Red Sox

John Henry on Red Sox hiring Alex Cora: 'We needed change'

John Henry on Red Sox hiring Alex Cora: 'We needed change'

BOSTON — Alex Cora is here and John Farrell is not because there was a prevailing feeling at the end of the season that the Red Sox needed change, owner John Henry said on Monday.

THE RED SOX HIRE ALEX CORA

“We didn't just change managers,” Henry said after Cora’s introductory press conference at Fenway Park. “I think when the end of the season came, we were all of the mind that we needed change. Sometimes an organization benefits from change. We decided that the organization would benefit. John had a tremendous tenure here; back-to-back division championships is a really difficult thing. Sometimes you want change not just because of your results but there's a time and a place for it. We thought this was really the right time.”

Henry and Red Sox chairman Tom Werner were coincidentally in New York when the Red Sox interviewed Cora during the postseason, Henry said. So they were a part of the interview as well. 

"Interview processes are limited,” Henry said. “It doesn't matter what industry you're in, but it's obviously, we left there really impressed with Alex's philosophy: the way he broke down our team and his team, the things he had to say with regard to what he thought he could bring."

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said seven people were part of the interview process in all. Dombrowski's hiring of Tony La Russa didn't strongly suggest Dombrowski was on the lookout for the newest ideas, but to his credit, he had a wide range of people involved in Cora's hiring.

"They were all very thorough," Dombrowski said. "I thought it was important to have a mixture of individuals there, people from scouting and front office perspective. Also then having somebody like [vice president for baseball research and development Zack Scott] from the analytical perspective. And I wanted [vice president of player personnel] Jared Banner, a lot of people don’t know Jared he’s a very sharp baseball but he’s much younger, [at age 31], so I thought it was good to get perspective of all different ages in there. And when we got done we would sit down and visit and talk about it and everybody said at that point if somebody else is going to be our manager after this, they’re going to be outstanding because all of us felt so good about our meeting with Alex."

Henry said he wanted the best man, not the best man of a certain ethnicity. Henry is the first owner in Red Sox history to hire a minority as manager, with Cora hailing from Puerto Rico. On Monday, Henry said he was not seeking out anyone but the best available candidate.

“How significant is it?” Henry said when asked about hiring the team’s first minority manager. “In my mind, it did not play a role. We chose the best man. We weren't looking to make a statement; we were looking to do the best thing for the organization.”

Cora held up the Puerto Rican flag during his press conference with Dombrowski, thanking Dombrowski for the team’s relief efforts following Hurricane Maria’s devastation. The Sox said they collected money and sent some supplies.

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

mlb_rob_manfred_081414.jpg

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

cy_young_corey_kluber_chris_sale_111517.jpg

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

Max Scherzer heard his name and thrust his arms in the air, shouting and smiling big before turning to kiss his wife.

Corey Kluber, on the other hand, gulped once and blinked.

Two aces, two different styles - and now another Cy Young Award for each.

The animated Scherzer of the Washington Nationals coasted to his third Cy Young, winning Wednesday for the second straight year in the National League. He breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Kluber's win was even more of a runaway. The Cleveland Indians ace took 28 first-place votes, easily outpacing Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox for his second AL Cy Young.

Scherzer yelled "yes!" when his award was announced on MLB Network, a reaction in keeping with his expressive reputation. He showed that intensity often this year, whether he was cursing under his breath like a madman during his delivery or demanding - also with expletives - that manager Dusty Baker leave him in the game.

Just a little different than the pitcher they call "Klubot." Kluber was stoic as ever when announced as the AL winner. He swallowed hard but otherwise didn't react, only showing the hint of a smile moments later when answering questions.

Not that he wasn't thrilled.

"Winning a second one maybe, for me personally, kind of validates the first one," Kluber said.

Scherzer's win moves him into rare company. He's the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs, and among the other nine, only Kershaw and Roger Clemens aren't in the Hall of Fame.

"That's why I'm drinking a lot of champagne tonight," Scherzer said.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit.

"This one is special," he said. "When you start talking about winning three times, I can't even comprehend it at this point."

Scherzer was 16-6 with a career-best 2.51 ERA this year. The 33-year-old righty struck out a league-leading 268 for the NL East champion Nationals, and in an era noted for declining pitcher durability, he eclipsed 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He had to overcome a variety of ailments to get there, and Washington's training staff was high on his thank-you list.

"Everybody had a role in keeping me out on the field," he said. "I'm very thankful for all their hard work."

Kershaw has won three NL Cy Youngs and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts. This is his second runner-up finish. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals finished third.

Kluber missed a month of the season with back pain and still easily won the AL award over Sale and third-place finisher Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA, and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball. He added to the Cy Young he won with the Indians in 2014 and is the 19th pitcher to win multiple times.

The 31-year-old Kluber was especially dominant down the stretch, closing out the season by going 11-1 to help Cleveland win the AL Central. He and Minnesota's Ervin Santana tied for the major league lead with five complete games - nobody else had more than two. Kluber also led the majors with 8.0 wins above replacement, per baseball-reference.com.

Kluber and Scherzer both had rough outings in the playoffs. Kluber gave up nine runs over two starts in an AL Division Series against the Yankees, and Scherzer blew a save in the decisive Game 5 of an NL Division Series against the Cubs.

Scherzer said he couldn't even watch the League Championship Series, although he did tune in for the World Series.

"That will eat at me this whole offseason," he said.

Voting for the awards was completed before the postseason began.

The final BBWAA honors will come Thursday when the MVP awards are announced in the AL and NL.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE