Red Sox

John Henry 'had every intention' to keep Alex Cora, until this possibility arose

John Henry 'had every intention' to keep Alex Cora, until this possibility arose

With Alex Cora at the center of MLB's rapidly-developing sign-stealing scandal, the Boston Red Sox opted to part ways with their manager on Tuesday. 

It wasn't an easy decision for Red Sox ownership to make. In fact, John Henry and Co. weren't going to cut bait with Cora until a nightmare scenario was brought to their attention.

NBC Sports Boston's own Gary Tanguay reported Thursday on Early Edition that Henry planned on keeping Cora as manager until the possibility that the organization's 2018 World Series title might get vacated.

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Tanguay explained in more detail:

John Henry had every intention to keep Alex Cora as the Red Sox manager, despite Cora's impending suspension from Major League Baseball. When the possibility arose that the Red Sox could be stripped of their 2018 World Series title, the owner threw him out of the boat. The owner gave up his manager. He was the sacrificial lamb. The Red Sox and the Astros are nervous they could lose their championships. Lot of anxiety at Fenway Park, I was told.

The Red Sox said in their official statement that Cora and the team "mutually agreed" to part ways. 

Cora played a major role in the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal during his time as their bench coach in 2017. His dismissal from the Red Sox came on the heels of the Astros firing manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow.

MLB's investigation into the 2018 Red Sox' alleged sign-stealing is ongoing. 

How Red Sox will approach hiring their next manager

Incredible stat shows how historically awful Red Sox starting pitching has been

Incredible stat shows how historically awful Red Sox starting pitching has been

When the 2019 MLB season started, the defending World Series champion Red Sox boasted an impressive rotation.

Perennial Cy Young contender Chris Sale. Former Cy Young winners David Price and Rick Porcello. World Series hero Nathan Eovaldi. Eduardo Rodriguez, who would go on to win 19 games.

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But the 2020 Sox rotation is a far cry from that collection of talent. 

Instead, with Sale sidelined with Tommy John surgery, Price and Porcello on different teams, and Rodriguez out for the season with myocarditis, the Sox have been forced to rely on a flotsam and jetsam rotation that has been exposed as not MLB-worthy.

Through 11 games, the Red Sox have already used seven starting pitchers, and they've combined to allow a whopping 32 earned runs in 42.2 innings pitched, often putting the Sox in early deficits they've been unable to overcome. It all adds up to a 6.75 ERA, which isn't just bad; it's actually on pace to be the worst starting rotation in the last 120 years, according to Boston Sports Info.

Only Nathan Eovaldi with a 3.94 ERA in three starts and Austin Brice, who pitched one scoreless inning in his only start of the season as an opener, have ERAs below 5.00, while Josh Osich, Ryan Weber, Matt Hall and Zack Godley all have ERAs of 9-plus.

Pitcher ERA as starter
Austin Brice 0.00
Nathan Eovaldi 3.94
Martin Perez 5.06
Josh Osich 9.00
Matt Hall 10.13
Ryan Weber 11.57
Zack Godley 13.50

And with the supposedly strong Boston offense underachieving through 11 games, it's no wonder the team is off to a horrific 3-8 start, the 28th best record out of 30 MLB teams. If that starting pitching doesn't turn around — and turn around quickly — the Red Sox are in danger of digging a hole that will be too deep to climb out of in a shortened 60-game season.

Ex-Red Sox not named Mookie Betts off to lackluster starts across MLB

Ex-Red Sox not named Mookie Betts off to lackluster starts across MLB

Chaim Bloom had no choice but to deal Mookie Betts. The rest of the players he walked away from this winter were of his own volition, however, and on that front, it looks like he made some good calls.

Bloom elected to keep first baseman Mitch Moreland, who has already blasted three homers while slugging .762.

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Here's a quick check-in with the four others who played a regular role in recent years but are now elsewhere. (And Betts, for the record, is hitting .289 with an .880 OPS, though he has missed two games with a finger injury).

David Price

Bloom traded Price to the Dodgers alongside Betts in a salary dump. We won't know if he made the right call until Price returns to action next season, because he became the highest-profile player to opt out of the 2020 season after the pandemic hit.

That decision likely saved the Red Sox the roughly $6 million they owed of his prorated salary this year. Had he remained in Boston, there's no reason to think he still wouldn't have opted out, so the Red Sox were lucky to get something for him first.

Rick Porcello

Hoo boy. The Mets gave Porcello one year and $10 million, and some believed the Red Sox should've ponied up to keep him, figuring his reliability could help patch the holes in a thin rotation. Bloom thought otherwise, and two starts into Porcello's Mets career, it's hard to argue.

Porcello allowed seven runs in two innings in his debut, and wasn't much better in his second start on Friday in Atlanta, allowing four runs in four innings. He's sitting on a 13.50 ERA that would fit perfectly in Boston, unfortunately.

Brock Holt

The fan favorite utility guy languished for most of the winter before agreeing to a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Brewers. Bloom decided to allocate those resources instead to Jose Peraza, who is now the team's starting second baseman.

Holt has barely gotten off the bench in Milwaukee, going 0 for 4 in four appearances. At age 32, his best days are likely behind him. The 26-year-old Peraza has slumped badly since a four-hit debut, but he's a far superior defender at second and short.

Sandy Leon

Outside of a couple of good weeks in 2016, Leon is what he is offensively. Currently, that's a .105 hitter with the Indians.

He effectively traded roles in December with former Cleveland backup Kevin Plawecki, who's off to a 4-for-10 start that helped make two-time All-Star Jonathan Lucroy expendable.