The Boston Red Sox won a record 108 games and a World Series championship in their first season under the direction of Alex Cora.
So, what can they do for an encore? Get better, of course.
Wait, what? Stick with us. Or, better yet, allow Cora himself to explain how the Red Sox can be even better in 2019.
“There are certain guys that took steps forward in the second half,” Cora said Wednesday, via WEEI. “Jackie (Bradley), that’s the one I’ve been saying all along. I’m very excited to see what happens this season after he was very consistent in the second half. He worked on a few things in the offseason and I’m looking forward to seeing him go out there and perform and see if he is as consistent as he was in the second half.
“Still feel Xander (Bogaerts) could be better,” Cora continued. “Rafael Devers, not only defensively but offensively, to become the guy we saw in September/October. Mitch Moreland to become the force he was in the first half. You start looking at things, certain things that happened in the second half, some of them were just some guys struggling. Others were that we were able to slow people down and use them in a way to save bullets for October.”
Cora also sees specific ways the Red Sox can improve both offensively and on the bump.
“I do feel offensively, I know it’s hard to believe, but we can improve,” Cora said. “We can be more dangerous from top to bottom. Baserunning, it was bad early in the season, but at the end we were elite and we have to continue that. There are certain guys I think should keep moving. Xander can steal 20. I do believe that. Stuff like that.
“Pitching-wise, we did an outstanding job maximizing what we have. Not only the starters and relievers but some guys that came up. (William) Cuevas last year, the way he pitched, it told us we have the right idea how to maximize their ability and what we believe as a group how they pitch. Bobby Poyner. There are a lot of guys that did an outstanding job and it’s a testament to Dana (LeVangie), (Brian Bannister) and the whole group. Craig Bjornson was huge for us. We do believe there’s a few things we can do better and if we do we’re going to be in good shape.”
If Cora is right and the juggernaut Red Sox can improve on their dominating 2018 campaign, the rest of Major League Baseball might be in for a long season.
Thumbnail photo via Jonathan Dyer/USA TODAY Sports Images