A quick glance at the names the Detroit Tigers are interested in interviewing for their vacant managerial spot reveals some popular candidates. Guys like Fredi Gonzalez, Ron Gardenhire, Dave Martinez and Gabe Kapler are drawing interest from multiple teams this offseason. You can add Alex Cora to that list.
The Tigers, the New York Mets, and the Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly all interested in talking with Cora. The Astros bench coach won’t be available until his team’s playoff run ends, but he’ll be a busy man however the season goes for his club. We’ll probably hear that the Red Sox are interested, as well. Basically Cora is up for every job available right now.
For his part, Astros manager, A.J. Hinch, is convinced that Cora will be leaving him in the near future, and predicts success when he does. Hinch told the Houston Chronicle that, "He's going to be a manager. He deserves all of the recognition that he's getting, and he's a viable candidate if any of them call." Hinch, speaking to the New York Post, said of Cora that, “His relatability skills to players, his baseball intellect [are] all impressive, and his transition to coaching has gone well.
The 41-year-old Cora spent 14 seasons in the major leagues, mainly as a middle infielder. He came up with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but played for the Washington Nationals, New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox in his later years. Many teammates saw Cora as a future manager during his playing days. His ability to unpack and communicate the intricacies of the game were also on display during Cora’s brief time as a broadcaster.
So, Cora seems to possess a lot of the attributes the Tigers are looking for. A good baseball mind, fresh from working from one of the more forward-thinking organizations out there. A guy who communicates well with players from a wide variety of backgrounds. However, the one thing lacking from the Tigers’ perspective is managerial experience.
Cora has direct experience as a major league coach, and no doubt has a solid grasp of the managerial role due to his work with Hinch. But, like other candidates like Dave Martinez, Gabe Kapler, or Jim McEwing, he’s untested in the actual role itself. However, despite General Manager Al Avila’s repeated mentions of experience as a big part of the Tigers’ wish list of attributes, a lot of their top candidates lack actual managerial experience. It obviously isn’t a deal-breaker, or they’re wasting a lot of peoples’ time.
From the outside, it’s obviously impossible to guess who the best choice would be to replace Brad Ausmus. The Tigers aren’t expected to win anytime soon, and so a new manager will likely have time to grow into the role. Experience is important, but an actual tenure as a major league manager isn’t required. The fact that the Tigers are interviewing so many candidates without those qualifications argues that if they really like someone, and believe they have what it takes to become a fine manager, they may be willing to try another rookie. In which case, Alex Cora seems as good a choice as any.