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Picked Off

Photo Credit: Eric Enfermero

Boom. As fans, let’s take a few moments to assess what we just witnessed in the latest edition of “As The Baseball World Turns”…

I wish I had time to go in-depth on this situation, which is still evolving as we speak.  But I do have some references for you to follow up and discuss if you wish.

What we know so far:

  • The Astros got As-whupped (PDF download) for their rather frank cheating activities during ther 2017 season which resulted in them being crowned World Series. champions.
  • After being suspended for one year each by Major League Baseball, Houston Astros owner Jim Crane fired GM Jeff Lunhow and manager A.J. Hinch.
  • Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who was bench coach with the Astros for the 2017 season, was implicated in the report and ongoing investigation into the 2018 Red Sox cheating allegations.
  • New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran, who formerly played on the 2017 Astros team and was also implicated in the report as one of a group of players who discussed ways of interpreting signs and signals by the other team, will not be punished by MLB (no players were punished).

There has been and will continue to be plenty of discussion about what this all means for the people involved; we know that the Astros lose their first and second picks in both the 2020-21 drafts and also have to pony up $5 million; an unprecedented punishment indeed for the fifth-year commissioner Rob Manfred and for baseball overall, but then Crane went beyond that and fired Luhnow and Hinch for essentially  embarrassing the organization and the city of Houston. Cora is still under investigation; he was singled out as the person who implemented the cheating system, then allegedly carried it over to his new job as manager and won a championship with it there. If he gets the book thrown at him, it will likely be bigger than the one thrown at Luhnow and Hinch, and likely result in his dismissal.  meanwhile, Beltran, while not escaping the eye of MLB investigators, managed not to get punished by MLB.  Yet, that doesn’t mean the story is over for him; there will likely be internal discussion about his suitability for running the Mets going forward, depending on what or if he told the Wilpons and GM Brodie about his part in the scandal and whether or not it means anything to them (did they even ask?) The New York press is going to have a field day with this, for real.

Happy New Year, folks, your Hot Stove is on fire

Referenced Links:

The Athletic, Article 1 and Article 2 (subscription needed)

MLB Trade Rumors, Article 1 and Article 2

MLB.Com (video featured)

Categories:  1: Featured  Chyll Will  Hot Stove  news

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31 comments

1 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 13, 2020 8:32 pm

Yanks can’t be innocent in these matters, right?

Still, 100 years after the White Sox throw the Whirled Serious, cheating is still the National Pastime!

Wonder how many other teams will be exposed? Obviously, the Sox are going to have to deal with some heat next. Cora looks like he's toast.

2 rbj   ~  Jan 13, 2020 8:46 pm

The problem with the draft pick thing is that now two first rounders are going to drop to the second round for less money, and two second rounders drop to the third. Give those picks to the four worst teams in 2019. And make the Astros pay the slot money.

IIRC, the Yankees did do something which caused the new policy, plus the Red Sox had that Apple Watch thing.

I guess two years for Cora, or permanent with the ability for reinstate after two years.

3 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 13, 2020 8:48 pm

2) Yes, I remember that. I wonder if they were ever suspected of doing more. Dodgers, Mets, Cubs, Rays, A’s? I wonder if what the Astros were doing was genuinely more than what other teams were doing.

Be nice if MLB made Crane and the organization hurt more in their punishment on this.

4 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Jan 13, 2020 9:49 pm

Read the report...wow......The GM and Manager HAVE to get hit for all this as they are in charge and I don't buy Luhnow didn't know. And Hinch is the manager ferchrissakes, he 'disapproved' but didn't do anything? Zeus spare me that weak shite, you think Earl Weaver (or even someone more recent like JoeyJoeJoe) would have put up with that?

Not sure how NO players can go down for this, though maybe the Commish office thinks they'll pay via the shame?

5 Chyll Will   ~  Jan 13, 2020 9:54 pm

[3] They must have talked this over before announcing the punishment, and at first I thought Crane fired them out of embarrassment, but now I think he did it to head off any further scrutiny and subsequent punishment that might effect his status as the team owner.

Steinbrenner was banned "permanently" for associating with a known gambler trying to dig up dirt on his own player, how much worse for Crane if he knew about the cheating and did nothing? Steinbrenner's two-year absence was profound enough to change the course of the whole franchise; Crane's would ostensibly be longer and who knows where the Astros end up when or if he came back?

Speculation aside, the Astros will be suspect for half a decade now even with the firing of those two; most of the players are still there, and raking in fortunes because they cheated. Same with the Red Sox, the Yanks and any team that has had huge success within the last few years. It's amazing how MLB invents their own crises every decade that threatens to spoil the entire profession, yet it all quietly goes away with a tremendous season of broken records left and right.

Why do they cheat? Ask Jose Altuve, especially after his extension. Money is the key to it all.

6 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Jan 13, 2020 10:04 pm

[5] "Why do they cheat? Ask Jose Altuve, especially after his extension. Money is the key to it all." Not just money though? Athletes are always looking for every edge possible ni order to win. If the players were thinking that 'everybody is doing it' then they wouldn't think of it as cheating..?

7 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Jan 13, 2020 10:04 pm

[5] Interesting point about Steinbrenner. Crane would be forced to cede control of the team if he was found to have known/approved?

8 Chyll Will   ~  Jan 13, 2020 11:07 pm

[6] I do believe not all players are driven by the prospect of immense fortune (to them). But I also believe it is the modern factor; up until the advent of free agency, most players who were not superstars had to take on a regular job during the off-season while the owners were still rich.

How do we know if "gaining an edge" is not factored in as part of the quest for wealth? And what do they do after they've acquired it? Some go for fame or legacy I guess (Bonds, Clemens, etc). These guys will all be watched closely, that's for sure. Crane has to feel like the biggest dope who owns a major league team right now. Don't know if he's ever met Dolan or Snyder; I'm sure he knows Fred Wilpon tho... Yeah Mr. Crane, the first championship for the Houston Astros is forever tarnished even if you don't want to think so.

9 Boatzilla   ~  Jan 14, 2020 5:02 am

I say after all this, it's time to put Pete Rose (douchebag or not) into the Hall of Fame.

10 Greg G   ~  Jan 14, 2020 11:20 am

(8) I think players are competitive and want to win. I think players are competitive and want to be paid more than other players. Bot of these might make players try to get an edge.

Just like with steroids, I think players justify it. They might think, "well, if I don't do this and this player does, he has an edge that I don't."

To think that the Yanks hired Beltran, and he is good at sign stealing and picking up a pitcher, who is tipping pitches and they did this the "right" way is probably a stretch. But maybe they did just use hand signals and not an electronic system?

(5) Good point on Altuve too. Maybe he isn't the same player, when he doesn't know which pitch is coming, and that dude is making bank.

11 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Jan 14, 2020 12:42 pm

great article in the WASH POST today (Bozwell) on how Nats complicated the sign isue to avert cheating by the Stros.

12 Ara Just Fair   ~  Jan 14, 2020 4:35 pm

There have been countless games over the years where I've thought, "Damn! It's like they know what's coming!" To hell with houston. I hope cora goes down, too. A wild suggestion I read weeks ago I liked the best. Make houston play all 162 of their games this season on the road. Ha!

13 Greg G   ~  Jan 14, 2020 8:00 pm

Cora is gone now too. I imagine the Red Sox should also lose picks unless they are just firing him for his part with the Astros?

14 rbj   ~  Jan 14, 2020 8:27 pm

Come on, Bobby Valentine! He’s got experience with the Sawx.

15 RIYank   ~  Jan 15, 2020 7:12 am

[13] Maybe it depends on whether they decide Dombrowski did anything wrong.
Nah, the Sox will lose picks. It's just totally implausible that so little wrongdoing will show up that they just get some kind of slap on the wrist.

16 Greg G   ~  Jan 15, 2020 4:26 pm

Some people are looking back on the press conference that Cora gave after the London series when the Yanks torched the Sox pitching. Cora said the biggest Yanks offseason free agent signing was Beltran. And even mentioned devices specifically. I won't throw the Yanks and Beltran under the bus yet. The Yanks don't do things that every other club does. Just look at their antiquated hair policy. Maybe Beltran was helping the team spot tendencies, steal signs and also point out to the Yanks when they were tipping pitches or someone was stealing signals from the Yanks? It isn't illegal to do those things, just illegal to use electronics to do it.

17 rbj   ~  Jan 16, 2020 1:14 pm

And now Beltran is stepping down.

18 Greg G   ~  Jan 16, 2020 2:23 pm

Beltran might have survived this in another city besides NY or Boston. The NY press would not have left this alone, and it would have been a huge distraction. The Mets are Schleprock. They have the reverse Midas touch.

19 Greg G   ~  Jan 16, 2020 5:26 pm

New allegations that the Stros wore little buzzers against their skin. It does seem odd that Altuve told his teammates not to rip off his shirt when he hit the dinger against Chapman to end the ALCS. He said it was because he is shy and he got in trouble from his wife the last time his teammates did it. Seems fishy to me.

20 mhoward120   ~  Jan 16, 2020 5:41 pm

(19). If true, every single player should be suspended for the season. And they should be stripped of the WS title.

21 rbj   ~  Jan 16, 2020 7:48 pm

Jessica Mendoza is upset with Mike Fiers for blowing the whistle. I guess she’s pro-cheating.

22 Chyll Will   ~  Jan 16, 2020 10:53 pm

[21] It's hard to take anyone seriously who thinks that way.

23 Boatzilla   ~  Jan 16, 2020 11:15 pm

[22] She's thinking like a cop. Or rather what the cops in TV dramas do to protect their own. In fact, I am pulling directly from Ray Liotta's characters Cop Land and Shades of Blue. I don't know any cops in RL.

Anyway, that's the kind of thinking that inhibits change and prevents progress.

Off with her head!

24 Boatzilla   ~  Jan 17, 2020 2:18 am

Mike Trout?
Mike Trout.
Mike Trout!
Mike Fucking Trout.

The Baseball Apocalypse is upon us.

25 Chyll Will   ~  Jan 17, 2020 11:23 am

That needs to be proven. That comes off as a lot of trolling to get people in a tizzy for their own purpose. Bring proof and then talk smack.

26 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Jan 17, 2020 12:39 pm

What's the story about Trout?

27 RIYank   ~  Jan 17, 2020 1:28 pm

[26] David Brosius has accused him of taking HGH.

28 rbj   ~  Jan 17, 2020 4:02 pm

And now Jack McDowell is claiming La Russa had a sign stealing scheme in Chicago. In the 1980s. This is getting nuts.

29 Chyll Will   ~  Jan 17, 2020 4:48 pm

David Brosius has backed down from his accusation, writing a lengthy apology. The milk is spilled though, so...

30 Greg G   ~  Jan 17, 2020 7:49 pm

According to a news report Henry was going to keep Cora until he heard that they might vacate the 2018 WS championship.

That sounds like the Sox were doing some serious cheating in 2018. Do tell.

31 Boatzilla   ~  Jan 18, 2020 2:49 am

[29] Sorry for propagating bad intel. Maybe his dad gave him a talking to.

Anyway, weird week of Hot Stove, nonetheless. Next up on the hot seat Jose Altuve.

Does anyone long for the days when the only sources of news were print and broadcast (TV & radio)? Of course, I can't image life without this beloved blog and others. Just askin'

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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