Wednesday, April 22, 2020

'Rona-Free Hot Links, Vol. 12

*The Boston Red Sox got their slap on the wrist punishment from Rob Manfred and MLB: they lost their 2nd Round draft pick in 2020 and their replay room guy (J.T. Watkins) was suspended for the season and cannot be the replay guy in 2021. Presumably he can jump back in the replay room in 2022. Alex Cora, who has already been fired by the Red Sox, was banned through the 2020 season, but not for anything he did with the Red was his actions with the Astros that got punished.

Bear with me here:
Alex Cora was with the Astros in 2017, whereupon he won the World Series. The Astros, largely under Alex Cora, cheated in 2017. The Red Sox won 93 games in 2017. Alex Cora then joins the Red Sox, where they win 108 games on the way to the World Series and their team OPS went up 56 points from .736 to .792. (The American League's OPS as a whole...dropped, from .753 to .734 from 2017 to 2018). But Manfred says Cora didn't know about this scheme.

Manfred, however, had this golden nugget of a truth bomb:
The evidence uncovered during the investigation is insufficient to conclude that the conduct continued in the 2018 Postseason or 2019 regular season.

Read the full report here.

You can read Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal's report here. Tom Verducci notes that J.T. Watkins was also the Red Sox' advance scout.

Reminder, from Manfred's report on the Astros in January (which I swear was five years ago):
Cora was 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.

Okay. So obviously wanting the Red Sox to get absolutely slammed has a little something to do with the Astros. But the Red Sox didn't have a Mike Fiers. Remember that it was the Red Sox players (notably, J.D. Martinez and Chris Sale) who were among the first non-Astros to say, "Hey, let's start moving on from this story." And obviously, the Red Sox getting their [squints] replay room guy suspended does not absolve the Astros of their guilt. But come on. MLB investigates for three months and it's the replay room guy who takes the fall? I will never excuse the Astros for putting a cloud in my brain over the best thing that's ever happened to me as a sports fan. But Manfred's gotta be kidding me with this. 44 players talked to Manfred in the Red Sox "investigation," 30 said they didn't know. How is that possible? If anything, what Manfred did today was to confirm (again, this is my personal opinion, and if you have read Este Bolgo regularly then you know that I think very highly of my personal opinion) that he had no interest in Getting To The Bottom of Sign-Stealing. It's all the doing of the 2017 Astros. That's where this investigation started and stopped. Manfred said it when he noted that Cora was banned because of what he did with the Astros. Also: they want me to believe that a guy drafted by the Red Sox out of WEST POINT just decided, on his own, to start picking signs from his unique position of being able to do exactly that without letting Cora or anyone else know about it? Manfred is all about punishing the Astros, who have a nationwide market share of approximately 1%, instead of the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, all of whom are the favorite teams of Cowboys, Lakers, Clemson footbaw, and Duke basketball fans. FOH, Rob Manfred.

Yahoo's Tim Brown: Scapegoating the replay room guy puts his peers in a tight spot.

*Inside the lawsuit brought against MLB over ticket refunds.

*God, that 2015 Brewers trade (Hader, Adrian Houser for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers) just gets worse every day.

*The World Series, Scooter Rides, and an $89 Suit: The Tales of Terry Francona.

*The A's offered Michael Jordan a 25-Man Roster spot.

*FanGraphs' Dan Szymborski did a ZiPS dive on one of my favorite non-Astros: Eric Davis.

*If you could have season tickets to any one team's individual season, what would it be?

*From May 2019: How a lone Norwegian trader shook the world's financial system.

*From April 2019 and a Friend of Astros County Steven Goldman: Baseball's Unwritten Rules are the Vestiges of a Drunk and Violent Sport.

Each day is better than the next.