speak with Bloom in Atlanta, where everyone expects the same outcome.
Roenicke is out – and through no fault of his own. How the Red Sox ended up with him in the manager’s office was essentially unavoidable, even before the pandemic. Once COVID-19 also hit, well, the season all but became a lost cause.
And let’s make this clear: Roenicke deserves hazard pay. If the Red Sox are smart, they’ll give Roenicke some type of parting sweetener for having to endure the worst, most forgettable and downright thankless season in team history. Roenicke was the one who had to answer questions everyday about the joke that was the Red Sox pitching staff, and he had to do it without making anybody look bad.
He didn’t just take the bullet.
He took several.
Where the Red Sox go from here will be interesting – and it will tell us a great deal about the operating structure of the organization. Alex Cora was here before Bloom and bringing him back would be an easy, appealing move for ownership and upper management. But he wouldn’t be perceived as Bloom’s guy, whether Bloom really wanted him or not. If the Red Sox want a clean break from the Dombrowski years, Bloom would hire someone completely different, from the outside, someone with whom he can start his own bond.
The downside? Cora seemed to get the best out of, among others, Xander Bogaerts, who can opt out of his contract at the end of the 2022 season. (Keeping Bogaerts happy is a priority, especially in the wake of the Mookie Betts breakup.) Ditto for Eduardo Rodriguez and Rafael Devers, who blossomed under Cora. If the Red Sox want to compete sooner rather than later, Cora might be the smartest, safest pick, even if the Red Sox have to deal with the stain of the Houston Astros cheating scandal.
Here’s another reason Cora makes sense, as much as it might seem unimportant to many: the fan base generally liked him. He had presence. He conveyed leadership. Nobody speaks to the Red Sox fan base more than the manager of the team, and the Red Sox could use a manager who can immediately reconnect with their fans after what really amounts to two lost seasons.
So what will Bloom do? Good question. But the wheels will likely start spinning within a matter of days if not hours. And by Monday morning, the Red Sox will have officially shut the door on the 2020 season and turned to 2021, where a long list of questions await them.
Starting, of course, with the one at the very top.