The Mets are in need of a centerfielder this offseason, George Springer is obviously the top target. Arguably, he is THE top target for the Mets. The problem for the Mets is Springer will be that for several baseball teams.
One of those teams is his hometown team Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox not only offer a return to home for Springer, but they also have Alex Cora, who Springer developed a good relationship with during their time on the Houston Astros. Combine that with the Red Sox deep pockets (even if they cry poor), and even with Steve Cohen, he may be difficult to sign.
If that is the case, the Mets will need to look towards their Plan B. Perhaps the top Plan B option is Jackie Bradley Jr.
The positives with Bradley is his defense. This past year, he was the second best center fielder with a 7 OAA. DRS doesn’t rank him as high, but his 5 OAA did rank him as fifth best.
The OAA mark wasn’t a short sample size anomaly with Bradley’s 6 OAA ranking him 14th. His -2 DRS tells a different story. In 2018, he was at a -1 DRS. Really, when you look at it, there has been a wide disparity between how OAA and DRS views Bradley’s defense.
According to OAA, he’s a very good fielder, and DRS has him as slightly below average. Splitting the difference, from 2018 – 2020, Bradley’s 7.9 UZR is the fourth best among center fielders.
There is a potential reason for that disparity. As described quite well and in-depth by MLB Tonights‘ Eric Byrnes, center field in Fenway Park is very complicated.
No matter which metric you rely, it is a clear Bradley would be a significant upgrade defensively at an important position. That said, there is a debate as to how much of an upgrade he represents. There is also the issue as to how long he can be that upgrade.
Next year, Bradley will be 31. While he hasn’t show issues with slowing down per se, he has never been fast for his position. In fact, even at his quickest in 2018, his 27.8 ft/sec sprint speed was only 50th best at the position.
Really, Bradley relies upon positioning and a good quick jump to field his position. In terms of positioning, the Mets promise to truly fortify the front office, which would give him what he needs to succeed from a positioning standpoint. However, once he loses a step, his days in center may well be over.
That is very problematic for Bradley as he is not a very good offensive player. For his career, he is only a 93 wRC+. Heading into 2020, he was really declining at the plate posting a 90 wRC+ over the previous three seasons.
That indicates his 119 wRC+ in 2020 was a complete outlier. When you dig through the numbers, it was a the result of a wholly unreliable small sample size. His .343 BABIP will regress back to his .298 career mark. According to his Baseball Savant page, his hard hit percentage and exit velocities are in a three year decline.
This all makes Bradley a massive risk. He’s at an age when his skills will be in decline. That does double for his speed and jump. He does not have the bat where he can play at a corner outfield position. Really, where his bat is now, you cannot justify playing him everyday unless he is playing a very good to elite center field.
If you are the Mets, this should be a good indication Springer needs to be the top target this offseason, and he may be the player they need to go past their point of comfort to ensure he comes to the Mets. If not Springer, there aren’t really any viable Plan B options because it would seem Bradley isn’t one.
Last night on ESPN, there was a documentary about how Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chased down Roger Maris and each other to set the single season home run records. During this documentary and the ensuing hours, there was a renewed push and debate about inducting steroid users into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The arguments in favor of their induction remain as flawed today as they did when they were first made.
The first argument is this is a museum which cannot just blot out history completely misses the mark. The Baseball Hall of Fame recognizes these records and events. There is no editing these seasons from their record books. No, all that has happened is it was deemed they did not deserve the honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Remember, not inducting someone does not mean failing to recognize a period in baseball history or that it makes the Hall of Fame incomplete. For that, just ask Pete Rose, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and the 1919 Black Sox.
The other argument is Bud Selig, the commissioner who purposefully turned a blind eye, was inducted into the Hall of Fame. What was funny about that is Tony La Russa, who really benefited from steroids with players like Jose Canseco and McGwire, was on the Veteran’s Committee which let Selig into the Hall of Fame.
Make no mistake, Selig’s induction was a complete and utter farce. He doesn’t belong there, but then again, for completely different reasons, neither does Harold Baines, who was also inducted by the Veteran’s Committee. Are we now going to argue since Baines was inducted anyone with a 38.7 WAR or better should be in the Hall of Fame?
No, of course not. With Baines, people are willing to admit it was a mistake which should not be repeated. For some reason, people can’t separate that out in their furtherance of their arguments for steroid users.
The other argument brings us to Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Specifically, people try to find a point of demarcation to say when they did and did not start using PEDs, and they then try to say they should or should not be inducted into the Hall of Fame based upon that. Of course, with Rose, the Hall of Fame doesn’t try to parse out when you did or did not cheat because that’s just an absurd exercise to try to push an agenda forward.
Looking at Bonds and Clemens, you do wonder if these same arguments will be rekindled with Carlos Beltran and Justin Verlander, who before the Houston Astros cheating scandal were surefire Hall of Famers. On that note, you do wonder how the same people who vociferously argue for Bonds’ Hall of Fame induction could be so up in arms about the Astros cheating scandal.
If you want Bonds inducted into the Hall of Fame, you are admitting you have no problem whatsoever to ill gotten gains. That is well within your right. You are entitled to try to make arguments in favor of Bonds’ induction including but not limited to the classic arguments of everyone in that era was doing it (overstated), and that even players like Hank Aaron used PEDs (greenies) to achieve their results.
However, if you are going to make that argument, there should not be any arguments made in protest of the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal. None.
Sign stealing is as old a problem in baseball as PEDs. Likely, it has been around much longer. When we go back to Bobby Thompson and the Shot Heard Round the World, the Giants were using their own sophisticated sign stealing operation using the scoreboard lights to indicate to the batter which pitch was coming. In many ways, this is really no different than what the Houston Astros did by banging trash cans.
Another note here is we are learning the Astros were not the only ones stealing signs. In 2017, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox were fined for using bullpen phones and smart watches in their own sign stealing efforts. We’d find out when Alex Cora went to the Red Sox, the team took their existing program to the next level. There have been more rumors about the sign stealing process being far more reaching than just these three teams.
Really, when you break it down the Astros sign stealing it is no different than Bonds’ steroid use. The Astros did what others were doing at a higher level to win a World Series. Bonds did what everyone else was doing at a higher level to break the home run record.
If you want one rewarded for his efforts by inducting him into the Baseball Hall of Fame, it is hypocritical to take any issue with what the Astros did. Either you think cheating should be rewarded, or you don’t. If you want Bonds inducted, you don’t have an issue with cheating at all.
— NESN (@NESN) February 20, 2020
With Pedro Martinez, that’s now two members of the 2004 Boston Red Sox attacking Fiers for coming public. Maybe that team is over sensitive to benefitting from cheating as Manny Ramirez, the 2004 World Series MVP, has been suspended multiple times for PEDs.
In addition to testing positive twice, Ramirez was one of the players who had tested positive during the 2003 survey testing. There were 104 players who tested positive including Ramirez and Ortiz. To hear, Ortiz tell it, this was a conspiracy.
No, that’s not a joke. He actually told WEEI, “The only thing that I can think of, to be honest with you, a lot of big guys from the Yankees were being caught. And no one from Boston. This was just something that leaked out of New York, and they had zero explanation about it.”
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, he claimed it couldn’t possibly be true because he dislikes chemicals, and he never tested positive.
Of course, in the same breath he admitted to taking supplements from GNC. The never failed a test is a red herring too. After all, Alex Rodriguez never tested positive (like Ortiz did), and he was using PEDs.
Also like A-Rod, Ortiz worked out with MLB banned trainer Angel Presinal. Presinal was banned from the Majors due to multiple incidents where he carried and administered PEDs to players, and he also instructed them on how to avoid testing positive.
So, Ortiz wants us to believe his being named was a conspiracy, and that even with his working out with a banned trainer who provided PEDs and advised on how to beat tests, he never used them.
It’s probably also a coincidence Ortiz is criticizing Fiers and defending Manfred when he know the Red Sox were caught illegally using an Apple Watch in the dugout in 2017.
Of course, we don’t know if 2017 was the first time the Red Sox used it. However, we do know the Red Sox were caught up in their own scandal. That led to Alex Cora‘s firing. At the moment, there’s an MLB investigation and report pending.
While we don’t know how long the Red Sox were doing it, we do know they’ve been twice implicated in sign stealing. We also know they’ve had their fair share of PED players, and based on the 2003 testing, that includes Ortiz.
In essence, even if Ortiz wants us to believe different, in one way or another, the Red Sox cheated, and he benefitted from it. You’ll also note that while he says the someone from the Astros team should’ve said something in real time, Ortiz was very quiet about what the Red Sox did while he was winning three World Series rings.
Somehow, Ortiz wants to hold the Fiers Astros to a different standard he held himself and his teammates. He also wants players to keep quiet about cheating and benefitting therefrom.
How convenient for him.
In Mickey Callaway fashion, Rob Manfred had to go back out and speak again about Major League Baseball’s handling of the Astros sign stealing scandal. That was necessary because of how poorly the first interview went. To highlight just how bad it went, he referred to the Commissioner’s Trophy awarded to the team who wins the World Series as just a piece of metal.
While that was a big misstep, the biggest complaint remains the Astros players themselves, aside from Carlos Beltran, have faced no repercussions for their actions. On that point, Manfred reiterated the need for immunity saying, “We would not have gotten where we got, in terms of understanding the facts, learning the facts, disclosing the facts if we hadn’t reached that agreement.”
That agreement was between MLB and the MLBPA wherein it was promised if players were upfront about the scandal they would not face fines or suspensions.
When you actually look at it, Manfred did not need to give the players immunity at all. In fact, it was completely unnecessary to conduct the investigation, and by granting the immunity, he really just created a whole host of other problems.
Starting at the beginning, Manfred acknowledged there were complaints from other organizations. While he knew there were other teams, the one which came to mind was the Oakland Athletics. So there were allegations present which could have led to his office conducting an investigation of the Astros front office.
Keep in mind, MLB did not need to offer the Red Sox players immunity to determine the team was illegally using an Apple watch, and they did not need to grant Yankees players immunity to determine they were improperly using the dugout phone.
In order to prepare the report, MLB interviewed 45 individuals who were not Astros players, and they “reviewed tens of thousands of emails, Slack communications, text messages, video clips, and photographs.”
Within that information, MLB would have been able to ascertain information like the setting up of the center field camera, the texting of the sign data to Alex Cora in the dugout, and all the ways the front office used to steal the signs electronically and relay those signs in some way to the dugout.
While not included in the report, the Wall Street Journal noted MLB found evidence of the front office’s full extent of the involvement in the scandal. That included PowerPoint presentations and other data. While this gives what the Astros front office knew and did, including but not limited to the emails identifying players like Beltran, you could still argue there was further cooperation needed to find out what the players did.
Again, that did not require immunity of the entire Astros roster.
Remember, this began when Mike Fiers went public with the allegations. In the article from The Athletic, Fiers came forward with how the Astros players were banging trash cans to relay the signals. Right there, MLB had the information they needed, and they had a key witness who wanted to share the information.
MLB also had the opportunity to speak with AJ Hinch as well as other members of that coaching staff. There were players from 29 other teams they could have asked to come forward to share information they knew. Certainly, seeing comments from players like Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Aaron Judge, Seth Lugo, Michael Conforto, and Mike Trout, it seems players were chomping at the bit to get back at the Astros for cheating.
Overall, MLB could have discovered all they did without giving one Astros player immunity. The main reason is Fiers already came forward, and MLB had the ability to put the squeeze on the Astros coaching staff, which they did with Hinch.
In fact, given the implication that this was a player driven system, it would have been more effective to give Hinch and others immunity to divulge everything they knew. You could say the same for Cora, who was implicated in two scandals.
When you break it down, MLB did not need to give the Astros players immunity to undertake this investigation. Not in the least. It’s a red herring.
As an aside, unlike the Mitchell Report, it created more problems. In fact, with Beltran being the only one named, it created more drama and speculation. Right now, instead of feeling like the matter is completely handled there is rampant speculation about buzzers, Jose Altuve‘s tattoos, and other nonsense.
The real reason Manfred gave the players immunity is he didn’t have the stomach for a fight. Certainly, there was going to be one as the MLBPA said in a published statement, “the applicable rules did not allow for player discipline, because even if they did players were never notified of the rules to begin with, and because cases involving electronic sign stealing MLB had stated that Club personnel were responsible for ensuring compliance with the rules.”
In the end, the players weren’t granted immunity for investigative purposes. Instead, it was to avoid a fight. There are good reasons for that. By not having the drag out fight over the suspensions, you are shortening the cycle of the story. Additionally, with the CBA expiring next year, Manfred is effectively keeping some peace with the MLBPA while also fracturing the union a bit.
Of course, there are other unknown reasons to grant the players immunity. No matter what those reasons, MLB didn’t need to grant the immunity to players to conduct an investigation. Not in the least. Knowing that, there needs to be a further inquiry into what the real reason was as to why the players were granted immunity.
So far, Carlos Beltran and Alex Cora are the only 2017 Houston Astros who have had to face any repercussions for their involvement in the sign stealing scandal. That will change for 21 players as they will have to face their new teammates and explain their actions.
Can you name the 21? Good luck!
Marwin Gonzalez Jake Marisnick J.D. Davis Derek Fisher Tyler White Cameron Maybin Juan Centeno Tony Kemp Max Stassi Colin Moran Teoscar Hernandez Mike Fiers Cameron Maybin Charlie Morton Dallas Keuchel Ken Giles Michael Feliz Will Harris James Hoyt Francisco Liriano Tyler Clippard Jandel Gustave
The Boston Red Sox traded away Mookie Betts, arguably the second best player in baseball, for what amounted to an underwhelming return because the organization believes it needed to get under the luxury tax. This came on the heels of the team needing to fire Alex Cora because he was implicated in the Astros sign stealing scandal.
To that, Mets fans say, “You’re lucky!”
Since the Wilpons took over control of the Mets in 2002, the Red Sox have won four World Series titles to the Mets none. The reason is the Red Sox have competent ownership who will spend and allow their baseball people to run the organization.
The Red Sox got rid of Pedro Martinez towards the end of his career. The Mets helped accelerate that by forcing Pedro to pitch hurt to generate just one last big gate at the end of the 2005 season.
The Red Sox had a similar sell off moving Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett in a blockbuster where they got little more than salary relief from the Dodgers. The Red Sox took advantage of that payroll relief by investing it in the roster and winning the World Series the following year.
Meanwhile, the Mets cannot even afford to reinvest insurance proceeds from Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright. Meanwhile, the Mets get Gonzalez when his career is done because they won’t sign a big free agent, nor would they give Dominic Smith a chance much in the same vein the Red Sox gave players like Betts a chance.
Part of the reason for this is the Mets are run by Jeff Wilpon, who continues to prove he’s inept at running a franchise. That goes from assembling a roster to being the type of person who fires an unwed pregnant woman. He also opted to hire a former agent in Brodie Van Wagenen.
Van Wagenen’s first move was to trade Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to help get his former client Robinson Cano out of Seattle like he wanted. Later in the offseason, he signed his former client Jed Lowrie for $20 million, and so far, he only has eight pinch hitting attempts to show for it.
Van Wagenen was hired over Chaim Bloom, one of the most respected people in the business. Bloom was the guy who helped keep the Rays competitive while having significant financial constraints. This is exactly why Mets fans have little to no sympathy for Red Sox fans.
The Red Sox are run by owners who will do whatever it takes to win, and they continuously hire accomplished baseball people who win games for them. They find ways to move past their mistakes, and even when they make unpopular decisions, they offset it by trusting smart baseball people and spending.
Meanwhile, the Mets are cursed by the incompetent Wilpons who can’t even manage to allow someone to overpay for the Mets by over a billion dollars.
So, yes, Red Sox fans, trading away Mookie Betts sucks. However, you at least have Alex Verdugo, Brusdar Graterol, Chaim Bloom, and owners who will eventually spend. The Mets fans have a young core they love but won’t win because of incompetent ownership.
So, yes, Red Sox fans, it can be worse – MUCH WORSE.
Recently, Mets employee Jessica Mendoza and Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez publicly criticized Mike Fiers for telling The Athletic about the Houston Astros illegal sign stealing program. His speaking to The Athletic led to a Major League investigation and penalties being levied upon the Astros.
According to Fiers, he went public because he wanted “the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing.” As a result, knowing what he knew, he would tell his teammates on the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics about it, so they could be prepared.
What is interesting is whatever he personally did wasn’t working. Since leaving the Astros, Fiers has made four starts against the team in Minute Maid Park. In those four starts, he has only pitched 16.1 innings, and he has a 11.02 ERA with the Astros hitting .397/.440/.731 against him.
That included the Astros roughing him up for nine runs in 1.0+ innings in a September start. At the time the Athletics were in a dog fight for one of the two Wild Card spots. While the Athletics did capture one of the two spots, Fiers was left off the postseason roster. It’s very likely Fiers had had enough.
Notably, Fiers said he has strained relationships with his former Astros teammates because he shared the information to his new teammates. As discussed above, he also caught the ire of Mendoza and Martinez.
Mendoza said, “It was a player that was a part of it, that benefited from it during the regular season when he was a part of that team. That, when I first heard about it, it hits you like any teammate would. It’s something that you don’t do. I totally get telling your future teammates, helping them win, letting people know, but to go public with it and call them out and start all of this, it’s hard to swallow.” (ESPN).
Martinez echoed similar statements saying, “If you have integrity you find ways to tell everybody in the clubhouse, ‘Hey, we might get in trouble for this. I don’t want to be part of this.’ You call your GM. You tell him. Or you call anybody you can or MLB or someone and say, ‘I don’t want to be part of this.’ Or you tell the team, ‘Get me out of here, I don’t want to be part of this.’ Then you show me something. But if you leave Houston and most likely you didn’t agree with Houston when you left and then you go and drop the entire team under the bus I don’t trust you. I won’t trust you because did have that rule.” (WEEI).
At the core of what Mendoza and Martinez is saying is there are ways to do this, and Fiers did it the wrong way. Honestly, Mendoza and Martinez have completely missed the point.
Both have painted a picture of Fiers as a bad teammate who violated clubhouse rules by going public. However, they fail to speak on how the Astros were bad teammates for employing the system against him.
They wanted Fiers to work through this internally while ignoring the fact the Astros knew what was transpiring.
The Statement of the Commissioner found the General Manager Jeff Luhnow, “had some knowledge of these efforts, but he did not give it much attention. It also found AJ Hinch “did not stop it and he did not notify players or Cora that he disapproved of it, even after the Red Sox were disciplined in September 2017.”
As we see Fiers going internal was pointless as the Astros were aware of it, and they did it anyway. Parenthetically, this also assumes Fiers didn’t voice his concerns internally. But really, who cares? At the end of the day, top to bottom, the entire organization was in on this.
There’s another point to be made with the Red Sox discipline in September 2017.
This was much more widespread than anyone knew. As we’ve since discovered even with Major League Baseball issuing a penalty and directive, the Astros continued to cheat, and in the ensuing season, the Red Sox cheated again.
Also, to this point, we’ve yet to see Major League Baseball commission an investigation on par with the Mitchell Report. The Mitchell Report is instructive here because it was prompted by Jose Canseco‘s book “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big” as well as Mark Fainaru-Wada’s and Lance Williams’ book “Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports.”
The efforts to clean up the game were prompted by speaking outside the clubhouse. Supposedly, these are efforts Martinez now applauds even though he was a beneficiary of prior cheating scandals with his being teammates with Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz on the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.
One other point on the 2017 Red Sox punishment is it was private, and there was no further investigation into the 29 other teams. Had that occurred baseball likely would have caught the Astros in 2017, 2018, and the cheating which has happened since that MLB disavows happening.
As an aside, we haven’t heard Mendoza or Martinez speak out about how the current Astros players were all too willing to place the blame on Carlos Beltran and Cora. Apparently, they’re aghast at speaking out publicly, but apparently ratting out people who left to save your own hide and reputation is not worth criticism.
Like it or not, as we’ve seen with baseball’s handling of this and other scandals, we needed Fiers to go public. While you can fairly point out Fiers didn’t go public when he was winning a World Series, criticizing him for going public is plain wrong because his going public has ultimately helped the game.
More than that, after dealing with this issue internally with three organizations for three years, and nothing having come of it, Fiers finally did what had to be done. He went public.
In the end, if you want to criticize anyone for that, blame Rob Manfred and the front offices of the Astros, Tigers, and Athletics because it was their relative inaction which led to this.
How can it be the New York Mets still have not named a replacement for Carlos Beltran?
Keep in mind, the Mets are in a completely different situation here than than the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox.
The Astros knew the hammer was going to come down from Major League Baseball, but they presumably did not know or could be quite sure they’d lose AJ Hinch for the year.
Seeing the rulings, the Astros moved quickly, and they fired Hinch to not just attempt to turn the page on the scandal, but to also figure out who was going to be their manager in 2020 and beyond.
The Red Sox seeing Alex Cora‘s level of involvement and knowing he was likely going to face harsher penalties than Hinch fired Cora the day after the report, and they immediately began their search for a new manager.
The Mets waited a few days, and they yielded to what was really a vocal demand from a minority to fire Beltran. Keep in mind, the Mets fired Beltran despite his not being suspended for the 2020 season.
The Astros and Red Sox knew they were going to be without their managers, and they acted accordingly. The Mets did something they did not have to do, and worse yet, they didn’t have a replacement immediately in mind.
Consider, unlike the Astros and Red Sox, the Mets had undertaken a search this offseason to hire a new manager to replace Mickey Callaway.
The Mets know or should know who can be a manager of the Mets. They also know or should know who could handle this situation. And yes, with this being New York and the Mets, this is something which should have been contemplated.
Herein lies the problem.
They’re also not going back into their candidate pool. Eduardo Perez was one of the finalists, and he has not been contacted again. The Milwaukee Brewers see their bench coach Pat Murphy as an ideal fit, but the Mets aren’t repursuing him.
After reading Mike Puma’s report in the New York Post, the Mets are essentially paralyzed “as team executives try to deduce the best way to please the prospective new boss.”
While the Mets are scared about what Cohen will think about a new hire, they’ve failed to realize he’s watching them fumbling through this process.
Like all of us, Cohen sees the Mets being completely reactionary and not remotely proactive in their handling of Beltran. We all see the Mets fire Beltran without a plan in place.
The Mets could’ve fired Beltran, and they could’ve held up Rojas as their new manager showing us all their complete faith in him. We could’ve heard why DeFrancesco has the skills to lead the Mets starting in 2020. We could’ve heard about Meulen’s championship pedigree, and why they knew in the short time he’s been with the organization why he was the man for the job.
Of course, that’s not happening because the Mets fired Beltran without a plan. In fact, they fired him without having a clue what direction they’d like to go. The only thing they knew was Cohen was lurking on the horizon, and he was judging them.
When you break it all down, Brodie Van Wagenen’s and Jeff Wilpon’s entire handling of this situation has been inept, and with each passing day, they’re showing Cohen and the whole baseball world, they should not be entrusted with running a baseball organization.
With Alex Cora and the Boston Red Sox now agreeing to part ways, that leaves Carlos Beltran as the only individual named in the Astros investigation who is still employed in baseball. This means the heat is going to be ratcheted up on him.
Already, we have heard calls for Beltran to be fired by the Mets. We’re also seeing the media call for Beltran to come clean and tell the truth.
This is a sampling of the swirling opinions about Beltran’s involvement and his prior statements to reporters disavowing knowledge of the Astros sign stealing measures.
Specifically, Beltran texted Joel Sherman of the New York Post, “I’m not aware of that camera. We were studying the opposite team every day.” With all due respect to Andy Martino of SNY, it is hard to believe he wasn’t lying when he said this.
That said, it is possible he didn’t lie, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. The media believes Beltran lied to them and their brethren, and they are owed a correction.
To be fair, the reporters have a very valid point, especially since it is their job to seek and report the truth. However, the problem is it appears Beltran isn’t permitted to say anything at all.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) January 14, 2020
As we see with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Major League Baseball has requested the Dodgers and all of baseball “not to comment on any wrongdoings during the 2017 World Series.”
As reported by Jeff Passan of ESPN, “Multiple ownership-level sources told ESPN that dissatisfaction with the penalties had emerged following a conference call with Manfred, in which he explained how the Astros would be disciplined, then told teams to keep their thoughts to themselves.”
Effectively speaking, for better or worse, Major League Baseball has placed a gag order on everyone. If that is truly the case, it is eminently possible, how could Beltrán possibly speak to the press about his involvement?
More to the point, why would Beltrán potentially incur Major League Baseball’s wrath by speaking at a time when Baseball very clearly wants no one talking about the scandal?
At this moment, Beltran is really awaiting direction from Major League Baseball, and more importantly, direction from the New York Mets. Keep in mind, if the Mets wanted Beltran to speak, he would’ve already spoken.
In the end, the calls for Beltran are all well and good, but at the end of the day, the Mets manager cannot speak unless otherwise directed by Mets ownership and permitted by Major League Baseball. Until such time, we have to sit and wait until he is permitted to say what apparently needs to be said. When that’ll happen is anyone’s guess.
Major League Baseball had concluded its investigation, and they have levied their penalties against the Houston Astros. This has led to the firing of AJ Hinch, and based upon what was contained in Major League Baseball’s report, it is safe to assume that not only is Alex Cora is eventually going to be handed his own severe punishment, but his days as the manager of the Boston Red Sox are likely over.
That leaves Carlos Beltran as the only current Major League manager named in the report who has not faced nor will face any discipline.
The reason behind Beltran not facing any discipline was Major League Baseball going out of its way to not suspend any of the players caught in the sign stealing scandal. In 2017, Beltran was a player, which means he is not subject to discipline.
Despite that, there has been a push for the Mets to fire their new manager. Chris Carlin attempted to conjure up Beltran being part of both a conspiracy and cover-up on his ESPN Radio program. It is also being discussed all over WFAN with Boomer and Gio as well as Moose and Maggie making it topics for discussion. On that point, like Carlin, Boomer said the Mets should fire Beltran.
While the topic certainly is going to drive ratings and discussions, at the end of the day, you really have to wonder why exactly the Mets should fire Beltran.
Right off the bat, you could say it is going to be a distraction. It’s a fair point as it is going to be a topic for discussion during Spring Training when Beltran meets with the press. However, that’s really only going to be it.
Remember, one of the purported reasons not to sign Jose Reyes was his domestic violence was going to be a distraction. It was for maybe a week or two. Beyond that, Citi Field was alive with Jose chants, reporters wrote articles advocating for him to be signed and to receive more playing time, and at the end of the day, he was nominated for the Marvin Miller Award.
Keep in mind this story will die quickly. In terms of Mets Spring Training, this scandal is going to die very quickly as the Mets have Yoenis Cespedes return and Jed Lowrie‘s health to cover amongst the myriad of issues which always arise in St. Lucie during February and March.
Of course, there’s an ethical issue to discuss. After all, cheating in sports (and life) has always been viewed distasteful, and an organization should not be led by an individual who is so willing to skirt the rules to their own benefit.
On that higher moral note, Jeff Wilpon has his own history of distasteful conduct including firing an unwed pregnant woman. The Mets eventual new owner, Steve Cohen, paid a $1.2 billion fine, the largest fine ever levied, for insider trading.
Like it or not, the Mets have not shown any had any sort of an ethical litmus test for their ownership, front office, or players. It would now be bizarre to hold their manager up to some standard not present anywhere else in the organization.
Beyond that, no one is quite sure what Beltran even did. Major League Baseball‘s report stated, “a group of players, including Carlos Beltrán, discussed that the team could improve on decoding opposing teams’ signs and communicating the signs to the batter.” It then said Cora devised the system and had the players execute it.
Be careful of what it did and did not say. It said Beltran discussed better decoding and communication. It did not say he was responsible for the illegal technological set-up, nor did it specifically name him as one of the players relaying messages. It’s possible he had a hand in all of it, but he was not specifically named for anything other than wanting a better system.
When it was the New York Giants with Bobby Thompson, it was the “Shot Heard Round the World.” With the Astros, it’s now being treated as the biggest scandal in Major League history this side of the Black Sox.
It is a slippery slope when you penalize and fire people for what you think they did. Honestly, many assume the worse with Beltran, but those assumptions are not present in the report. If you are going to take the position his even being a part of it is enough to want him gone from the team, the same is then true for J.D. Davis and Jake Marisnick, each of whom were members of the 2017 and 2018 Houston Astros teams.
Overall, Beltran was part of a team who cheated and won a World Series. After that, he was a member of the New York Yankees front office as an advisor to Brian Cashman. Knowing Major League Baseball was conducting this investigation and fully knowing Beltran may be implicated in that investigation, the New York Mets hired him to be their manager.
While some may want to trump up the report to be more than it was, fact is the Mets hired Beltran with their eyes fully opened. When they did hire him, Brodie Van Wagenen said, “Carlos has an extremely high baseball IQ. He has an appetite to collaborate and he’s a mentor, and he’s a communicator from the 25th man on the roster to the first. From our veteran players to our minor-league prospects, he cares about improving each player in that clubhouse.”
That is why he is the Mets manager, and even after the investigation all of this remains true. As a result, Carlos Beltran should remain as the Mets manager until he proves unfit for the job, or until he is further implicated as being anything other than a player who wanted to find a better way to steal signs.