Apparently “toughness” was the Red Sox’ biggest problem in 2011

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Word count in the latest column from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe about the new values Bobby Valentine plans to instill in the Red Sox:

  • Some variation of the word “tough”: 26
  • Some reference to running out ground balls: 6
  • “grit”:  3
  • “Punto”: 2
  • Mentions of the quality of the starting pitching: 0
  • Mentions of the pitchers’ “shenanigans”: 1

Ah, the offseason. When a 90-win team’s failure to make the playoffs can be cast as a function of grit, determination and a Punto deficit disorder, and nothing that actually happened on the diamond.

Report: Red Sox expected to hire Alex Cora after World Series

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Red Sox have offered a contract to Astros’ bench coach Alex Cora, though the deal won’t be officially announced until the conclusion of the World Series later this month. Cora has long been a favorite for the Sox’ managerial vacancy, and despite reports that he was being pursued by the Tigers, Mets, Phillies and Nationals, he’s expected to land in Boston after all. The team has yet to verify the report.

The deal is for three years, per the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Cora is coming off of a one-year gig with the Astros and has no prior managerial experience. More importantly, however, he stands out for his familiarity with the Red Sox’ organization, strong connection with players and analytics-driven approach.

The Red Sox are the second team to replace their manager this offseason after the Tigers snatched up Ron Gardenhire on Friday. The Mets, Phillies and Nationals are still hunting for replacements.