I could see the Boston Red Sox firing manager Ron Roenicke if the main criterion was length of bad games (they average 3:20 in TOG in all games, and not just the death marches they like to play with the Yankees). I could also see it if John Henry were planning to replace him with Jürgen Klopp, who is making him boathouses of money with Liverpool.
But to fire him just because he failed to make a room full of designer gowns out of the oily rags provided him, or because the franchise needed to look like they were doing something, or just, as is often the case, FTHOI (for the hell of it), is the sign of a bad operation trying to pretend it has a World Series contender that was mishandled by a temp worker.
In other words, ladies and gentlemen, we give you Alex Cora II: Because That’s Just How It Plays.
The dismissal and retention of baseball managers has never been based on dodgier grounds, since fewer and fewer of them actually get to run their own games. Baseball Reference needs to get on this as a statistical matter, but Roenicke, who was hired when Cora was suspended for being in the dugout when the Astros and Red Sox were working the cheat codes, never had a chance. He had a bad team other than Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Alex Verdugo, who was part of the return for the Babe-Ruth-level Mookie Betts disaster, and 40 percent of Mitch Moreland. The pitching never exceeded god-awful level, and they ended up finishing behind everyone except the sub-god-awful Texas Rangers.
But that was pretty much the expectation going in, and had Cora not had the pamphlet thrown at him he would have led this merry band to, ohh, 24-35 rather than 23-36. After all, the EOAPR (Earrings On A Pig Ratio) metric would have leveled any manager. Players play, and in this case they played down to their level.
In short, Ron Roenicke got handed a worse version of the hot mess Dusty Baker signed on for Houston, and now Cora is almost sure to return as though nothing but him missing a bastardized year of bad baseball was the consequence of MLB shaming him as the closest available target a year ago. Ron Roenicke got the press-release middle fingers of “consistency and professionalism” and “a man of the highest character,” but they were middle fingers nonetheless.
But look at the bright side. Maybe it is going to be Jürgen Klopp after all. Nothing against Alex Cora one way or another; I mean, if the fix was always in, it was always in. But if Klopp happens, then John Henry is a genius-level crackpot rather than just your run-of-the-mill scapegoating blockhead.