MLB hammers Astros; Cora and Red Sox next.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Worked OT, and am watching the College Football National Championship game, so I’ll do a lot of cut and pasting here.

From MLB.com (edited) Bold is from me :

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were each suspended without pay for the 2020 season by Major League Baseball, which on Monday released the findings from its investigation of Houston’s sign-stealing allegations.

Approximately one hour after the penalties were issued, Astros owner Jim Crane announced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park in Houston that Luhnow and Hinch had both been dismissed by the organization.

As part of the penalties, Houston also forfeits its first- and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 MLB Drafts. In addition, the Astros were fined $5 million, which is the highest allowable fine under the Major League Constitution.

Former Astros assistant GM Brandon Taubman, who was dismissed by the club in October after he made offensive and insensitive comments directed at a group of female reporters at the conclusion of the American League Championship Series on Oct. 19, 2019, was also suspended for one year for his inappropriate conduct in the clubhouse. Taubman “shall be ineligible to perform services on behalf of any Major League club, either as an employee or independent contractor.”

The suspensions of Luhnow and Hinch are to begin immediately, ending on the day following the completion of the 2020 World Series. Taubman, who is currently not employed by a Major League club, will be eligible to apply for reinstatement at that same end time as well.

Should either Luhnow or Hinch be found to engage in “any future material violations” of Major League rules, the offender will be placed on the permanently ineligible list.

The report says the illegal sign-stealing was mostly player-driven, but it states that former bench coach Alex Cora, who is now the manager of the Red Sox, was involved in setting it up. Cora was not disciplined as part of this investigation, but the report states that he could face penalties at the conclusion of the ongoing investigation into allegations of illegal sign-stealing by the Red Sox during the 2018 season.

There were no penalties given to any Astros players as part of the investigation, though Mets manager Carlos Beltrán — who was a DH/outfielder on the 2017 Astros — was mentioned in the report as one of the players involved in the illegal sign-stealing. In explaining why no players would face any discipline, Commissioner Manfred wrote the following:

“Assessing discipline of players for this type of conduct is both difficult and impractical. It is difficult, because virtually all of the Astros’ players had some involvement or knowledge of the scheme, and I am not in a position based on the investigative record to determine with any degree of certainty every player who should be held accountable, or their relative degree of culpability.

“It is impractical given the large number of players involved, and the fact that many of those players now play for other clubs.”

Now the Astros need to find a new GM and manager. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that Astros bench coach Joe Espada (a one-time Yankees coach) is the favorite to become interim manager

As for Cora and Boston, be afraid. Be very, very afraid.  They may need a new manager soon as well.

Once again, from MLB.Com, once again, edited :

Red Sox manager Alex Cora was named by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred as a primary participant in the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme of 2017 and may face future discipline for his role upon the completion of an ongoing investigation into a similar scheme allegedly used by the Red Sox during Boston’s World Series championship season of 2018.

The Red Sox organization also could receive penalties when that investigation is concluded.

“Cora was involved in developing both the banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs,” wrote Manfred. “Cora participated in both schemes, and through his active participation, implicitly condoned the players’ conduct. I will withhold determining the appropriate level of discipline for Cora until after the [Department of Investigations] completes its investigation of the allegations that the Red Sox engaged in impermissible electronic sign stealing in 2018 while Cora was the manager.”

The two teams hurt the most are the Yankees, who lost the ALCS to Houston in a series where the home team won every game, and the Dodgers, who lost the WS to Houston in 2017 and to Boston in 2018. 

One last thing: with Hinch out, don’t be surprised if Aaron Boone is now the manager of the 2020 AL All-Star team.

 

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