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MLB To Strip Red Sox Of 2020 Second-Round Pick
10 months ago  ::  Apr 22, 2020 - 3:52PM #1
Posts: 12,369

MLB To Strip Red Sox Of 2020 Second-Round Pick; Alex Cora Banned Through 2020 Postseason

 Major League Baseball is set to announce the Red Sox’ punishment stemming from a months-long investigation into sign-stealing allegations, Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic report. The league will strip the Red Sox of their 2020 second-round pick, ban replay operator J.T. Watkins through 2020 (and from holding the same title in 2021) and ban former manager Alex Cora through 2020 — although apparently only due to Cora’s wrongdoings with the 2017 Astros (when he was their bench coach).

Those penalties pale in comparison to what many felt was a light Astros punishment in response to their 2017 trash can scheme; Houston GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were both suspended one year (and subsequently fired by the team), while the organization was fined the maximum permissible $5MM and stripped of first- and second-round picks in each of the next two drafts.

The league announced the findings of what it terms an “exhaustive investigation into allegations of improper use of the video replay room” just minutes after the report from Drellich and Rosenthal. Within, commissioner Rob Manfred offered the following breakdown of his findings:

  • “I find that J.T. Watkins, the Red Sox video replay system operator, on at least some occasions during the 2018 regular season, utilized the game feeds in the replay room, in violation of MLB regulations, to revise sign sequence information that he had permissibly provided to players prior to the game.
  • I find that unlike the Houston Astros’ 2017 conduct, in which players communicated to the batter from the dugout area in real time the precise type of pitch about to be thrown, Watkins’s conduct, by its very nature, was far more limited in scope and impact. The information was only relevant when the Red Sox had a runner on second base (which was 19.7% of plate appearances league-wide in 2018), and Watkins communicated sign sequences in a manner that indicated that he had decoded them from the in-game feed in only a small percentage of those occurrences.
  • I do not find that then-Manager Alex Cora, the Red Sox coaching staff, the Red Sox front office, or most of the players on the 2018 Red Sox knew or should have known that Watkins was utilizing in-game video to update the information that he had learned from his pregame analysis. Communication of these violations was episodic and isolated to Watkins and a limited number of Red Sox players only.
  • I find that the Red Sox front office consistently communicated MLB’s sign-stealing rules to non-player staff and made commendable efforts toward instilling a culture of compliance in their organization.”

Manfred goes on to emphasize that while he has previously granted players immunity in exchange for truthful testimony in both the Astros and Red Sox investigations, the findings of his Red Sox inquiry would not have led him to consider disciplining players anyhow (which surely would not have been the case with regard to the Astros). The loss of the draft pick, per the commissioner, stems from the fact that he still felt the organization should be held accountable for benefiting from data that was obtained improperly.

Manfred’s report on the investigation details that every player who spent time with the 2018 Red Sox was interviewed in some capacity and provided what were deemed truthful testimonies. A total of 65 witnesses were interviewed during the course of the investigation, and MLB’s department of investigations (DOI) reviewed “tens of thousands of emails, text messages, video clips and photographs,” per the report.

Watkins, the employee on whom the entirety of the wrongdoing is blamed by commissioner Manfred, was an advance scout tasked with using video to decode signs before and after Red Sox games — a permissible act that falls within MLB’s guidelines on the implementation of technology within the game. However, he was also the team’s replay reviewer, responsible during games for coordinating with Cora on whether to challenge a call or not. The report notes that other clubs had that same setup, but an investigation into the Red Sox found that Watkins would, at times, alter pre-game sign sequencing information in the middle of an active game. While most players who were interviewed said they had no knowledge of any wrongdoing by Watkins, others acknowledged that they had suspicions after the data coming from Watkins changed over the course of a game.

Watkins, per Manfred, has “vehemently denied” any such practice, although clearly based on the punishment levied by the league, Manfred and the DOI felt sufficient evidence to the contrary was present. Moreover, the commissioner’s report highlights that Watkins was a “key participant” in the 2017 Apple Watch incident that led to a fine for the Red Sox and helped bring questions about improper use of technology to light on a national basis.

With regard to any potential postseason wrongdoing, Manfred adds that the commissioner’s office positioned “full-time, in-person monitors in replay rooms to prevent the improper use of video equipment.” Such measures were not in place throughout the regular season.

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy issued the following statement via press release:

As an organization, we strive for 100% compliance with the rules. MLB’s investigation concluded that in isolated instances during the 2018 regular season, sign sequences were decoded through the use of live game video rather than through permissible means. MLB acknowledged the front office’s extensive efforts to communicate and enforce the rules and concluded that Alex Cora, the coaching staff, and most of the players did not engage in, nor were they aware of, any violations. Regardless, these rule violations are unacceptable. We apologize to our fans and Major League Baseball, and accept the Commissioner’s ruling.

10 months ago  ::  Apr 22, 2020 - 4:33PM #2
Posts: 81,062

And it's just as always, special rules for special people.

10 months ago  ::  Apr 22, 2020 - 4:43PM #3
Posts: 1,048

Unbelievable. That’s nothing but a proverbial slap on the wrist.

10 months ago  ::  Apr 22, 2020 - 4:54PM #4
Daltons the name
Posts: 319

Manfred is an MLB coward........he should be asked to resign......IMMEDIATELY........what a crock.........No Nads Manfred...........disgraceful.......

10 months ago  ::  Apr 22, 2020 - 5:12PM #5
Posts: 1,048

Not even a first round but a lousy second draft pick. WTF?!!

10 months ago  ::  Apr 22, 2020 - 7:39PM #6
Posts: 12,369

Red Sox To Remove “Interim” Tag From Ron Roenicke’s Title

The Red Sox will soon announce that they’re removing the “interim” tag from interim manager Ron Roenicke’s title, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets. He’ll serve as the “permanent” manager for the 2020 season, assuming one is played.

It’s an expected move and one that’s largely a formality. At the time Roenicke was named Alex Cora’s replacement, multiple reports indicated that the organization would remove the “interim” qualifier if and when the league’s investigation cleared Roenicke of any wrongdoing in the 2018 sign-stealing allegations that had been brought for against the club. Today’s announcement from commissioner Rob Manfred, which punished only one current Red Sox employee, will now bring about that anticipated title modification.

Of course, Roenicke is still signed for only the 2020 season, and his future beyond that is unclear. He’d previously served as Cora’s bench coach, so if the organization opts to bring in a new skipper, it’s possible Roenicke could return to that role or move on altogether. Notably, there appears to be nothing (outside of what would figure to be enormously negative public relations pushback) standing in the way of the Red Sox simply re-hiring Cora for the 2021 season. His league-imposed ban only runs through the 2020 playoffs and Manfred made sure to emphasize that the punishment stemmed only from his wrongdoings while serving as the Astros’ bench coach in 2017 — not for anything he did with Boston.

10 months ago  ::  Apr 22, 2020 - 8:48PM #7
Posts: 9,544

Apr 22, 2020 -- 5:12PM, njyf wrote:

Not even a first round but a lousy second draft pick. WTF?!!

Agree.. unbelievable!!

10 months ago  ::  Apr 22, 2020 - 9:13PM #8
Posts: 2,768

Make that 2 teams that will get harsh treatment from fans and players once baseball returns. And if the Yankees Red Sox rivalry wasn't already intense, wait until the first meeting at Yankee Stadium.

10 months ago  ::  Apr 22, 2020 - 9:58PM #9
Posts: 18,486

Apr 22, 2020 -- 4:33PM, GottaGoToMo wrote:

And it's just as always, special rules for special people.

Manfred will be moving to Martha's Vineyard soon....

10 months ago  ::  Apr 23, 2020 - 9:42AM #10
Posts: 12,369

Alex Cora Issues Statement On Suspension; Red Sox Unlikely To Rehire Him

It took months to announce a decision, but Major League Baseball finally handed down its punishment Wednesday for Boston’s sign-stealing violations in 2018. Former manager Alex Cora, whom the Red Sox parted with in January, received a suspension for the entire 2020 campaign. However, Cora’s ban came as a result of his wrongdoing as the Astros’ bench coach in 2017 – not anything he did in Boston.

We don’t even know if a season will occur because of the coronavirus pandemic, so Cora may not miss much this year. The onetime World Series-winning skipper reacted to the league’s decision after it came down, though, and the entire statement is available on Twitter by way of his agency, MDR Sports Management.

“I am relieved that these MLB investigations are concluded and that Commissioner Rob Manfred has released his finding that I did not violate any MLB rules as a member of the Red Sox organization in 2018 or 2019,” said Cora. He added that he takes “full responsibility” for his part in the Astros’ 2017 violations and called them “unacceptable.”

Cora won’t be eligible to manage again for another season, but he was rather successful in that role in his two years with the Red Sox. The team went 192-132 during that span and, as mentioned, won a championship. They’ve since committed to Cora’s former bench coach, Ron Roenicke, as their manager for at least a year. But would the Red Sox consider pivoting back to Cora when his suspension expires? That doesn’t seem likely.

“All the reasons that we parted ways with him there are still the case,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said Wednesday (via Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe).

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said they “wish him well,” but nothing’s changed in regards to why the club let go of Cora.

Still just 44 years old, Cora may well resurface as a major league manager, but it doesn’t appear that will happen in Boston.

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