I think we’re gonna have a lot of Bullet-style stuff this morning, and you’re just gonna have to tolerate it! There are a few topics where there are so many disparate things we wanted to get into that this was the best way to convey the information.
OK, so this one is a whole lot of after-effect stuff from the bombshell punishment for the Astros, as well as the associated firings, and now what looms for the Red Sox (and Mets?) …
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, whom many around the game – including Commissioner Manfred in his announcement of punishment – suggest played a key role in establishing a toxic culture in the Astros organization, a culture that may have helped create the very cheating for which the Astros were punished, didn’t exactly accept any responsibility despite his statement:
Statement from Luhnow pic.twitter.com/RO8m8Rd7Pw
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 13, 2020
- “I accept responsibility, but let me be very clear that I didn’t do anything wrong.” Contrast that with manager A.J. Hinch’s statement – he was also suspended for a year and then fired – where he lays out much more clearly where he failed, even if he didn’t like what his players were doing:
AJ Hinch has released a statement:
“As a leader and ML manager, it is my responsibility to lead players and staff with integrity…
While the evidence consistently showed I didn’t endorse or participate in sign stealing practices, I failed to stop them and I an deeply sorry.” pic.twitter.com/yUeUa1oaU8
— Ari Alexander (@KPRC2Ari) January 13, 2020
- My guess? Hinch has a job in baseball again before Luhnow, and may even get another managerial gig.
- With Luhnow out, and assistant GM Brandon Taubman fired for his own misdeeds, the baseball ops department in Houston is currently being run … by the owner:
After firing the only GM he’s ever hired, Astros owner Jim Crane is now tasked with deciding the direction of the team’s baseball operations department.
His next move could go any number of directions: https://t.co/tCB4DHZS8U
— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) January 14, 2020
- It’s conceivable Crane, with help from what’s left of the front office, can successfully navigate what remains of the offseason, but they’re going to want to have a new baseball man in charge as soon as possible, because there’s a crapload of transacting at the margins in Spring Training, and then obviously a load of work for the draft and the Trade Deadline. (Might be time to make them a quick little offer for top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley, though, just to see what happens.)
- If you were curious about the impact of the Astros’ draft pick penalties on everyone else, basically their top two selections are being eliminated from the draft in 2020 and 2021, and everyone else moves up accordingly. They were set to pick last in the first round, so they lose that pick and also their pick at the end of the second round. Thus, for the Cubs, who pick 16th (and have no compensatory or competitive balance picks), only their second rounder will move up a spot, and then subsequent picks will move up two spots, with the bonus pool increased slightly.
- A lotta folks dumped on the punishment for the Astros – hey, fine by me, it’s an open debate – but I think it’s worth noting that the draft pick punishment not only is about the lost picks (the two highest picks in two drafts). That’s the bulk of the team’s bonus pool also going poof, which means not only are the picks themselves gone, but the ability to sign guys above slot – even a little above slot – later in the draft drops to almost zero. It really is a serious impact.
- The legacy for the 2017 Astros is now forever tainted – this scandal will be right there alongside any mention of the World Series in the future – and the same is probably going to eventually become true for the Red Sox when their punishment comes down.
- Given his key role in the sign-stealing scheme when he was the bench coach in Houston, everyone knows Alex Cora is going to receive a huge punishment from MLB. It hasn’t come yet because he’s *also* already being investigated as part of allegations that the Red Sox were using the video replay room to steal signs in 2018, when Cora was their manager. The Red Sox fired Cora last night. When he will be able to return to baseball remains to be seen. It could be a very long time.
- In the meantime, the other person most mentioned by the Commissioner was Carlos Beltran, then a player with the Astros. He is not going to receive punishment – no player will – because he cooperated with the investigation (and, let’s be honest, because the league did not want a huge fight with the players association). But are the Mets going to move on from a guy who was clearly involved in a serious cheating scheme *AND* flat-out lied about it last fall:
News story from @Joelsherman1 and me: With the #Astros and #RedSox having taken care of business in the wake of TrashCanGate, the industry's eyes turn to the #Mets and Carlos Beltran. https://t.co/cZKDFsTjTZ
— Ken Davidoff (@KenDavidoff) January 15, 2020
Here’s video of the Alex Cora soundbite we just played on @WFANmornings. This was following the Yankees’ sweep of Boston in the 2019 London Series. Check out the wink after he brings up Carlos Beltran’s name around :27 and unprovoked usage of the word “devices.” (h/t @Pacmangrig) pic.twitter.com/HgkglIoB7O
— Chris Lopresti (@CLoprestiWFAN) January 15, 2020
- There will be a lot of hard feelings and pissed off players around the league for a long time, not only because what the Astros (and Red Sox) did harmed other players very directly, but also because of this:
Over the last two months, some members of the Astros reached out to friends with other teams to assure them they didn't cheat to win. In wake of the Commissioner's Report, some of those friendships are fractured. Lots of anger.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 15, 2020
- Good reads on the whole situation:
People at every level of the sport bear responsibility for the sign-stealing mess. Column: https://t.co/UqU8qxyx5D
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 14, 2020
A look inside the sausage factory of power: How Astros owner Jim Crane navigated a cheating scandal and emerged with a penalty that left other owners biting their tongues after Rob Manfred told them not to say anything about it.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 14, 2020