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.
On Thursday, the New York Mets took the nearly unprecedented decision of firing Carlos Beltran before he met with his roster let alone managed one game. It was not only an embarrassing day for the organization, but It also overshadowed Mike Piazza being honored with 31 Piazza Drive in St. Lucie.
Somehow, Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen would make things worse, much worse.
During the ensuing conference call confirming the firing of Beltran, and yes, he clarified it was a firing discrediting the “mutually agreed” press releases, he showed how haphazardly he has handled the entire process of hiring a manager.
First and foremost, Van Wagenen claimed no previous knowledge of widespread information about the allegations about the Houston Astros cheating.
There were reports about the Astros getting caught during the 2018 ALCS. There were rumors throughout the game long before that. However, Van Wagenen who represented players like Nori Aoki, who was on that Astros team says he knew nothing.
Taking him at face value, he eventually knew about it because of Mike Fiers statements confirming the sign stealing. Subsequently, there was a report in The Athletic specifically implicating Beltran. Knowing that, Van Wagenen said he still did not inquire further with Beltran.
More than that, after Fiers public statements, the MLB investigation, and various reports, Van Wagenen traded for Beltran’s former teammate Jake Marisnick.
Van Wagenen said in the conference call he did not speak with Beltran or Marisnick about the investigation, and he did nothing to brace the organization for the potential situation where he may have to fire his manager.
Taking Van Wagenen at face value, he ignored prevalent information, and he purposefully left the organization ill prepared for what they eventually did in firing Beltran.
Of course, much of this does not pass the smell test. That goes double when you consider he is good friends with former Astros manager AJ Hinch.
As an aside, during the conference call, Van Wagenen admitted to speaking with Hinch, which based on when it happened, may have been in violation of Major League Baseball’s rulings.
Van Wagenen has painted himself as someone who either didn’t know or didn’t want to know. That is something entirely unacceptable from a team’s general manager. That goes double when it happens in the course of the hiring of your manager who is a team’s most public representative.
Simply put, what happened with the Mets can’t happen.
They can’t have a GM unaware of widely held information. They can’t have a GM who does nothing to be proactive. It’s even worse when he has the means and connections to do it.
Thursday was as bad a day as it got for the Mets. In addition to the embarrassment of firing Beltran and overshadowing the team honoring Piazza, their employee, Jessica Mendoza, attacked Fiers for being a whistleblower. It should be noted Mendoza was hired by Van Wagenen.
Keep in mind, this was the latest embarrassing day under Van Wagenen’s tenure, and it was another day when Van Wagenen seemed incapable of handling bad situations.
When Mickey Callaway screamed at a reporter and Jason Vargas threatened the reporter, no team suspensions were issued. It took multiple times to get Callaway to apologize, and Vargas’ apology was never forthcoming.
While some have tried to paint the picture as it was an isolated incident with Jacob deGrom, it wasn’t. It happened on multiple occasions. When you look at Van Wagenen’s tenure, he’s already broken MLB rules, and he hired a manager who had broken rules.
Even putting aside what suspicion could arise from that, he has shown he’s not up to the job of being the general manager of the Mets.
In his short tenure, he got the Mets wrapped up into a scandal where his team was not being investigated or implicated in any wrongdoing. He has been ill prepared to handle problems which have arisen with his team, has broken MLB rules, and behind closed doors, he is throwing chairs.
Before you even address his poor player decisions, Van Wagenen has shown himself to be unaware of what has been happening in baseball and has made the Mets ill equipped and ill prepared to handle situations which the team should have seen coming.
Remember, Beltran was purportedly Van Wagenen’s hire, and his failure to conduct the NEEDED vetting before, during, and after embarrassed the organization and led to Beltran’s firing. Seeing Van Wagenen’s tenure and conduct, he should have followed Beltran out the door.
For better or worse, the Mets felt compelled to fire Carlos Beltran before he even managed a game. Accepting the Mets at face value, they were blindsided by this, and they believed this was the best thing to do for the organization.
Hanging over the organization right now is who is going to be the next manager? The longer that question lingers, the worse the Mets look, so it would behoove them to act quickly.
On the one hand, the Mets already did their homework. Beltran was one of several candidates they interviewed, and in the case of Eduardo Perez, some of the very good candidates considered are still available.
However, with all due respect to those candidates, including Perez who could be a good manager, the Mets put their vetting of external candidates for the position when they said in their conference call they were unaware of the widely reported sign stealing reports and rumors, and they did not investigate it nor ask candidates like Beltran about it.
Regardless of the quality of their vetting, the Mets went out and built an entire MLB staff under the presumption Beltran was going to be the manager. More than that, this is a group who has already been working together and formulating plans for Spring Training and the regular season.
It would at least seem an external hire would be counter-productive. This late in the game you would not want anyone reinventing the wheel. Furthermore, a new hire would like some say about a staff which has already been completely filled.
To that end, the Mets best course of action is to hire someone already on the staff. Looking at the staff as it is assembled, the best candidate by far is Luis Rojas.
First and foremost, Rojas has already managed the Mets core. In his time in the minors, he served as a minor league manager for Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, and others.
Rojas has had a hand in their development and success. Moreover, they respect him.
Looking at the complete roster, Rojas was one of the holdovers from Mickey Callaway‘s staff. In his role as quality control coach, he was a liaison between the front office and the clubhouse handling strategy, preparation, and utilization of analytics.
Rojas is already aware of the front office expectations are, has dealt with them on a daily basis, and he’s developed relationships with the Mets players.
On the latter point, Tim Healey of Newsday reports, “The Mets promoting Luis Rojas to manager would go over very well in the clubhouse.”
Overall, when looking at Rojas, it’s the smoothest possible transition. He’s respected by the front office and clubhouse, and he’s seen my many to be someone who could be a very good manager one day. Looking at it from that perspective, he’s the natural choice.
That said we should all be keenly aware the Mets didn’t hire him. In fact, he wasn’t even a finalist for the managerial position.
Presumably, whatever issues led the Mets to believe Rojas was not the best candidate for the job still exist. To that extent, it would not be the best decision to name Rojas the manager when the team had some reservations about his being the manager in 2020.
Taking that and everything into consideration, the Mets should name Rojas as the interim manager.
After all, anyone who is named now should be named as an interim. As noted, the Mets vetting had its issues, and they’re going to hire someone to lead a staff they had no input in its choosing.
Moreover, this is late in the game. In many ways, this is not much different than Beltran having been fired mid-season. In those circumstances, teams routinely name an interim manager so they can conduct a full scale search for a manager in the offseason.
Perhaps, the Mets should be doing that anyway as they will have a new majority owner at some point during the 2020 season.
As it pertains to Rojas, the decision has its benefits. It allows him to prove himself with some of the heat taken off. There will be fewer articles about the Mets rushing the process to hire someone who might not have been ready, and instead, there will be more of a focus on how he improves. Ideally, at some point, there will be articles about how the Mets should remove the interim tag.
Ultimately, the Mets firing Beltran has had them lose who they thought was the best man for the job. Other candidates like Derek Shelton have accepted positions elsewhere. This is a bad situation which can be made worse by rushing the process and hiring the wrong guy.
Accordingly, the best course of action is the smoothest transition possible with Rojas at the helm with an opportunity to prove he’s truly the man for the job.
There is going to be a lot to be said here and other places about the New York Mets and Carlos Beltran “mutually agreeing to part ways,” but one thing remains clear – the Mets were unwilling to weather the storm and stand by their manager.
Despite the Mets profiting from a Ponzi Scheme and selling the team to a person who has paid the largest ever insider trading fine, this is apparently where they draw the line.
Perhaps, it shouldn’t come as a surprise with Jeff Wilpon having been alleged to fire a pregnant employee because he was not married, but the Mets have stood by their people who have committed violent acts against women.
In 2004, the Arizona Diamondbacks fired Wally Backman before he managed one game after discovering his previous arrests for drunk driving and for a fight with his wife.
He’d be unemployable for Major League teams for years, and he’d have to resort to managing in the independent leagues. Eventually, the Mets brought him back to the organization and gave him a job for six years.
The Mets found a way to give him a second chance and stand by him. That applied even as he pushed Jack Leathersich‘s physical limits and might’ve had a significant role in Leathersich’s career altering injuries.
In 2015, Jose Reyes was arrested for a violent altercation in their Hawaii hotel room which led to her being taken to the hospital for treatment. For this altercation, he was suspended for 51 games and released by the Colorado Rockies.
Later in that 2016 season, the Mets signed him. They then picked up his option for 2017, and despite his being among the worst players in baseball that year, they signed him to return to the Mets in 2018.
Despite Reyes’ involvement in his wife being treated in a hospital, his poor play, and his publicly pushing for more playing time, the Mets not only kept him, but we also saw Reyes nominated for the Marvin Miller Award.
Backman and Reyes are not the only two individuals who the Mets have stuck by through the years when it comes to improper and violent acts against women. There’s other players, and Steve Phillips survived sexual harassment allegations.
Through it all, one thing is clear – if the Mets employee harmed a woman, the team would unquestionably have that person’s back even when no one else would.
For anything else, they’ll just see which way the wind is blowing. That’s why Beltran was fired before getting an opportunity to manage the team, and it’s why Reyes was celebrated by this organization.
ESPN baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza appeared on Golic and Wingo to discuss the Astros sign stealing scandal, and during that interview she made clear she had an issue with Mike Fiers going public with the information.
“To go public with it and call them out and start all of this, it’s hard to swallow.”
— Golic and Wingo (@GolicAndWingo) January 16, 2020
The part of her interview which is getting the most attention is her saying, “To go public with it and call them out and start all of this, it’s hard to swallow.”
While it should be clear Mendoza was not advocating or defending the Astros sign stealing, what she was doing was explicitly saying you do not go public with information about cheating.
Keep in mind, this was the first public statements by a Mets official since punishment was handed down by the commissioner’s office. While ESPN, the Mets, and Mendoza may want to couch this as her appearing on ESPN in her capacity as an ESPN employee only, it’s not that simple.
Mendoza is a Mets employee, and she is discussing what is a very hot button topic with the Mets right now vis-a-vis what the Mets should do with Carlos Beltran. On that note, it’s quite telling she wasn’t asked a question about Beltran’s job status.
The failure to address that issue puts ESPN’s journalistic integrity into question, and if the question was off limits, it speaks all the more to Mendoza wearing two hats in the same interview.
Overall, we are left with ESPN not asking a Mets employee about the biggest issue facing this franchise today, and we have a Mets employee, the only one who has spoken publicly on this topic, attacking a whistleblower.
This was just a bad look for everyone involved.
There has been this prevailing notion the fate of Carlos Beltran should be determined by how honest he was with the Mets during his interviews for the managerial position.
The premise is if he lied they can’t trust him, and he should be fired. If he was honest, they really have no basis to fire him.
For a typical managerial hire, this would be true. After all, many managers are hired from outside the organization. As we saw with Mickey Callaway, you only really speak to a candidate once or twice, and then you vet that candidate.
But that’s not Beltran.
Carlos Beltran spent seven years with the Mets. During that time, Beltran and the team had a tumultuous relationship.
Fred Wilpon based Beltran in an interview with the New Yorker. The Mets fought with Beltran over his opting for knee surgery. Overall, Beltran was there for good times and bad times. In fact, with two collapses, the Madoff scandal, firing Willie Randolph one game into a west coast trip, and Francisco Rodriguez attacking his children’s grandfather in the family room, he was there for some of the worst times in team history.
Beltran is close with Omar Minaya and Allard Baird, both of whom are assistant general managers. He played for Terry Collins, who is a special assistant. He also played for AJ Hinch, who is a close personal friend of Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen.
When you throw in Beltran’s personal relationships with other members of the front office like David Wright, and his playing for the Wilpons in all the seven years he played in Flushing, you realize the Mets know Beltran extremely well.
Based on that relationship, the Mets believed Beltran was the best person to lead the franchise in 2020 and into the future. A report where he was not explicitly found of any wrongdoing should do nothing at all to change that.
What happened with the Astros is a red herring as it pertains to the Mets. They know exactly the person who Beltran is, and they thought so highly of that person, they made him their manager. Right now, Beltran is the same person who interviewed for the job, was hired, and has been preparing for his first Spring Training as manager.
Don’t be fooled by moving narratives. Beltran is exactly the person they know him to be, and he’s not facing any punishment from baseball. As such, short of being instructed to do so by the commissioner, the Mets have zero basis to fire him for a supposed inability to trust a person with whom they have a long standing relationship.
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.
GM Jeffrey Luhnow and Manager AJ Hinch were not cited as ringleaders, but they were suspended for a year. After the suspension, they were fired by the Astros owner, Jim Crane, who was cleared of any wrongdoing.
While Crane was cleared of any wrongdoing, the team was fined $5 million, and we were told that’s the most they could be fined. They’re also losing their first and second round picks over the next two drafts.
Overall, Alex Cora was painted as the ringleader, and his comeuppance is coming. When that comes is not the only question this investigation and levying of penalties invoke.
Major League Baseball wants you to know that $5 million is the most any team can be fined by the Commissioner. That is partially true. According to Article II, Section 3 (e), the Commissioner is limited to fining a club $5 million for “each offense.”
The Astros did not cheat just once. As noted in the report, they cheated throughout 2017 and into 2018 (more on that in a moment). They cheated in at least 81 homes games plus the postseason. With reports Hinch smashed the televisions, they cheated each time they rebuilt the system.
This was not an isolated occurrence. The Astros cheated multiple times per game, and they reaped the benefit of tens of millions of dollars. Really, it was more than that, and in the end, they were hit with a rounding error due to a purposefully narrow view of the constitution.
On another note, Major League Baseball once stripped the Dodgers away from Frank McCourt due to how he operated his team, and George Steinbrenner was banned from baseball stemming from his attempts to get out from under the Dave Winfield contract. While it’s true this scandal may not have arisen to the level of stripping ownership away, it is also fair to point out there is far more than just taking away money that could be done to an owner.
The report goes out of its way to say he knew nothing. That’s possible, but it also says the Astros had a “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”
That culture was one established directly or indirectly by Crane, and yet, he was at least personally exonerated.
Now, it is very well possible he didn’t know what was occurring. However, as we saw with the Brandon Taubman attacks of a reporter, he showed everyone he did not care about what his employees did as long as the team was winning.
AJ HINCH AND ASTROS’ COACHING STAFF
It is just interesting how Hinch smashed televisions on multiple occasions to show his players how he disapproved of what they were doing. However, baseball also punished him for one year for his failure to tell his players to stop. In terms of the coaching staff, we are being led to believe it was only him and Cora (who is going to be dealt with later by baseball) who knew or had the power.
Why is it they all got a pass? Don’t the coaches have a similar responsibility to tell their players not to do certain things?
On that front, the report does indicate the commissioner is going to leave it to the Astros to deal with other employees, but seeing how Crane has responded to the questions, he’s done. In essence, Crane and baseball have no issue with anyone other than the manager and GM, and they want you to believe with them gone, the people who could conceive, carry out, and/or continue this cheating, are also gone. That’s hard to believe.
First and foremost, why was Carlos Beltran the only player mentioned? It was made clear he wasn’t the only one involved, and yet he was the only one singled out. Either name them all or none.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post has floated the idea of this hurting Beltran’s Hall of Fame candidacy, which is possible, while Chris Carlin of ESPN Radio has created in his mind a massive coverup and has demanded Beltran’s firing.
On that note, how is it whenever something in MLB happens, the Mets find a way to look bad? I’d also note why is it now incumbent on the Mets to fire their new manager?
ALEX CORA SET UP TO BE A FALL GUY
Reading the report, it is very clear Cora is going to be the fall guy for all of this. Not only was he with the 2017 Astros, but he was also with the 2018 Red Sox. As the report is written, we see baseball wants to make him the mastermind behind all of this.
The problem is the Red Sox were fined for similar actions in 2017, and as Logan Morrison said, the Astros had been doing this since 2014. Morrison also implicated the Yankees and Dodgers, which is interesting considering they are purportedly two of the victims of the cheating.
It should be noted Crane purchased the Astros in 2011 while Cora was working for Baseball Tonight in 2014. How are we to believe Cora did all of this when other teams did it long before he got there?
BASEBALL DIDN’ T WANT TO KNOW
If you read the report, Major League Baseball wants you to know the Astros stopped cheating during the 2018 season. That coincides with Cora being the manager of the Red Sox and Beltran working for the Yankees front office. Put another way, they were gone, so this was a convenient point to say the Astros stopped everything.
There’s a problem with that. Part of the reason there was an investigation into the sign stealing was actions by the Astros during the 2019 ALCS. Instead of banging on trash cans, there was whistling to tip off pitches.
It’s clear there was something still going on during the 2019 postseason. In fact, we heard the Nationals team was very careful during the World Series. Despite that, Major League Baseball wants you to believe this was isolated to just a little more than one season for the Astros and just the 2018 season for the Red Sox.
Basically, baseball is burying its head in the sand, and they don’t want anyone to delve further into the matter. We see that with reports over their threatening teams if they speak about this publicly. Overall, baseball wants you to believe this matter has been completely handled, and it is going away.
If the steroids scandal is any indication, acting like this is not going to allow this to go away, and in the end, people who are somehow lauding Manfred for his handling of the matter will be justifiably criticizing him.
With the Astros being stripped of their first and second round draft picks for each of the next two years, there is a real issue over free agency. With the way the rules are written, teams have to forfeit a draft pick. Looking at the Astros, they already have. Does this mean they can pursue free agents with reckless abandon knowing they’ve already lost the draft pick, or does the loss of the draft pick effectively mean they cannot sign players who have received a qualifying offer.
On that point, George Springer is set to be a free agent. If the Astros extend him a qualifying offer and he signs elsewhere, does this now mean the Astros have a backdoor way to get draft picks?
So far, that has not been made clear, which in the end, speaks to how haphazardly the report was constructed. Really, it was not about discovering the truth or levying penalties. No, it was about finding a fall guy and trying to present the matter as isolated and closed.
The Astros sign stealing scandal created a huge problem for Major League Baseball. By and through the commissioner, Rob Manfred, baseball wants you to know it conducted a full investigation, and really the matter is closed. They even had a coordinated effort with the subsequent firings of Hinch and Luhnow by Crane.
And yet, baseball purposefully did not conduct an investigation into the full breadth of the Astros sign stealing, nor have they looked into it across the sport, at least not yet. They also really failed to punish the Astros financially in a way which will discourage them or another team from doing this or something similar ever again.
In the short term, it does seem baseball is controlling the message, and they have placated many. However, with the way this was all handled, it should not be a surprise to any if these problems re-emerge in the ensuing days, weeks, or months.
In 2017, in a somewhat surprising move, the New York Rangers made Lias Andersson the seventh overall selection in the draft. He was supposed to be the first big move in a Rangers rebuild, and to some he was touted as a future Captain of the Rangers who could led the team to their first Stanley Cup since 1995.
So far, it hasn’t panned out that way, and worse yet, things only seem to get worse and worse.
Andersson struggled in his first year, but he seemed to learn some lessons from it. During training camp, he seemed to prove himself and earned a spot on the roster to open the 2019-2020 season. The optimism quickly soured with him not producing and the ensuing debate/drama over his being on the fourth line.
This entire situation led to Andersson being demoted to the AHL, where he again struggled. Eventually, Andersson demanded a trade and all together up and left the Rangers. Since that time, there was an active debate over handling of him and other prospects as well as Andersson on how he handled the situation.
Recently, Andersson opened up about what has transpired. In an interview translated by Blueshirt Banter, Andersson talked about how he is struggling:
There has been many incidents, but I can’t divulge everything, I will do that at a later stage. There has been many incidents that has hurt me on a personal level, things that has made me struggle mentally. In regards to hockey this might be an idiotic decision but I have to think about my private life too.”, Lias falls silent, “I feel like I have lost the hunger and drive for [hockey] at the moment – and all these incidents has affected me. I feel like I have to get this under control first and foremost.
Since the interview, we have learned more about the situation. Andersson was apparently skating on two injured feet, and there have been unspoken incidents which have troubled him. Another important note here is Andersson’s father has been clear this is not some temper tantrum about his demotion to the AHL.
Andersson is struggling with something, is dealing with injuries, and he is not yet ready to talk about it.
With hockey uncovering some bullying issues, especially from coaches, there has been some speculation as to what happened with Andersson with some of it being irresponsible. Still without quite knowing what happened with Andersson, there is a lesson to be learned here about how teams handle prospects.
Before going further, there is an interesting baseball parallel here with Dominic Smith of the Mets.
Smith was drafted by the Mets with the 11th overall pick of the 2013 draft. Since that time, we saw Smith show the tools to be a good Major League player, but there was a narrative emerging about his being overweight and lazy. In terms of his being overweight, you could see it despite his spending much of his offseasons dedicated to getting into shape.
As for the lazy part, aside from it being a byproduct of how some view overweight people, Smith would oversleep and report late to the first Spring Training game of the 2018 season. That seemed to be the final nail in his coffin as the Mets first baseman of the future.
After that point, the Mets went forward with Adrian Gonzalez to start the 2018 season. After they moved on from Gonzalez, the Mets looked to Wilmer Flores, a player they would non-tender after the season, at first base. All-in-all, they never gave Smith a chance to succeed, and eventually without a real direct competition, Smith was passed on the depth chart by Pete Alonso.
After the 2018 season, we discovered Smith had been battling sleep apnea. With it finally being properly diagnosed and treated, we not only saw Smith stay in shape for the entirety of the 2019 season, but we would also see him become an impactful player with a 133 wRC+.
With Smith, you are really left wondering how things would have been different had the team handled his development differently. It is the same exact situation with Andersson.
In recent years, it is becoming increasingly clear teams are not devoting enough time and resources to the actual development of players. While we see teams increasingly looking towards analytics and conditioning to help develop and improve their players, we are not hearing enough about teams looking to help players develop mentally, and/or learn to better handle themselves as professionals.
Many times, we hear about how this manager, coach, or veteran is going to take a certain player under their wing and help them fulfill their full potential. Looking at the Mets, we actually heard Edwin Diaz speak about his problems handling New York, and he was looking forward to new manager Carlos Beltran helping him better handle the city in 2020.
While a manager is supposed to be there to help, players need more, especially when a manager has to handle a roster of 25 players, a full coaching staff, speak with the media, and deal with the front office. It’s too much for any manager to handle players like a Smith or Andersson who are clearly struggling and need the help the team is ill equipped to provide.
The help can come in the form of a mental skills or life coach for the team. Perhaps every team should have a form of a stipend to help players seek the personal help they need but really cannot afford as prospects. Perhaps leagues need to have an ombudsman of sorts to visit minor leaguers to investigate how teams are being run and why they aren’t meeting their goals.
Point is, the Rangers have effectively lost a very talented hockey player in Andersson to something which might have been avoidable. The Mets almost missed out on Smith having a productive career for trying to turn what was a physical ailment into a mental problem. Clearly, these organizations and others are very ill-equipped to handle the mental and life skills issues of players, and as a result, we are seeing players not even be allowed to be put in a good position to reach their full potential.
That is a very real and significant problem. What makes it worse is it is avoidable, and it is time someone starts focusing on how to help these players instead of trying to tell them and everyone else what is wrong with them because clearly, they have no idea.