As a result of Major League Baseball’s investigation into electronic sign stealing by the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox over the course of the last few seasons, several big league managers and a general manager have been fired by their respective franchises. The Astros have fired their former general manager Jeff Luhnow as well as their former manager, AJ Hinch. The Boston Red Sox have parted ways with their former manager Alex Cora. Finally, the New York Mets have fired the recently hired Carlos Beltran as their manager before he even managed an MLB game for the Mets as he was given the job during this current offseason.
Apparently, the MLB determined that signs were electronically stolen by players entering the video replay room in order to decipher the sign sequences from the catcher. Those players would then provide that information to personnel in the dugout. Finally, the people in the dugout would relay the information by sounds to a baserunner who would use body language and body movement to signal the batter which pitch was coming.
The Houston Astros
The Texas team has been a major powerhouse ball club in the American League West division as well as all of Major League Baseball over the last 3 to 4 seasons. In 2017, the Astros went 101 and 61 in the regular season. They defeated the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees in the MLB postseason, and they beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 World Series. They were also great in 2018 and made it back to the World Series in 2019 eventually losing to the Washington Nationals. After analyzing their performance these seasons, they were much better at home than on the road especially in the playoffs as that was most likely attributed to the sign stealing scandal.
The people that were heavily involved in the sign stealing process were the players such as Carlos Beltran as well as their bench coach in 2017, Alex Cora. In order for MLB to discipline individual players that were involved they would have the nearly impossible task of proving it to the players union who are protected by the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA). So, the MLB decided to punish the general manager, Jeff Luhnow, and the manager, AJ Hinch, by suspended them both for one year.
The Houston Astros then in turn fired these two successful and key pieces of their MLB franchise. Although Luhnow and Hinch were not directly involved in the electronic sign stealing process they should have stopped it from occurring as they held the power over their players. In fact, Hinch reportedly knew about this scandal and did not do enough to stop it from going on. The Astros have not replaced those guys with a new general manager or team manager as of yet, but they should relatively soon as pitchers and catchers will be reporting to spring training facilities by early February of 2020.
The Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox hired Cora to be their manager prior to the 2018 MLB season. He led the Red Sox to a World Series Championship by defeating the LA Dodgers in late October of that incredible year for Boston. It has now been determined by the MLB investigation that the Boston Red Sox were involved in the electronic sign stealing scandal during the 2018 season. Alex Cora was then identified as an individual that stole signs illegally as the bench coach of the Houston Astros in 2017 and as the manager of the Boston Red Sox in 2018. The team fired Cora before Major League Baseball even formally disciplined him. Boston has yet to hire their new manager prior to the 2020 MLB season.
The New York Mets
After the conclusion to their disappointing 2019 MLB season, the New York Mets decided to fire Mickey Callaway and hire Beltran as their new manager. Beltran was implicated in the electronic sign stealing scandal as a player with the Houston Astros in 2017, and he was fired as manager of the Mets organization before even managing a single game for them. The New York Mets have yet to hire a replacement for Carlos Beltran, but like the Astros and Red Sox this should happen sometime over the next week or so.
“Neither one of them started this, but neither one of them did anything about it,” Houston Astros owner Jim Crane goes on to say, “We need to move forward with a clean slate.”
MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred, writes that disciplining individual players is, “Impractical given the large number of players involved, and the fact that many of those players now play for other Clubs.”
“I did not know rules were being broken. … The sign-stealing initiative was not planned or directed by baseball management; the trash-can banging was driven and executed by players, and the video decoding of signs originated and was executed by lower-level employees working with the bench coach.
“I am deeply upset that I wasn’t informed of any misconduct because I would have stopped it.”
“While the evidence consistently showed I didn’t endorse or participate in the sign stealing practices,” former manager of the Astros Hinch stated. “I failed to stop them and I am deeply sorry.”
Manfred said, “Failure by the leaders of the baseball operations department and the Field Manager to adequately manage the employees under their supervision, to establish a culture in which adherence to the rules is ingrained in the fabric of the organization, and to stop bad behavior as soon as it occurred.”
After initially using video-replay personnel to decode the opposing catcher’s signs via a center-field camera and relaying the information to the bench via phone or text message, Cora “Arranged for a video room technician to install a monitor displaying the center field camera feed immediately outside of the Astros’ dugout,” stated in the report.
Manfred explained, “The Astros’ replay review room staff continued, at least for part of the 2018 season, to decode signs using the live center field camera feed, and to transmit the signs to the dugout through in-person communication.”
“All clubs have been asked by Major League Baseball not to comment on today’s punishment of the Houston Astros as it’s inappropriate to comment on discipline imposed on another club,” according to the statement. “The Dodgers have also been asked not to comment on any wrongdoing during the 2017 World Series and will have no further comment at this time.”
“While no one can dispute that Luhnow’s baseball operations department is an industry leader in its analytics,” Manfred expressed, “It is very clear to me that the culture of the baseball operations department, manifesting itself in the way its employees are treated, its relations with other Clubs, and its relations with the media and external stakeholders, has been very problematic.”
He adds, “To an environment that allowed the conduct described in this report to have occurred.”
Manfred explains Cora’s guilt by saying, “Involved in developing both the banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs. Cora participated in both schemes, and through his active participation, implicitly condoned the players’ conduct.”
The Boston Red Sox proclaimed, “We collectively decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward.”
“We agreed today that parting ways was the best thing for the organization,” says Cora. “I do not want to be a distraction to the Red Sox as they move forward. My two years as manager were the best years of my life. It was an honor to manage these teams and help bring a World Series Championship back to Boston.”
“This is a sad day for us,” says owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, and CEO Sam Kennedy all of the Boston Red Sox. “Alex is a special person and a beloved member of the Red Sox. We are grateful for his impact on our franchise. We will miss his passion, his energy and his significant contributions to the communities of New England and Puerto Rico.”
“But but he plays the game the right way…” pitcher Mike Minor said sarcastically about Alex Cora.
“Alex, by his own admission, we agreed, played a central role in what happened in Houston,” Werner exclaimed. “And we all agreed that it was wrong, and we had a responsibility as stewards, as John has said, to have a standard here where that sort of behavior is not acceptable.”
“It’s not ideal,” says Henry. “It’s not what we would like to be doing at this point. We were all surprised to read this report on Monday. But this is … I don’t know if you would call it a logical conclusion, but this is where we are as a result of that.”
“Regarding the ongoing investigation here in Boston, MLB is doing a thorough investigation — as thorough as what took place in Houston — and we believe that all the facts will be ascertained,” Henry stated. “We would ask that everyone reserve judgment until MLB completes its investigation and determines whether rules were violated.”
“Absolutely, yes,” Kennedy replied.
“We met with Alex yesterday, and as John has said, everyone went into that meeting trying to answer the question, ‘What was in the best interest of the Boston Red Sox?’” Werner explained. “Alex was professional, understanding that he had made a mistake, so after a couple of conversations, we all mutually agreed that we needed to part ways. … He admitted that what he did was wrong, but that doesn’t mitigate, in our opinion, the extraordinary talent that he has. And we continue to be very fond of Alex.”
“I think Alex is an incredibly talented manager, and accomplished great things with us,” says Kennedy. “And he’s now — he expressed remorse; he apologized yesterday to us for the embarrassment that this caused. And I think, he’ll go through a process of rehabilitation and we’ll see what happens. It’d be hard to speculate, but he is an extreme talent.”
“There’s no question it’s an unusual time to be doing a managerial search — being at the point in the winter that we are, being this close to spring training,” Bloom stated. “It’s impossible for that not to be a factor in how we process, but it’s not going to be the only factor, and we want to make sure we do this justice.”
Bloom understands the new manager will be entering a, “Unique situation.”
“We would want to make sure that whoever is in that chair next has the ability to handle it,” he explains.
“In my past with the Rays, I worked with someone who would probably roll his eyes to hear me say this, but over time especially as [Joe Maddon] got some tenure on the job, became one of the older managers in baseball and then worked with one of the youngest,” says Bloom. “Everyone brings different things to the table. I don’t like to categorize people, typecast people. It’s unfair to them and in doing that, it would be unfair to us. It’s the sum total of all the characters that someone brings to the table.”
“It’s really disappointing. I told you guys on that day that I had really high regard for his talents as a manager and I still do,” Bloom exclaimed. “Unfortunately because of what came out in that report, it just wasn’t possible… Although I don’t know him as well as the other folks that were up on the stage with me, I would echo everything. It was very clear in the time we spent together and getting to know each other that he was an extremely impressive person and there’s nothing but sadness that this is where we are.”
“Well, of course it’s disappointing, but yesterday we all mutually agreed that Alex couldn’t lead this organization going forward,” says Werner. “And so we’ve turned the page, and after this press conference, we’re gonna address the 2020 season. So we move on.”
“We met with Carlos last night and again this morning and agreed to mutually part ways,” Mets COO Jeff Wilpon and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen explain in a statement recently released. “This was not an easy decision. Considering the circumstances, it became clear to all parties that it was not in anyone’s best interest for Carlos to move forward as Manager of the New York Mets.
“We believe Carlos was honest and forthcoming with us. We are confident that this will not be the final chapter in his baseball career. We remain excited about the talent on this team and are committed to reaching our goals of winning now and in the future.”
“Over my 20 years in the game, I’ve always taken pride in being a leader and doing things the right way, and in this situation, I failed,” says Beltran. “As a veteran player on the team, I should’ve recognized the severity of the issue and truly regret the actions that were taken.
“I am a man of faith and integrity and what took place did not demonstrate those characteristics that are so very important to me and my family. I’m very sorry. It’s not who I am as a father, a husband, a teammate and as an educator. The Mets organization and I mutually agreed to part ways, moving forward for the greater good with no further distractions. I hope that at some point in time, I’ll have the opportunity to return to this game that I love so much.”
“This has been a difficult week. Make no mistake, it’s been difficult for everyone involved,” Van Wagenen explained.
“When we met with Carlos, we had to make an assessment of, where do we go from here? And in Carlos’ thought process as well as ours, we both agreed that it was going to be incredibly challenging and incredibly difficult to do the job in a way in which he intended and the way in which he could utilize the best of his abilities.”
“Approximately two months into the 2017 season, a group of players, including Carlos Beltran, discussed that the team could improve on decoding opposing teams’ signs and communicating the signs to the batter,” MLB’s report said.
“I think the change was that when the report did come out, how prominent he was in it,” Wilpon expressed.