Red Sox penalties for "Spygate"

RedOctober3829

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 19, 2005
45,767
deep inside Guido territory
--Loss of 2020 2nd round pick
--Ban of replay operator JT Watkins for 2 years
--Ban of Alex Cora through 2020 playoffs, but not for anything he did in Boston

Major League Baseball’s ruling on the Boston Red Sox’s illegal sign stealing in 2018 determined the primary culprit was not the front office, manager Alex Cora or the players, but the team’s video replay system operator.

The league, in findings that will be released Wednesday afternoon, suspended the operator, J.T. Watkins, and docked the Red Sox a second-round pick in the 2020 draft. It also suspended Cora through the conclusion of the 2020 postseason, but only for his conduct as Astros bench coach in 2017, not as Red Sox manager in ’18, when the team won 108 games and the World Series.
View: https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/1253033743444586496
 

Ale Xander

Lacks black ink
SoSH Member
Oct 31, 2013
30,903
Cora in 2021 yay!
2nd round pick loss sucks but let's move on sign Mookie in the offseason and win it in '21
 

PseuFighter

Silent scenester
SoSH Member
Dec 22, 2003
13,334
11211
If there's no 2020 season, Cora would be back with no time missed (if they bring him back), correct?
 

JimD

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 29, 2001
7,479
Cora not being docked for anything he did in Boston is a pretty clear message that the 2018 title run was not viewed by MLB as tainted (not that I expect Yankees fans and others to agree).
 

Jed Zeppelin

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 23, 2008
38,549
There is going to be serious pressure to bring Cora back as soon as humanly possible, and for all intents and purposes such a move has just been sanctioned by MLB. I don't see any way Alex Cora isn't managing the Red Sox come Spring Training 2021.
 
Watching Vasgersian on MLB Network now. He said the report found no wrongdoing on Dombrowski's or O'Halloran's parts, and that they consistently communicated the rules of sign-stealing to nonplayer personnel within the Red Sox organization. Rosenthal discussing further details now.
 

canderson

Fomenting voting confusion and angst since 2016
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
25,850
Harrisburg, Pa.
It took this long to wrap up this investigation? Okay then.

Talk about a ton of wasted bandwidth for no reason, thanks MLB.
 

crow216

Dragon Wangler
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
16,748
Astoria
Cora not being docked for anything he did in Boston is a pretty clear message that the 2018 title run was not viewed by MLB as tainted (not that I expect Yankees fans and others to agree).
There were 3 components to the punishment, Cora is in the clear related to 2018. The Sox are still being penalized, though, so they did something, which is unclear but seems pretty minor. Personally, I could care less at this point. You'll have a hard time convincing anyone on opposing teams that Beltran, Cora, and Hinch should be MLB managers after what they did in Houston. Wouldn't have mattered to me what Cora did in 18/19.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
12,463
Maine
It took this long to wrap up this investigation? Okay then.
Exactly my thoughts. Seems like they were desperate to find something that wasn't there and finally gave up. Kinda feel bad for the replay guy. Feels like he got scapegoated for stuff that the players coordinated, and MLB couldn't touch them so they slapped him around instead.
 

curly2

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 8, 2003
4,122
Losing their second-round pick (and the slot money that goes with it) is a small price to pay for keeping the top pick and not losing any international signing money.

Make that No. 17 overall pick count, Chaim.
 

The Gray Eagle

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
13,815
From the Athletic article:
Commissioner Rob Manfred found that Watkins, on at least some occasions during the 2018 regular season, illegally utilized game feeds in the replay room to help players during games — an undertaking less egregious than the Astros’ famed 2017 sign-stealing scheme.

The league did not find that Boston’s impermissible conduct continued during the 2018 postseason or 2019 regular season...

Manfred absolved Cora and his coaches from responsibility and found the team’s front office effectively communicated baseball’s sign-stealing rules to non-player staff...

“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,” Manfred wrote in Wednesday’s report. “Communication of these violations was episodic and isolated to Watkins and a limited number of Red Sox players only.”
 

santadevil

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2006
4,752
Saskatchestan
The biggest loss will be replay operator JT Watkins, I'm gonna miss that guy

Can we now call the the JT Watkins Affair?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Jan 23, 2009
12,463
Maine
I don't get it yet. Presumably some players were in cahoots with Watkins. Do they have an agreement with the players association not to name the players?
Players were granted immunity and presumably anonymity for "testifying" truthfully in the investigation. Same deal as in the Astros investigation. The only player who's been directly cited in either case is a retired one (Beltran).
 

crow216

Dragon Wangler
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
16,748
Astoria
It looks like Watkins was telling them different signs he picked up which is legal, but the way he picked them up was not legal. Players probably had no idea how or when he got them.
Yea, which....was that even happening during the game? If not, who cares if he did it prior to the game.
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
9,435
Cora in 2021 yay!
2nd round pick loss sucks but let's move on sign Mookie in the offseason and win it in '21
Can't resign Mookie unless they change their ruling on the luxury tax, or if the season in 2020 actually happens. Because they've said if the season doesn't happen, then the luxury tax does NOT reset in 2021, so the Sox would be stuck in the same place they were for 2020 - unable to absorb Mookie's soon-to-be astronomical salary.
 

nattysez

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Sep 30, 2010
4,665
Watkins played with Devers and Benintendi in Greenville, according to Chris Hatfield. So this was a former player seeing something on the video he was watching and telling a couple of former teammates what he was seeing. Not even sure losing a second-round pick is fair.
 

E5 Yaz

Transcends message boarding
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Apr 25, 2002
64,892
Oregon
Hinch's suspension counts as time served even if there's no 2020 season, so the same is likely for Cora
 

E5 Yaz

Transcends message boarding
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Apr 25, 2002
64,892
Oregon
Watkins played with Devers and Benintendi in Greenville, according to Chris Hatfield. So this was a former player seeing something on the video he was watching and telling a couple of former teammates what he was seeing. Not even sure losing a second-round pick is fair.
He's not a "former player" at this point. He a member of the Red Sox video team
 

tims4wins

PN23's replacement
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
24,613
Hingham, MA
I expect a media frenzy if Cora returns to the Sox after his ban. I’m not 100% he’s worth the fuss. I could be convinced otherwise.
If there is a media frenzy it will just be guys trying to get clicks, no different than before. The fan reaction is worth gauging. I would imagine the vast majority would be in favor of bringing him back.
 

nvalvo

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
17,389
Rogers Park
This makes clear the collision course between the replay review process and the rules against technological cheating.

It is okay for Watkins to steal signs from video before and after the game, as part of his duties as an advance scout, but if he catches something *during* the game as the replay room guy, it’s cheating? That’s a bit absurd.

Also, it’s adorable that he was working out the signs on paper, instead of automating the process like the Astros did. All in all, this is *quite* different than what Houston did, and kudos to the league for realizing that.
 

mauidano

Mai Tais for everyone!
SoSH Member
Aug 21, 2006
28,674
Maui
Can't resign Mookie unless they change their ruling on the luxury tax, or if the season in 2020 actually happens. Because they've said if the season doesn't happen, then the luxury tax does NOT reset in 2021, so the Sox would be stuck in the same place they were for 2020 - unable to absorb Mookie's soon-to-be astronomical salary.
Love Mookie as much as anyone else. This is the reality of the business now and some other team is going to have to carry that salary, it won’t be Boston in 2021 regardless of if a season is played in 2020 or not.
 

RGREELEY33

Potty Mouth
SoSH Member
Nov 28, 2005
4,241
Orange County, CA
I know a 2nd round pick in baseball is still a crapshoot, but for what MLB themselves are saying in this report and the actions they are taking (banning Watkins), a 2nd round pick actually seems like a really harsh penalty to me. So, the guy revised the decryption of signs using video replay during a game, told some players, it was not systematic and MLB is acknowledging it was merely occasional and management was not aware, and the franchise gets hit with a 2nd round pick? I get that MLB needs to save face a bit, but that seems a bit much.

Still, if Cora comes back now, it will be worth it.
 

edoug

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
3,391
I know a 2nd round pick in baseball is still a crapshoot, but for what MLB themselves are saying in this report and the actions they are taking (banning Watkins), a 2nd round pick actually seems like a really harsh penalty to me. So, the guy revised the decryption of signs using video replay during a game, told some players, it was not systematic and MLB is acknowledging it was merely occasional and management was not aware, and the franchise gets hit with a 2nd round pick? I get that MLB needs to save face a bit, but that seems a bit much.

Still, if Cora comes back now, it will be worth it.
It is the getting caught for the second time penalty.
 

curly2

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 8, 2003
4,122
Yes, if not for the Apple Watch incident, they probably get off unscathed.
 

cornwalls@6

Less observant than others
SoSH Member
Apr 23, 2010
1,861
from the wilds of western ma
The second rounder does seem a little bit harsh, relative to the results of the report. But, as you both pointed out, likely a "second offense" wrap on the knuckles. I can live with it, given the primary/hoped for outcomes were reached: Clearly differentiating this from what went on in Houston, no real punitive/franchise disrupting draft penalties, and there being no reason not to bring Cora back in 2021, should they so desire. Net win.
 

lexrageorge

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2007
10,293
Former players of that 2018 team were nearly universal that what happened was a big nothing-burger prior to all this. I found their comments revealing, in that they went beyond just "protecting the clubhouse" type denials that you often see in baseball. And, yes, it was a big nothing-burger. The draft pick penalty likely would have been lighter had it not been for the silly Apple watch nonsense of 2017.
 

mauf

Anderson Cooper × Mr. Rogers
Staff member
Dope
Should've just kept it the rest of the year. We all know Cora is coming back.
I disagree. Cora isn’t coming back.

Even accounting for the temptation to throw the guy who’s no longer around under the bus, it sure sounds like Cora was more culpable than Beltran for what happened in Houston. The Mets decided that keeping Beltran around was untenable. I don’t see the Red Sox making a different decision on Cora — especially since that would involve rehiring someone they parted ways with, rather than simply letting him serve his suspension and then return to his former role.
 

geoflin

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Feb 26, 2004
434
Melrose MA
Can't resign Mookie unless they change their ruling on the luxury tax, or if the season in 2020 actually happens. Because they've said if the season doesn't happen, then the luxury tax does NOT reset in 2021, so the Sox would be stuck in the same place they were for 2020 - unable to absorb Mookie's soon-to-be astronomical salary.
This is correct but I wonder what the free agency market will look like if there is no season this year. Teams will either lose money or not make what they normally make and I would expect the result will be that free agent salaries will take a hit. How much, who knows, but Mookie may not be offered anything near what he had expected to be offered a couple of months ago. It still may be more than the Sox are willing or able to offer. Side note and question - does anybody know what happens to all of the TV money the teams normally get if there is no season? One factor in the Sox favor - if there is a partial season the luxury tax does reset plus JBJ and his $10 million are likely gone, certainly gone if that money would make the difference in a competitive offer to resign Mookie.
 

terrynever

Well-Known Member
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Aug 25, 2005
17,495
pawtucket
This is correct but I wonder what the free agency market will look like if there is no season this year. Teams will either lose money or not make what they normally make and I would expect the result will be that free agent salaries will take a hit. How much, who knows, but Mookie may not be offered anything near what he had expected to be offered a couple of months ago. It still may be more than the Sox are willing or able to offer. Side note and question - does anybody know what happens to all of the TV money the teams normally get if there is no season? One factor in the Sox favor - if there is a partial season the luxury tax does reset plus JBJ and his $10 million are likely gone, certainly gone if that money would make the difference in a competitive offer to resign Mookie.
I agree. Except I would frame this in terms of the U.S. and global economies. If we fall into a deep recession or Depression, the owners are going to feel it. And it won’t be collusion if they low-ball free agents.
 

Mueller's Twin Grannies

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 19, 2009
6,424
There is going to be serious pressure to bring Cora back as soon as humanly possible, and for all intents and purposes such a move has just been sanctioned by MLB. I don't see any way Alex Cora isn't managing the Red Sox come Spring Training 2021.
I can see a lot of reasons, most of them being fans and season ticket holders who have convinced themselves that Cora is cheating personified and will pitch a fit if he's brought back.

It's unbelievable how many people have consumed that Kool-Aid and the fact that the Sox weren't completely exonerated is just going to be confirmation that the 2018 title was tainted and that he shouldn't be brought back under any circumstances, especially if Roenicke does a serviceable job this year. There will just be this massive contingent of fans who believe he should be retained and Cora left excommunicated because Cora doesn't do it the "right way" (which for some may be the "white way") and it will create a circus and a division within the fan base. There are already people who don't like him just because he took up for PR and skipped the White House trip; they will get even louder if he's brought back.
 

RedOctober3829

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 19, 2005
45,767
deep inside Guido territory
I disagree. Cora isn’t coming back.

Even accounting for the temptation to throw the guy who’s no longer around under the bus, it sure sounds like Cora was more culpable than Beltran for what happened in Houston. The Mets decided that keeping Beltran around was untenable. I don’t see the Red Sox making a different decision on Cora — especially since that would involve rehiring someone they parted ways with, rather than simply letting him serve his suspension and then return to his former role.
Going back to when it happened and how it was characterized, I believe that Cora came to the Red Sox and offered to resign because of the PR backlash the Astros investigation was offering. I think it was warranted to part ways because of the PR hit and that there was a chance the investigation into the Red Sox would find he did it in Boston too. I think there still is mutual respect between the two parties. I go back to the press conference announcing his firing and the front office asking everyone to reserve judgment until the facts came out. Well, the facts are out and it exonerated Cora. After Cora serves his penalty for what he did as an Astro(not a Red Sox), why couldn't they bring him back?