BALTIMORE – As the Red Sox wrapped up another disappointing season, manager Alex Cora sat in the visitors’ dugout at Camden Yards and got introspective.
For the second straight season, the Red Sox finished in last place in the American League East. In 2022, it was to the tune of a 78-84 record. In spring training, Cora vowed 2023 would be different. After a 6-1 win over the Orioles on Sunday, the Red Sox finished with an identical 78-84 mark.
“At the end of the day, we’re disappointed,” he said. “A lot of people thought that we were going to finish last and they were right, we finished last.”
The Red Sox failed on multiple levels throughout 2023, from defense to starting pitching to overall consistency. The lack of results cost chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom his job two weeks ago, and while Cora was told by ownership last week in a sit-down meeting that he would be back next year as manager, he knows he, too, has failed too often of late.
“We have finished (last) the last two years. I have to be better. I have to improve,” said Cora, who completed his fifth season as manager. “The vote of confidence is great, but what are we doing? What am I doing to put these guys in a situation to be successful? I always said that you don’t only learn in losing situations, you learn from winning situations. But as an individual, I’ve got to be realistic. I feel like I haven’t done my job the last two years. I have to improve in a lot of things. I’ll keep that personal, that’s for me. I’m working on it. But I will be working on it in the offseason. And hopefully next year we get better results.”
Cora said no decisions have been made yet on the rest of the coaching staff, but he will remain in Boston for at least the next week, sitting down with various leaders in the organization to find ways to improve the overall process.
There had been some speculation Cora might be interested in pursuing the role of Red Sox head of baseball operations, but he has since quashed that notion. On Sunday, Cora added further context, noting that in his meeting with ownership last week, he told them he doesn’t feel ready to fill a GM-type role yet.
“I was very honest with the front office, John (Henry) and Tom (Werner) and Mike (Gordon) and said, I’m not ready to do that,” he said. “If I felt that I think I can do that job I would probably tell them, ‘Hey, I would like to be part of the process — or not the process, but one of the candidates. But I’m not ready for that.”
Cora has often said he doesn’t plan to remain in a managerial role for decades like Terry Francona or Tony La Russa. That said, he feels he has more to accomplish as a manager and isn’t ready for a front office move.
Still, there’s no mistaking that Cora has been and continues to be an important voice in decision-making within the organization and he knows he’s fallen short too often lately. Cora isn’t waiting until the next head of baseball operation is in place to start peeling back the layers of what exactly has gone wrong the last few years. As ownership searches for its next leader, Cora is trying to get a jump start on the root of the organizational issues.
“In the meantime, I think we have to be very honest with our program,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that we have to improve for these guys to be better. Conversations are going right now we’re going to have a big meeting (Monday). I’m going to spend some time in Boston talking to a lot of people and including people from player development and analytics and all of that just to have a better understanding of how we’re doing things from the Dominican Summer League all the way to Triple A and obviously what we are doing here to match up with that.
“We just got to make a conscious effort of improving. Finishing last, it doesn’t play here,” he added. “We’ve finished last back-to-back years and we can talk about ‘18 all we want. The magical run in ‘21 or ‘07 or ‘04 or ‘13. We’ve got to turn the page, man. That’s gone. We have to move forward. Yeah, we got some pieces that are in place for us to be better in the future, but we have to improve.”
(Photo: Mitch Stringer / USA TODAY)