John Tomase

Thoughts on Devers speaking out, Cora's future, and the ‘kids' growing up

Will growing internal criticism force John Henry into action?

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A few thoughts on where things stand in Red Sox camp in the wake of Rafael Devers's pointed criticism of ownership's lackluster offseason. ...

I'm not ready to declare Devers a leader, but he certainly rose to the moment on Tuesday when he castigated the team for failing to address obvious holes this winter.

"Everybody knows what we need," he told reporters in Florida, and kudos to translator Carlos Villoria Benítez for not censoring him. "You know what we need and they know what we need. It's just some things that I can't say out loud. Everybody who knows the organization and knows the game knows what we need."

If anything is going to cure John Henry of his "let them eat cake" indifference, maybe it's growing internal criticism, which includes Devers voicing his frustration, closer Kenley Jansen telling Rob Bradford's Baseball Isn't Boring podcast that he expected the Red Sox to compete this year, and CEO Sam Kennedy letting slip that second baseman Dustin Pedroia reminded him exactly which free agents remain available, a message which probably wasn't delivered subtly.

If the complaints of current All-Stars and franchise icons can't rouse Henry, then nothing will, because he certainly hasn't been moved by public unrest.

If nothing else, Netflix just signed up for one hell of a soap opera. ...

Alex Cora's future remains a hot topic, but here's one narrative I would push back on: that he's checked out.

While I don't expect Cora to return next year to oversee a wheezing rebuild, he has little incentive to punt on this season and then enter free agency with three straight last-place finishes. Like a player in a contract year, he needs to excel if he wants to approach the $40 million deal Craig Counsell secured from the Cubs.

Cora will be engaged, he's not going to quit, and we'll see if that's enough to compensate for the wide talent disparity between the top and bottom of the division. He does remain widely respected across the game for a reason. ...

John Tomase talks about the lack of enthusiasm on the Red Sox in Fort Myers. He also says he doesn't believe Alex Cora will quit this season, but he will be managing 'like he's a free agent' so he can land a job next season.

Now for some player thoughts. We've already laid out how Trevor Story gives a bleep, and the veteran deserves credit for stepping up as a leader. It won't matter if his bat doesn't make a comeback, but Story is in tremendous shape and will have a chance to impact every game defensively from shortstop, where he's Gold Glove-caliber. ...

A few guys showed up bigger than expected. Second baseman Vaughn Grissom is listed at 6-foot-2, but he sure feels taller, and the physical resemblance to Xander Bogaerts that Cora mentioned recently is striking. Grissom is a .300 hitter waiting to happen, and if he can field his position, the Red Sox will be able to say they got something for Chris Sale.

Meanwhile, right-hander Brayan Bello also looks thicker and more physically mature, which makes sense, since he doesn't turn 25 until May. Also, fellow righty Garrett Whitlock is impressively chiseled after spending his first healthy offseason since 2018 in the gym, though he continues to insist he didn't actually gain an ounce, instead redistributing his listed 222 pounds. ...

The title of strongest player on the roster will come down to outfielders Jarren Duran and Tyler O'Neill, who both boast massive biceps, but neither may be the strongest men in their families. O'Neill's father, Terry, was named Mr. Canada in 1975 and later palled around with Arnold Schwarzenegger, while Octavio Duran is a lifelong bodybuilder who looks chiseled from granite himself. ...

The first time Cora referred to the younger members of the rotation as "kids" this spring, he checked himself. Some combination of Whitlock, Tanner Houck, Kutter Crawford, and Josh Winckowski will be in the rotation alongside Lucas Giolito, Bello, and Nick Pivetta, and Cora has no plans to baby them.

"They're 27," Cora said. "They're not kids. I mean, some of them, they got two years under their belt and they're older. Kids are the ones that in '20 or '21 were getting to the big leagues. Those are kids.

"These guys are not veterans, but they're not young anymore. Hopefully they can take that step forward and become the guys that everybody envisioned five years ago, four years ago."

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