Boston Red Sox Rehire Alex Cora as the Team’s Manager

Alex Cora is back in Boston…

The Boston Red Sox have rehired the team’s 45-year-old Puerto Rican former manager,.

Alex Cora

Cora led the Red Sox to the 2018 World Series title but mutually agreed to part with the club amid the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. He was suspended for one season by Major League Baseball for his role in the scandal.

Boston, which ended the 60-game shortened season with a 24-36 record, decided not to retain manager Ron Roenicke, who replaced Cora in January after serving on his coaching staff.

The Red Sox were not allowed to speak to Cora until after the World Series, which ended October 27. The lack of activity before then was a sign that they were focused on Cora.

Cora agreed to a two-year contract that has a two-year team option for 2023 and ’24, the team said.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to manage once again and return to the game I have loved my entire life,” Cora said in a statement released by the team. “This past year, I have had time to reflect and evaluate many things, and I recognize how fortunate I am to lead this team once again. Not being a part of the game of baseball, and the pain of bringing negative attention to my family and this organization was extremely difficult. I am sorry for the harm my past actions have caused and will work hard to make this organization and its fans proud. …

“Boston is where I have always wanted to be and I could not be more excited to help the Red Sox achieve our ultimate goal of winning in October.”

The team he returns to bears little resemblance to the one he last managed.

Chaim Bloom is running the baseball side now, taking over last offseason just in time to part ways with Cora. He welcomed Cora back in a team statement Friday.

“Alex Cora is an outstanding manager, and the right person to lead our club into 2021 and beyond,” Bloom said. “The way he leads, inspires, and connects with everyone around him is almost unmatched, and he has incredible baseball acumen and feel for the game. …

“Because of all that had happened, I knew that I wanted to speak with Alex once his suspension ended, but I didn’t yet know if it made sense to consider him for the job as well. Our conversations were lengthy, intense, and emotional. Alex knows that what he did was wrong, and he regrets it. … He loves the Red Sox and the game of baseball, and because of that we believe he will make good on this second chance.”

Bloom’s other big move last offseason was to trade 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with David Price as part of an effort to get the Red Sox under the threshold for baseball’s competitive balance tax.

With Betts and Price gone, Chris Sale out with Tommy John surgery and Eduardo Rodriguez recovering from a COVID-19-related heart problem, the Red Sox finished in last place in the AL East.

But Cora also has hope for improvement in the 2021 season.

Sale is expected to return in the first half. J.D. Martinez, an MLB All-Star his first two years in Boston before struggling in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, is also under contract for at least one more year.

And the Red Sox have plenty of salary flexibility gained in the deal that sent Betts and Price to Los Angeles.

Cora replaced John Farrell as Boston’s manager after the team twice finished last under Farrell, despite winning the 2013 World Series with him. With Cora at the helm in 2018, the Red Sox raced to a 108-54 regular-season record and an easy win in the AL East. They led the majors with a .268 team batting average and 876 runs scored.

Boston then dominated the postseason with an 11-3 mark, posting wins over the Yankees and Astros in the AL division and championship series, respectively, before defeating the Dodgers in the World Series.

The Red Sox couldn’t sustain 2018’s success in Cora’s second season, finishing 84-78 and third in the division, 19 games behind the Yankees.

Cora, who worked as an ESPN analyst before leaving for the Astros, played 14 MLB seasons, including parts of four seasons with the Red Sox, winning the 2007 World Series with Boston. He also played for the Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets and Texas Rangers before finishing his career with the Washington Nationals in 2011.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Earns Second Career Silver Slugger Award

There’s certainly a silver lining for Ronald Acuna Jr. 

The 22-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player is among four Atlanta Braves players to earn Silver Slugger Awards, which were unveiled Thursday by Major League Baseball in honor of the best offensive players at every position in each league.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Winning from the Braves were Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna, who each won the award for the second time, and first-time winner Travis d’Arnaud.

The Chicago White Sox led the American League with three Silver Sluggers: shortstop Tim Anderson, left fielder Eloy Jimenez and first baseman Jose Abreu, who won the award for the third time after batting .317 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs.

It was the first honor for both Anderson and Jimenez.

Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout received his eighth Silver Slugger Award after batting .281 with 17 home runs and 46 RBIs this season.

2020 Silver Slugger Winners

POS. AL NL
C Salvador Perez, Royals Travis d’Arnaud, Braves
1B Jose Abreu, White Sox Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B DJ LeMahieu, Yankees Donovan Solano, Giants
SS Tim Anderson, White Sox Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
3B Jose Ramírez, Indians Manny Machado, Padres
OF Mike Trout, Angels Juan Soto, Nationals
OF Eloy Jimenez, White Sox Mookie Betts, Dodgers
OF Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
DH Nelson Cruz, Twins Marcell Ozuna, Braves

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez rounded out the American League winners.

World Series champion and Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, San Francisco Giants second baseman Donovan Solano and San Diego Padres teammates Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado completed the National League list.

Selections are based on a combination of offensive stats, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, in addition to the managers’ and coaches’ views of a player’s overall offensive value.

Wonderfilm Media Developing Biopic About Tampa Bay Rays’ Breakout Star Randy Arozarena

Randy Arozarena’s life story is headed to the big screen…

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder and Tampa Bay Rays rookie, who broke the MLB record for most home runs and hits in a single postseason, will be the focus of a biopic from Wonderfilm Media.

Randy Arozarena

Arozarena, the Rays’ breakout star, came from Cuba and fueled his team’s run to the World Series, which eventually went to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.

Brad Gann, the screenwriter of the Mark Wahlberg-led Invincible and a co-writer of pro surfer Bethany Hamilton biopic Soul Surfer, will write the screenplay.

Arozarena’s story is inspiring. He escaped Cuba on a makeshift boat, landed in Mexico, and started a new life there before making his way to the U.S. and eventually, his Major League Baseball debut in 2017.

Arozarena currently holds the MLB record for most home runs in a single postseason with 10. In his rookie postseason, Arozarena broke Barry Bonds’ record for most home runs as well as Derek Jeter’s record for most hits by a rookie. He was also named MVP of the ALCS.

Randy Arozarena Named American League Championship Series MVP After Hitting Four Homers vs. Houston Astros

Randy Arozarena is the man of  the hour…

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder continued his historic postseason run on Saturday with his seventh homer, a two-run shot in the first inning that gave theTampa Bay Rays a lead it never relinquished against the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.

Randy Arozarena

Arozarena was named MVP of the ALCS, becoming the fourth rookie — and first rookie position player — to be named MVP of a league championship series.

He has homered seven times during this year’s playoffs, just one shy of the Major League Baseball record, and now has 47 total bases since the regular season ended.

Tampa Baywill now head to the World Series after holding off baseball’s most infamous team. The Rays beat the Astros 4-2 in Game 7, ending Houston’s bid to become the second team in baseball history to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a postseason series.

“It goes without saying this has been a weird year,” Rays Game 7 starter — and winner — Charlie Morton said. “It was pretty apparent early on the guys had bought into each other during this time.

“It was very challenging, because at first everything was about the protocols and trying to keep guys safe. Just guys come onto the field every day, knowing they could get sick, and staff coming in, and just a ton of work by people behind the scenes. I am so proud of these guys.”

The formula for the Rays is consistency, and it was very much evident in Game 7. They stifle the opposition. They catch the ball on defense. And they ride just enough home runs on offense to bring home the win.

The Rays now head to their second World Series in franchise history. The last time they played in the Fall Classic was in 2008, when they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Tampa Bay entered the first 16-team playoff format in baseball history with a 40-20 record, tops in the AL, and thus earned the Junior Circuit’s No. 1 seed. That top seed held up, even though the Rays had to recover from losing three straight to Houston after winning the first three contests.

“Pretty special feeling,” Cash said. “I don’t know if I’ve had many better [moments] other than getting married and having three kids. This is right there below that. It can’t get much better than that. This is a special group to be a part of.”

For Houston, it was an emotional loss after a tumultuous season for the organization. The Astros were embroiled in a sign-stealing scandal last winter that tainted their 2017 World Series title and cost manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow their jobs.

“The legacy of this group is that these guys are ballplayers,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “These guys are men; they have been through a whole bunch other than on the ballfield. [Now] these guys can forget the problems they had that is out there and come together as a group and be forever friends.”

Hinch’s replacement, the 71-year-old Baker, helped restore some of the goodwill the Astros squandered. But with the Game 7 loss, Baker is still looking for the first championship of a managerial career that began in 1993. Yet, in 2020, there was much more that was brought into perspective.

“You go home and you regroup,” Baker said. “Personally, when I think of [former MLB executive Jimmie Lee Solomon, whose] funeral was today, and you think about the many friends I have lost over the last month, six months. That is the reality of life. Those are far greater losses than losing a ballgame.”

Deivi Garcia to Become Youngest Pitcher to Start a Playoff Game in New York Yankees’ Postseason History

Deivi Garcia is set to make baseball history…

The 21-year-old Dominican-born professional baseball player will start in Game 2 of the American League Divisional Series between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night, making him the youngest pitcher to start a playoff game in Yankees’ postseason history and the 5th-youngest in AL postseason history, per ESPN Stats Info.

It’s a bold stroke for manager Aaron Boone. Garcia made just six starts during the regular season in his first taste of MLB action. Garcia held his own, going 3-2 with a 4.98 ERA/4.15 FIP and 8.7 K/9 to 1.6 BB/9. His command was particularly impressive, never having limited free passes at such a stringent rate at any point in his minor league career when it’s typical for young players to struggle more with their command upon promotion to the big league.

“We deliberated on that a lot over the last several days,” Boone said ahead of Game 1 of the ALDS at Petco Park. “Masa [Masahiro Tanaka] will now go in Game 3. So just like slot and Deivi in between Cole and Masa was the way we wanted to go.

“I think the way he’s pitched, and the way he’s handled himself and handled every situation so far. I felt like I wanted to go this way a couple days ago but wanted to continue to flesh it out because we could. Ultimately today, this morning, decided this the way I wanted to go. I just felt [we had] a lot of good options there, [different] ways we could have gone. I don’t worry about him not being able to handle it, mentally, emotionally and all those things and I know he’s looking forward to it.”

The rookie concurred.

“Super excited,” Garcia said of his reaction upon hearing the news from Boone. “When they finally told me that I was going to get the ball for Game 2. What can I say? Just so excited about it. At the same time, very thankful for the opportunity and I will try to go out there and do the best I can.”

Garcia’s 5’9″ stature and electric stuff has drawn comparisons to Pedro Martinez early in his career, and while that’s quite a lofty comparison at this stage, he certainly looks more and more like a player with cult potential in New York.

Over the small sample of major league innings we’ve seen so far, Garcia averages a 91.9 mph four-seamer that serves as the bedrock offering in his arsenal, throwing it about 60% of the time, often up. The Dominican righty utilizes an 80.6 mph change-up away against lefties while mixing in a breaking ball about 12.5% of the time. Against right-handed batters, he goes to a slider/curveball combo more frequently, giving equal love to the slider and curve for a total usage rate of about 33%. He was the Yankees No. 1 prospect coming into the season.

Juan Soto Becomes MLB’s Youngest National League Batting Champion

Juan Soto has swung his way into the Major League Baseball history books…

The 21-year-old Dominican professional baseball player and Washington Nationals outfielder, nicknamed ”Childish Bambino,“ has become the National League‘s youngest batting champion, as Washington closed out the season with a 15-5 victory over the New York Mets.

Soto walked and singled before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the third inning, elevating his average to .351 and sealing the NL lead in the category during this pandemic-shortened 60-game season.

Soto surpassed Brooklyn’s Pete Reiser as the youngest ever to take a batting crown. Reiser was 22 when he ended the 1941 season hitting a league-leading .343.

“For me, it doesn’t matter the age,” Soto said with a smile when informed of the feat’s historical significance. “If you deserve it, you deserve it.”

Soto held off Atlanta Braves teammates Freddie Freeman (.341) and Marcell Ozuna (.338) and also finished 2020 with the MLB lead in on-base percentage (.490) and slugging percentage (.695).

Soto was also named Washington’s player of the year in voting by local media.

The Nationals finished 26-34 a year after winning their first World Series.

Dave Martinez Reportedly Agrees to Three-Year Contract Extension with Washington Nationals

Dave Martinez is extending his stay in the The District

The Washington Nationals and the 56-year-old former Major League Baseball outfielder and current manager/coach have agreed to a three-year extension, according to ESPN.

Dave Martinez

The deal is worth $7.5 million, according to USA Today.

Martinez had an option on his contract for next season, but this deal would replace that and keep the manager with the reigning World Series champs through the 2023 season.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, who signed his own new contract this season, stated that re-signing Martinez was a priority for him.

Albert Pujols Stands Alone at No. 2 on MLB’s Career RBI List

Albert Pujols is standing alone at No. 2…

The 40-year-old Dominican professional baseball first baseman and designated hitter for the Los Angeles Angels, who tied Alex Rodriguez for second place on the Major League Baseball career RBI list last week, is now all alone in second place.

Albert Pujols

Pujols passed ARod on the list with an RBI single in the fifth inning of Monday night’s 11-4 loss to the Houston Astros in Houston. That gave him 2,087 career RBIs.

Hank Aaron is the record holder at 2,297.

Babe Ruth had 2,214 career RBIs, but he isn’t officially on the career list because RBIs didn’t become an official stat until 1920, per Elias Sports Bureau research.

Jose Abreu Ties MLB Record with Sixth Homer in the Series Against the Chicago Cubs

Jose Abreu has made Major League Baseball history…

The 33-year-old Cuban professional baseball player and Chicago White Sox first baseman tied an MLB record on Sunday, when he homered in his first at-bat against the Chicago Cubs, marking his fourth straight plate appearance with a home run and sixth homer in the series.

Jose Abreu

“I’m never satisfied with what I do,” Abreu said after the Sox’s 2-1 loss to the Cubs. “I can do better. I can do more. That’s why I work so hard. But it definitely feels good to do something like that. I’d rather have the win today.”

The home run was the only tally of the game for the White Sox, who have scored their past 20 runs via the long ball. That’s three runs shy of a record set by the Milwaukee Brewers last season.

Abreu hit a 2-1 cutter from Yu Darvish to left-center in the second inning, one day after he hit home runs in his final three at-bats against three different pitchers. His six home runs over the weekend tie him with four others for the most in a three-game series in the live ball era, which dates to 1920. It’s also the most home runs by any player in any series this season.

Entering the series with the Cubs, Abreu was tied for 20th in the American League in home runs. He now leads the AL in homers, with 11.

The loss snapped the White Sox’s seven-game win streak but continued a home run streak for the club. They’ve hit 30 home runs in the past nine games. That’s by far the most in baseball in that span.

“We know what we’re capable of doing,” Abreu said. “We can’t fast-forward from here to the playoffs. At the end of the season, we’ll see what the result is.”

Albert Pujols Ties for Second Place on MLB Career RBI List

Albert Pujols is batting his way into the annals of MLB history…

The 40-year-old Dominican professional baseball first baseman and designated hitter for the Los Angeles Angels has tied Alex Rodriguez for second place on the Major League Baseball career RBI list.

Albert Pujols

Pujols tied ARod with a single in the sixth inning of the Angels’ game against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night.

Pujols’ hit off Andrew Suarez drove in Anthony Rendon as part of the Angels’ two-run inning. It’s the 2,086th RBI of Pujols’ career.

He’s now 211 RBIs away from tying former home run king Hank Aaron, who holds the record with 2,297.

Pujols remains one home run shy of 660 for his career, which would tie him with Willie Mays for fifth.

The Angels would go on to lose 7-2 for their sixth defeat in seven games. At 8-17, they are off to their worst 25-game start in franchise history.