Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Red Sox Fire Cora; Mets Should Follow Their Lead With Beltran

Alex Cora.

The Boston Red Sox wasted no time firing their manager, Alex Cora, after his role in the Houston Astros' sign-stealing operation during the 2017 season was revealed in a report from Major League Baseball.

The report was released on Monday, detailing how Cora, then the Houston bench coach, was one of the ringleaders of the scheme to  decode other teams' signs, and the Sox made the move on Tuesday.

Mets Manager Carlos Beltran, who was a player on that Houston team, also was one of the instigators in saying the y needed a system to get their opponents' signs to the batters. They should follow Boston's lead and dismiss Beltran immediately, and since it is just one month before spring training, they should bring Terry Collins back to provide stability to the club. 

The Red Sox released a statement from Principal Owner John Henry, Chairman Tom Werner, and CEO Sam Kennedy, which stated that they "decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward and we mutually agreed to part ways."

With that as a guidepost, it doesn't seem that the Mets can answer the question of Beltran being able to "effectively lead the club" in the wake of this scandal. 

That also goes for former Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Manager A.J. Hinch, who were handed one-year suspensions by Major League Baseball, and then dismissed for good by Houston management immediately. To paraphrase Boston's statement with a different preposition, how can they ever "effectively lead a club" going forward?

This is what MLB's report on the Astros' cheating operation said, with Cora and Beltran's roles detailed:

Factual Findings
I. Rules Violations in the 2017 Season

At the beginning of the 2017 season, employees in the Astros’ video replay review
room began using the live game feed from the center field camera to attempt to decode and transmit opposing teams’ sign sequences (i.e., which sign flashed by the catcher is the actual sign) for use when an Astros runner was on second base. Once the sign sequence was decoded, a player in the video replay review room would act as a “runner” to relay the information to the dugout, and a person in the dugout would notify the players in the dugout or signal the sign sequence to the runner on second base, who in turn would decipher the catcher’s sign and signal to the batter from second base. Early in the season, Alex Cora, the Astros’ Bench Coach, began to call the replay review room on the replay phone to obtain the sign information. On at least some occasions, the employees in the replay review room communicated the sign sequence information by text message, which was receivedon the smart watch of a staff member on the bench, or in other cases on a cell phone stored

Approximately two months into the 2017 season, a group of players, including
Carlos Beltr├ín, discussed that the team could improve on decoding opposing teams’ signs and communicating the signs to the batter. Cora arranged for a video room technician to install a monitor displaying the center field camera feed immediately outside of the Astros’ dugout. (The center field camera was primarily used for player development purposes and was allowed under MLB rules at the time when used for that purpose.) Witnesses have provided largely consistent accounts of how the monitor was utilized. One or more players watched the live feed of the center field camera on the monitor, and after decoding the sign, a player would bang a nearby trash can with a bat to communicate the upcoming pitch type to the batter. (Witnesses explained that they initially experimented with communicating
sign information by clapping, whistling, or yelling, but that they eventually determined that banging a trash can was the preferred method of communication.) Players occasionally also used a massage gun to bang the trash can. Generally, one or two bangs corresponded to certain off-speed pitches, while no bang corresponded to a fastball.

Witnesses consistently describe this new scheme as player-driven, and with the
exception of Cora, non-player staff, including individuals in the video replay review room, had no involvement in the banging scheme. However, witnesses made clear that everyone proximate to the Astros’ dugout presumptively heard or saw the banging. In addition to players using the monitor installed near the dugout to decode signs, employees in the Astros’ replay review room continued to decode sign sequences using the monitors in the room and communicate those sequences to the dugout for use when a runner was on second base. Both methods of sign stealing were used by the team in parallel throughout the 2017 season.

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