J.D. Martinez Says MLB ‘Had to Do Something’ When Punishing Red Sox Even Though ‘They Really Didn’t Find Anything’

Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez has had a few weeks to think about the punishment his team received from Major League Baseball for what they did during the 2018 regular season, and quite frankly, he’s still not happy about it.

On April 22nd, MLB released its findings into the 2018 Red Sox, resulting in the club losing their second-round pick in this year’s amateur draft while video replay coordinator J.T. Watkins was suspended without pay for the 2020 season.

Some may think that Boston got off light in this case given their previous offenses, but Martinez was having none of it while talking to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham on Wednesday.

“If they went to court with that, it would get thrown out,” Martinez said. “There was nothing there. The judge would laugh.”

The 32-year-old was one of the first Sox players to defend his team’s actions and proclaim innocence back in January. Now that the results have since been released, and the league found that any advantage the Red Sox had was “limited in scope and impact,” Martinez could feel some sense of vindication here.

He could have gone the “See, I told you so” route while speaking with Abraham, but he instead decided to defend Watkins.

“That pissed me off. It wasn’t right,” Martinez said of the former Red Sox farmhand’s punishment handed down by commissioner Rob Manfred. “They just ruined this guy’s career with no evidence.”

What could be the reason behind this? Well, Martinez believes that since this was not the Sox’ first rodeo in terms of dealing with discipline from MLB, Manfred felt inclined “to do something” even though “they really didn’t find anything.”

There is a distinct possibility that Watkins was used as a scapegoat in this case to prevent the league from looking worse than it has in the months since the 2019 season came to a close last October. However, it seems unlikely that we will ever know the full story if there is another version to be told, at least not for a while, anyway.

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.

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 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 Used Video Room Illegally in 2018, per Report

The Red Sox reportedly used their video replay room illegally during the 2018 season, according to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal.

According to one source who was with the Red Sox during the 2018 season, the club, under new manager Alex Cora, employed a system where, “A staff member in the Red Sox’s video replay room would tell a player the current sign sequence. The player would return to the dugout, delivering the message on foot, rather than through a wearable device or a phone.” Then, “Someone in the [Red Sox’] dugout would relay the information to the baserunner, leaving the runner with two easy steps: Watch the catcher’s signs and, with body movements, tell the hitter what’s coming.”

The baserunner, either on first or second base in this case, would step off the bag with either his left or right foot to let the hitter at the plate know what type of pitch was coming.

If the opposition managed to change up their signs in the middle of a game, the Red Sox would send a player from the dugout to the video replay room to decipher the new signals. A process that surely did not take all that long, as Boston’s video room is just a few feet away from the dugout entrance.

Rosenthal does note that Major League Baseball began to implement in-game, in-person video security at the start of the 2018 postseason play, and club sources did say that, “this system did not appear to be effective or even viable,” that October, when the Red Sox went on to win the World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games.

Despite that though, one Red Sox source did tell The Athletic that the team had video monitors in their “back pocket,” meaning they could still act if they could still turn to the video if they felt inclined to do so.

This news comes nearly two months after Drellich and Rosenthal reported that three major-league managers, including Cora, were a part of the league’s investigation into the Astros stealing signs in 2017.

At that time, Cora served as Houston’s bench coach under AJ Hinch, and the third-year manager did not comment about the ongoing investigation at the Winter Meetings in San Diego last month.

As things stand right now, it seems as though this drama could drag out for quite some time. Stay tuned if more information becomes available in the meantime.

Red Sox Manager Alex Cora Reportedly Played ‘Key Role’ in Astros’ Sign Stealing Fiasco in 2017

Red Sox manager Alex Cora will be interviewed by Major League Baseball as part of the league’s investigation into the Houston Astros stealing signs throughout the 2017 season, per The Athletic’s Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal.

According to the report, Cora, “played a key role in devising the sign-stealing system the team used that season.”

Cora served as bench coach under manager A.J. Hinch during the Astros’ World Series-winning campaign in 2017. New Mets manager Carlos Beltran, who played his final season with Houston as the team’s designated hitter, will also be interviewed.

In case you missed this news from Tuesday, the basic premise is that the Astros had a system at Minute Maid Park where a camera was set up in the outfield so that it could capture what the opposing team’s catcher was laying down to his pitcher. With that information coming through on a monitor and some decoding of said signs, someone in the Astros dugout could signal to the hitter at the plate what kind of pitch was on the way, which was done through making, “a loud noise — specifically, banging on a trash can, which sat in the tunnel,” behind Houston’s dugout.

This much was confirmed by former Astros right-hander Mike Fiers, who was with the club from July 2015 until the end of the 2017 season.

What does this have to do with Cora and the Red Sox? Well, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the league spoke with Sox bullpen coach Craig Bjornson, who came over from Houston with Cora back in 2017, on Wednesday.

Cora appeared on WEEI’s Dale & Keefe show on Thursday, and was asked about his involvement in what is currently transpiring.

“I appreciate the question,” Cora said. “…I have talked to MLB and I’ll leave it at that.”

As for what is in store for Cora and the Sox, more is sure to come as the league’s investigation progresses, so stay tuned for that.