Two of baseball’s highest profile team will be breaking in rookie managers next season.
The Red Sox announced Sunday they had hired Astros bench coach Alex Cora to replace the deposed John Farrell, while a variety of reports indicate that the Mets have settled on Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway to take over for Terry Collins.
Let’s start in Boston, where the Red Sox landed the man every team with a managerial vacancy seemed to be after. Cora played 14 seasons for six Major League teams (including the Sox) and developed a reputation as one of the sharpest guys in baseball. Since retiring in 2011, he has called game for ESPN and ESPN Deportes and, most recently, served as bench coach for the World Series-bound Astros. His hire had been reported for days but was not made official until Sunday afternoon.
Cora, 42, is young, smart, well-liked and bilingual, leading to a widespread belief that he’ll be the type of clubhouse-soothing players manager Farrell sometimes was not. He’ll take over a team that has won back-to-back AL East titles but struggled with some internal turmoil, from David Price’s feud with the media to the infamous Apple Watch incident.
The 47th manager of the Boston #RedSox, Alex Cora!
— Red Sox (@RedSox) October 22, 2017
As of this writing, the Mets have still not announced their hire of Callaway, but the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported the news Sunday, and it has since been confirmed by an army of reporters.
Callaway, like Cora, is a 42-year-old with no managerial experience but an impressive reputation across baseball. He played in the Majors from 1999-2004 and returned from a brief career overseas to coach in the Indians’ organization. He was promoted to Cleveland pitching coach in 2013 and has helped bring along stars such as Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Cody Allen.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona has lauded Callaway’s touch with the pitching staff.
Here's what Francona had to say about Mickey Callaway after their season ended. pic.twitter.com/PRDRtVNSXN
— T.J. Zuppe (@TJZuppe) October 22, 2017
Given his pitching background, Callaway seems like an obvious fit for a Mets team still built around its star hurlers. Though health remains the biggest obstacle to the Mets’ rotation fulfilling (or even approaching) its potential, Callaway should be able to manage the Mets’ staff more delicately than his predecessor did.
With these hires, the Mets and Red Sox both seem to be compromising between the recent trend of freshly retired players with little or no managerial or coaching experience (Craig Counsell, Brad Ausmus, Andy Green, etc.) and the old-school types who have quickly gone out of style. Neither Cora nor Callaway is entirely new to making (or at least contributing to) tough decisions, but both figure to bring youthful energy and an openness to the analytics their respective front offices will pass down.
Both Cora and Callaway reportedly received three-year deals, and it might take at least that duration to determine whether they were the right choices. But for now, on Day One, Mets and Red Sox fans have plenty of reason to dream big.