Ron Roenicke Will Not Return To Manage Red Sox in 2021, Club Announces

Ron Roenicke will not return to the manage the Red Sox in 2021, the club announced Sunday.

Roenicke, 64, was named Boston’s manager back in February in place of Alex Cora and will have led the club to either a 23-37 or 24-36 record in 2020 depending on how Sunday’s season finale against the Braves goes.

In his lone season as the Sox’ 48th manager in franchise history, Roenicke was put in a number of difficult spots regarding both on and off-the-field issues he really had no control of, such as Mookie Betts and David Price getting traded to the Dodgers, Chris Sale missing the year due to Tommy John surgery, Eduardo Rodriguez missing the year due to myocarditis, and of course, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, in a statement released by the Red Sox, had the following to say about Roenicke:

“Throughout this difficult season, Ron’s consistency and professionalism kept the environment in our clubhouse productive and gave all of our players room to grow and develop,” said Bloom. “While we believe that, moving forward, we will benefit from new leadership and new energy, that does not diminish how strongly we feel about Ron. He is a man of the highest character who cares about our players and the Red Sox organization. As bench coach, he helped this team win a world championship. As manager, he showed poise and leadership in navigating an extremely challenging year. We are grateful for all of his contributions in our uniform.”

With the dismissal of Roenicke, Bloom and Co. will begin the search for a new manager immediately. As you have likely already heard, expect Cora, who led the Sox to a World Series title in 2018, to be the most popular name linked to the opening before an official announcement is made.

Former Red Sox Manager Alex Cora Speaks on Fallout of Astros’ Sign-Stealing Fiasco

For one of the first times since he was relieved of his duties back in January, former Red Sox manager Alex Cora spoke publicly about the fallout of Major League Baseball’s recent investigation into the Houston Astros.

Cora, who served as Houston’s bench coach under A.J. Hinch during the 2017 season, was handed down a one-year ban in April from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred for the role he played in the club’s illegal stealing of signs, not for what he did in his first year as Red Sox manager in 2018.

From the time he and the Sox parted ways, Cora has kept relatively quiet up until now, and he has a solid reason for that.

“Out of respect for the investigation, I decided to stay out of the spotlight. Talking about it wasn’t going to change anything,” Cora told ESPN’s Marly Rivera. “I deserve my suspension and I’m paying the price for my actions. And I am not proud of what happened. We made a mistake as a group, the entire [Astros] team. What happened was something that, if you ask anyone involved, no one is proud of it. We’re all at fault. Everybody. We’re all responsible. Everyone who was part of the team from around mid-May until the end of the season, we are all responsible.”

One thing Cora takes issue with though, is the notion that he and ex-Mets manager Carlos Beltran, who played for Houston in 2017, were the only two individuals behind the Astros’ misdoings, as has been thrown out there by former ‘Stros general manager Jeff Lunhow.

“There has been a narrative out there of what happened. Ever since mid-November until the commissioner announced the results of the Red Sox investigation, I have read many things that are true and many others that are not,” Cora stated. “Out of this whole process, if there is one thing that I completely reject and disagree with is people within the Astros’ organization singling me out, particularly Jeff Luhnow, as if I were the sole mastermind. The commissioner’s report sort of explained, in its own way, what happened.

“”If there is one thing I am absolutely sure of, it is that it was not a two-man show. We all did it. And let me be very clear that I am not denying my responsibility, because we were all responsible.”

Cora will be eligible to return to baseball in 2021. And with rumors of a potential reunion with the Red Sox ever prevalent, his thought’s on the club’s punishments, which included video replay room coordinator J.T. Watkins also getting suspended, are something I think many would like to hear about.

However, the only thing he really said about the commissioner’s report into Boston’s illegal use of the video replay room in 2018 is that it “speaks for itself.”

Current Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke, who was officially named manager by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom back in February, is under contract with Boston through the end of 2020.

As already mentioned, there has been plenty of speculation that Cora will return to his old post next year, but for the time being, the 2018 World Series-winning manager says “all I care about is my personal life and my family,” and he “absolutely” wants to return to the game in the future.

Koji Uehara, Chris Sale Reflect on Recording Final Outs of 2013, 2018 World Series for Red Sox

Despite being born on opposite sides of the world 14 years apart and despite throwing with the opposite hand, Koji Uehara and Chris Sale have something in common: They both recorded the final out of a World Series for the Red Sox in the last 10 years.

Uehara, then 38, did so for Boston against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the 2013 fall classic at Fenway Park, while Sale, then 29, did so for Boston against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the 2018 fall classic at Dodger stadium.

Uehara, a right-hander, got the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter swinging on a 2-2 splitter on the outer half of the plate, while Sale, a left-hander, got the Dodgers’ Manny Machado to corkscrew into the ground and whiff on a 1-2, 84 MPH slider.

Both hurlers wrapped up historic seasons for the Red Sox with those respective punchouts, and both hurlers recently spoke to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal in separate conversations about what they recall from those special nights in late October of 2013 and 2018.

Starting with Uehara, the Japan native was coming off a dominant season in which he didn’t even start the year as Boston’s closer.

Season-ending surgeries for Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey resulted in Uehara sliding into that ninth-inning role in July, and he did not look back from there all the way until coming into the final frame of Game 6 of the 2013 World Series with a 6-1 lead to protect.

With the chance to secure the Sox’ first World Series win at Fenway Park since 1918, Uehara retired Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso in simple fashion, leaving Carpenter as the lone obstacle remaining.

Upon fanning the Cardinals infielder on the seventh and final pitch he would throw in 2013 to secure his club’s eight World Series title in franchise history, Uehara reveled in what he and the Red Sox had just accomplished.

“I realized that I didn’t need to throw anymore,” he said, through team interpreter Mikio Yoshimura. “It came purely from my complete satisfaction…how fulfilled I was. I can still feel the ultimate happiness when I look back at that moment.”

According to Rosenthal, Uehara considers recording the final out of the ’13 World Series the ‘pinnacle of his’ professional baseball career.

Turning to Sale now, the Florida native was slated to start Game 5 of the 2018 World Series for Boston, but that responsibility instead went to fellow left-hander David Price while Sale would be available to pitch out of the bullpen that night.

“We were like, ‘We’re in,'” Sale recalled him and Price’s meeting with then-manager Alex Cora following Boston’s Game 4 win over the Dodgers. “Me and DP high-fived, hugged it out. I looked at him and said, ‘We’re going old-school tomorrow.”

Price delivered with seven-plus quality innings of work in Game 5, while Joe Kelly finished the eighth and the Red Sox entered the ninth with a comfortable four-run advantage.

Sale had begun to warm up in the eighth, but after Kelly got through the frame unscathed, he sat back down until he got the call for the ninth.

“I remember running in from the bullpen,” Sale told Rosenthal. “The only two things going through my mind were, I have a four-run lead and I have three outs to get. Don’t trip on the way in.”

Sale did not trip on the way in, and he mowed down Justin Turner and Kike Hernandez in consecutive order before fanning Machado on four pitches to secure the series victory.

“It was like the chain didn’t catch. It happened so slow for me,” Sale said of the first few moments after recording the final out. “It was almost like strike three, OK, click-click, game’s over, click-click, holy shit, we’re world champions, we just won the World Series. It was like a delay for me. I got the third out. I took a couple of steps. Then boom, it hit me.”

Just recalling what happened that night gave Sale chills, he told Rosenthal. As it should considering how the 119-win, World Series champion 2018 Boston Red Sox are one of, if not the greatest team in the franchise’s storied history.

 

Red Sox to Remove ‘Interim’ Tag From Ron Roenicke’s Title, Name Him Manager for 2020 Season

The Red Sox have removed the ‘interim’ tag from Ron Roenicke’s title, making him just the manager now, according to team chairman Tom Werner.

Roenicke, 63, was named interim manager of the Red Sox by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom back on February 11th, when Boston was still under investigation by Major League Baseball for stealing signs electronically in 2018.

At the time, the ‘interim’ tag was given to Roenicke so that the Red Sox could “respect the [league’s] ongoing investigation,” meaning that permanency would not be addressed until the findings were revealed.

A little more than two months after Bloom said that to the media, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s findings have been released, and while the Sox were handed down some punishment for what they did in 2018, Roenicke was exonerated, hence the move to officially name him manager on Wednesday.

Roenicke had served as Alex Cora’s bench coach the previous two seasons with the Red Sox. He has previous big-league managerial experience with the Brewers, where he went 342-311 (.508%) over a five-year tenure from 2011 until May 2015 that included a National League Central title the first season he was at the helm.

Although Roenicke has officially been named the 48th manager in Red Sox history, the possibility remains that Cora, who was cleared of any wrongdoing while manager of the Red Sox, could return to Boston in 2021 after he was handed down a one-year ban by the commissioner on Wednesday.

That remains speculative, though. For now, I just want to see Roenicke have actual baseball games to manage this year, whether it be in Boston, Arizona, Florida, or Texas. Let’s just get baseball back.

Who Is J.T. Watkins? Red Sox Video Replay Coordinator Violated MLB Regulations During 2018 Regular Season, per Commissioner Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred finally released his findings into the 2018 Red Sox and the club’s “improper use of the video replay room” on Wednesday, and fall guy or not, Red Sox video replay coordinator J.T. Watkins took most of the blame for what went down two years ago.

Watkins’ name is mentioned approximately 125 times in the commissioner’s 15-page report, starting with the following statement:

“I find that J.T. Watkins, the Red Sox video replay system operator, on at least
some occasions during the 2018 regular season, utilized the game feeds in the
replay room, in violation of MLB regulations, to revise sign sequence information
that he had permissibly provided to players prior to the game.”

Listed in the Sox’ media guide as the team’s advance scouting assistant, Watkins first joined the organization in 2012 as a 10th-round draft pick out of West Point.

An Alabama-born first baseman, Watkins, now 30 years old, retired from baseball in November 2016 after three minor-league seasons (he missed the 2013 and 2014 seasons while serving in the military for two years) and transitioned into a role with Boston’s advance scouting staff that winter.

A little more than three years after being offered that position, Watkins will be suspended without pay for the 2020 regular and postseason and will not be able to retain his role as replay room operator until the conclusion of the 2021 postseason.

Along with former manager Alex Cora, who was handed down a one-year ban for what he did as Astros bench coach in 2017, Watkins was the only Red Sox employee, player or staff, to be disciplined by Manfred.

Per the commissioner’s report, Watkins “was responsible for attempting to decode an opposing team’s sign sequences prior to and after the completion of the game, which was (and is) permissible under the rules. Watkins conveyed the sign sequence information he learned from his pregame work to players in a meeting prior to the game, or sometimes during the game. The issue in this case stems from the fact that Watkins—the employee responsible for decoding an opponent’s signs prior to and following the game—also was the person stationed in the replay room during the game to advise the Manager on whether to challenge a play on the field. (It was not uncommon for those two roles to be combined in this manner by Clubs in 2018). Therefore, Watkins, who was an expert at decoding sign sequences from video, had access to a live feed during the game that he could have—if he so chose—used to supplement or update the work he had performed prior to the game to decode an opponent’s signs.”

There’s a lot to digest in the report, which you can read in full here, but I did find it interesting that, “Of the 44 players who provided information, more than 30 stated that they had no knowledge regarding whether Watkins used in-game video feeds to revise his advance sign decoding work. However, a smaller number of players said that on at least some occasions, they suspected or had indications that Watkins may have revised the sign sequence information that he had provided to players prior to the game through his review of the game feed in the replay room.”

Despite losing Watkins as video replay coordinator for the next two seasons, it is fair to say that the Red Sox got off lightly here. So much so that Alex Cora will probably be back as manager in 2021.

All in all, it’s just nice to say that after three-plus months of speculation and waiting, it’s nice to say that this league-led investigation into the Red Sox is, at least to my knowledge, complete. They were punished for their actions, now it’s time to move on.

 

 

Red Sox Sign-Stealing Penalties Revealed: Second-Round Draft Pick Stripped, Alex Cora Handed Down One-Year Ban, and Replay Operator Deemed ‘Rogue Employee’

At long last, the results of the MLB-led investigation into the 2018 Red Sox have finally been revealed, and according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the penalties are light.

As mentioned in the tweet above, the Sox were docked just a second-round pick in this year’s draft, while team replay operator J.T. Watkins was handed down a ban through the 2020 postseason in addition to not being able to return to the same position in 2021, and perhaps most importantly, Alex Cora was also handed down a one-year ban through the 2020 playoffs, but only for his conduct with the Astros, not for what he did as manager of the Red Sox in 2018.

Per Rosenthal, MLB 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” and “acted as a rogue employee” in doing so. In other words, what the Red Sox did was not as egregious as what Houston did in 2017.

Despite illegally utilizing the video replay room throughout the 2018 regular season, “The league did not find that Boston’s impermissible conduct continued during the 2018 postseason or 2019 regular season.”

In a formal statement, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy addressed the results of the investigation Wednesday, saying that “As an organization, we strive for 100% compliance with the rules. MLB’s investigation concluded that in isolated instances during the 2018 regular season, sign sequences were decoded through the use of live game video rather than through permissible means.

“MLB acknowledged the front office’s extensive efforts to communicate and enforce the rules and concluded that Alex Cora, the coaching staff, and most of the players did not engage in, nor were they aware of, any violations. Regardless, these rule violations are unacceptable. We apologize to our fans and Major League Baseball, and accept the Commissioner’s ruling.”

The Red Sox and Cora agreed to mutually part ways back in January shortly after Manfred handed down his punishment to the Astros, which included the docking of first and second-round picks in this year’s draft, as well as a $5 million fine and one-year suspensions for then-general manager Jeff Lunhow and then-manager A.J. Hinch.

Compared to what the Astros got, what just got handed down to the Red Sox does not seem all that bad. In fact, it does not seem out of the realm of possibilities that Cora could return to manage the Sox once again in 2021.

For now, it will be interesting to see how long it takes Boston to remove the ‘interim’ tag from interim manager Ron Roenicke’s title.

UPDATE: Well I guess that answers that.

Red Sox Interim Manager Ron Roenicke on Not Having Any Games to Manage in Late April: ‘This Is so Strange’

In an ideal world, Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke would presumably be in his Boston home right about now, preparing for his team’s 26th game of the season against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

Instead, the coronavirus pandemic that has halted the sports world has led the baseball lifer to have no games to coach or manage at a point in time he would typically be doing so.

“I’ve been through some strikes, some lockouts, some crazy late starts in spring training, but nothing like this” Roenicke told NESN’s Tom Caron in a TV interview Tuesday. “This is so strange. I wake up every morning knowing and know I should be going to the ballpark and I’m at home. That’s just really weird.”

Roenicke was officially named interim manager by Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom on February 11th, so the 63-year-old had a little more than a month to make preparations for the 2020 campaign before Major League Baseball suspended spring training and delayed the start of the season on March 12th.

From that point, Red Sox players, coaches, and staff, for the most part, have all left the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers and returned to their respective homes.

Roenicke, a California native, still has to communicate with his players though, and that has been a lot easier to do now thanks to modern technology.

“With the players, it’s [mostly] texting and phone calls,” Roenicke told Caron. “I know Chaim and [GM Brian O’Halloran] are reaching out to some guys with some things on what’s going on. It’s a lot of text messaging. It’s hard for players also to be sitting at home during this time. Anytime we can be with them in a text or phone call, it’s helpful for them just sitting and wondering what’s going on.”

Although there is no set date for the start of the 2020 MLB season, Roenicke still believes three to four weeks is all his players need to ramp things back up.

“I don’t think we need to go longer than that,” the interim skipper said of the three to four week training period. “If MLB can give us a little bit of a heads up so guys can start getting at it more at their home or wherever they are, it certainly would help to speed this thing up.

“It’s the starting pitching, trying to get them stretched out,” said Roenicke. “If we can get those starters to start throwing some bullpens, even if they’re at home. Some up-downs. And we start up this thing, we won’t need those 3-4 weeks. It will shrink down, and if we can get them maybe three starts or something in a spring….That’s what some of the conversation we had with the commissioner, the managers trying to figure out what we can do and how we can get these starters back in shape.”

Per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, “Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke for one hour [Friday] morning with major-league managers” in which he “offered no specifics on how the season might begin.” That’s the conversation Roenicke was referencing.

Speaking of Manfred, Roenicke, like seemingly everyone else in the Red Sox organization, still does not know when the results of the league’s investigation into the 2018 team will be released.

“I don’t know,” Roenicke said. “I think there’s so many other things that I’m thinking about and just trying to think about getting the season started again. And also obviously concerned about what’s going on in the country with the jobs and with people losing their lives and the people that are sick. These things go on. Sometimes they’re easy for some people and sometimes they last for 4-6 weeks. So, hopefully we can get this controlled.”

That’s the same sort of sentiment Bloom echoed in an interview with WEEI last week, when he said, “It is obviously frustrating that we don’t have that outcome yet. But with what is going on in the last month I think it is understandable. I know the commissioner was on a timetable doing everything he could to wrap it up before the season. Sometime early to mid-March, the coronavirus took over pretty much of every ounce of everybody’s available time and energy. I think we’re still at that stage. We are hopeful at some point when everybody gets a chance to come up for air…I know the commissioner has said the investigation is complete and it’s a question of getting into the report. We’re hopeful there is time to do that so we can all see the results and move forward. I think you have to cut everyone some slack given our industry and everybody has been dealing with something we really haven’t faced before, something for which there is no road map and understandably it has dominated everyone’s attention for the last month or so.”

To watch the full interview between Caron and Roenicke, click here.

Red Sox Officially Name Ron Roenicke Interim Manager

The Red Sox have officially named Ron Roenicke as their interim manager, per the club’s official Twitter account.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the ‘interim’ tag in Roenicke’s new title could be dropped as soon as Major League Baseball completes its investigation into the 2018 Red Sox. That all depends on the results, though.

Roenicke, 63, had spent the previous two years as bench coach under Alex Cora and was viewed as one of, if not the top internal candidate for the position upon Cora’s dismissal from the post last month.

The California native was the only internal candidate interviewed by the Sox who had previous big-league managing experience, as he manned the helm for the Milwaukee Brewers from November 2010 until May 2015.

Roenicke denied any wrongdoing during his tenure as bench coach last month, saying that, “It would be concerning if something happened — that I knew I wasn’t part of — that I was brought into as part of that. I know what I do. I always try to do things the right way.”

If the ‘interim tag’ is removed from his title, Roenicke would become the 48th manager in Red Sox history. And with his promotion, the Sox find themselves without a bench coach for the time being. Perhaps Jason Varitek could fill that void.

Red Sox Planning on Naming Ron Roenicke Next Manager, per Report

The Red Sox are reportedly planning on naming Ron Roenicke as their new manager, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.

Per Abraham, the Sox are waiting for Major League Baseball to conclude their investigation into the 2018 team’s sign-stealing ploy before making an official announcement.

Roenicke, who would be the 48th manager in franchise history, had served as Alex Cora’s bench coach the previous two seasons.

The 63-year-old has previous experience managing, as he sat at the helm for the Milwaukee Brewers from November 2010 until May 2015.

Outside of Roenicke, Boston has also reportedly interviewed current third base coach Carlos Febles, Oakland Athletics quality control coach Mark Kotsay, Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach Luis Urueta, and former Toronto Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons for the open position.

The reason it has taken chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. to name a successor to Alex Cora is more than likely due to MLB’s ongoing investigation surrounding the club.

As an internal candidate who was with Boston in 2018, Roenicke could face potential discipline, but the California native denied any personal wrongdoing last month, saying, “It would be concerning if something happened — that I knew I wasn’t part of — that I was brought into as part of that. I know what I do. I always try to do things the right way.”

Despite this recent news, one team spokesman told MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo earlier Friday that, “Our managerial search is not yet completed. We will comment at the completion of the search.”

This is not to say that Roenicke is not the leading candidate, it’s just that it still might be a little while longer until an official announcement by the Red Sox is made. Until then, stay tuned.

 

Red Sox Have Not Asked for Permission to Speak to Mets Bench Coach Hensley Meulens About Managerial Opening

The Red Sox have yet to seek permission from the New York Mets to speak with bench coach Hensley Meulens about their managerial opening, per Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.

Van Waganen made this news clear after formally announcing that Luis Rojas, the club’s quality control coach, would be named manager less than a week after Carlos Beltran stepped down from the role due to being a key figure in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal going back to the 2017 season.

According to multiple reports, the Mets interviewed three internal candidates in Rojas (quality control coach), Meulens (bench coach), and Tony DeFrancesco (first base coach), to replace Beltran before ultimately reaching a final decision on Wednesday.

Going back to this past Sunday, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that the Sox had ‘shown interest’ in Meulens while he was still a candidate for the Mets job.

Now that that hole has been filled by Rojas, there are only two open managerial positions remaining in Boston and Houston.

In regard to the Astros job, owner Jim Crane has interviewed six candidates in Buck Showalter, John Gibbons, Will Venable, Dusty Baker, Eduardo Pérez and Joe Espada, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome.

There have been no links between Houston and Meulens, so perhaps now would be a good time for the Red Sox to reach out to the Mets bench coach about their managerial opening.

Of course, that all depends on the direction chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom wants to take here in either hiring a stopgap for one year before opening up a more extensive search next winter or hiring the ideal long-term guy right now.

Looking at his resume, Meulens, 52, has plenty of major-league coaching experience under his belt, as he served as Bruce Bochy’s hitting coach in San Francisco from 2010 until 2019. He was one of several candidates interviewed for the Yankees’ managerial opening prior to the start of the 2018 season and was named Mets bench coach last month.

The Curacao native also fits the mold of former major-league veterans who have gone onto become major-league managers, such as former Sox skipper Alex Cora.

When asked about the qualities he would like in Boston’s next manager at the Boston Baseball Writers Dinner last Thursday, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts said that he would want “someone like Cora.”

This is not to say that Meulens is comparable to Cora, because I really do not know if he is. What I do know is that Meulens does have a relationship with Bogaerts thanks to him managing Team Netherlands in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He also speaks five languages, two of which being English and Spanish.

Since the Red Sox have yet to be seriously linked to any other external managerial candidates, there could still be a long way to go in this search. Either that, or the club decides to go with an internal candidate, like current bench coach Ron Roenicke, instead. Plenty more to come for sure.