Since this years free agent market is slower than pouring a jar of molasses I thought I would turn today’s focus on the three new managers joining the American League. You might recognize the three names as they are all former major league players. Two have brothers that played, one took another team to the playoffs six times and one is very well-known for a game 7 series ending home run.
The American League welcomed Alex Cora to the Boston Red Sox, Ron “Gardy” Gardenhire to the Detroit Tigers, and the longest most anticipated hiring of the off-season Aaron Boone joined the New York Yankees. Each man beginning a new chapter in their lives whether returning to the role or starting from scratch. Both Cora and Boone will don their former teams uniforms once again.
Let’s start with Alex Cora who is the younger brother of Joey Cora. Alex played infield for 14 years with 6 different teams during that span. His career numbers include a .243 batting average and a .310 on base percentage with 828 hits. He takes over a team that fired its manager after winning a 2013 World Series and winning back to back Division Titles the past two seasons. The Red Sox recently re-signed first baseman Mitch Moreland. Cora will certainly be thrown into the deep end managing in the limelight of the AL East where the Red Sox quickly get to face their AL East opponents the Devil Rays, Yankees and Orioles in week one and two of the season.
Ron Gardenhire will be managing the Tigers in Detroit this year at the ripe age of 61. He is the most experienced all of the off-season managerial hires and the oldest. He replaces Brad Ausmus who managed the Tigers for the three previous seasons. Gardy as he’s nicknamed has won the American League Manager of the year award in 2010 and finished as a runner-up five times while in Minnesota. His teams never reached the World Series after winning the Division six times. He’ll need to do more than just keep his ailing vets Cabrera and Martinez healthy if he wants to have a chance to go this year.
Lastly there’s Aaron Boone in the Big Apple. For weeks we sat on pins and needles wondering who Brian Cashman was interviewing and who in the end he was going to hire. Boone is third generation which is baseball’s equivalent of royalty. His grandfather, father and brother all played Major League baseball. Yankee fans fondly remember his 2003 walk off home run in the 11th inning of game seven against the Boston Red Sox. Boone played mostly third base during his twelve-year career. He finished with a .263 batting average, .326 on base percentage, and with 1017 hits. Most recently he was a color commentator for Sunday Night baseball on ESPN and he has never managed in the bigs. Boone’s future is bright as he takes over a team that lost the ALCS in seven games to the World Series champion Houston Astros and signed the NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton this off-season. Of all the new managers Boone will have the most press watching him this season and General Manager Brian Cashman will be watching his every move too.