The Journal Gazette
Thursday, January 16, 2020 1:00 am


Eyes turn to Beltran in sign-stealing saga

Mets manager's future murky

Associated Press

BOSTON – The Boston Red Sox insist they won the 2018 World Series fairly, even as they begin their search for a new manager after Alex Cora was let go for his role in a sign-stealing scandal.

Cora left the team Tuesday after baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred identified him as the ringleader in a cheating scheme with the 2017 Houston Astros. Cora took over in Boston the next year, leading the team to a franchise-record 108 victories and the World Series title.

Major League Baseball is investigating whether Cora set up a similar cheating system in Boston. No conclusions have been reached, the team said.

“We would ask that everyone to reserve judgment until MLB completes its investigation and determines whether rules were violated,” owner John Henry said. “I can tell you that we are working with baseball to the fullest extent possible.”

Henry said Cora agreed to step down because the two sides agreed that he could not continue to lead the team. Team president Sam Kennedy said he anticipated a day that Cora would return to baseball.

“Alex is an incredibly talented manager and accomplished great things with us,” Kennedy said. “He expressed remorse. He apologized yesterday to us for the embarrassment that this caused. And I think he'll go through a process of rehabilitation. And so we'll see what happens.”

Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said he has not had time to create a list of potential candidates to replace Cora.

While the Astros and Red Sox took decisive action in jettisoning their managers after Major League Baseball concluded they were involved in nefarious sign stealing, the New York Mets have stayed silent on Carlos BeltrŠn's future.

Houston fired AJ Hinch one hour after Manfred released his findings Monday. Boston's management took 291/2 hours to announce Cora's departure Tuesday.

BeltrŠn remains in limbo, with the Mets refusing to say whether their new manager stays or goes.

In Manfred's nine-page statement, BeltrŠn was the only player identified as a participant in the cheating scheme.

“They have to fire Carlos BeltrŠn,” a former New York Yankees teammate, Mark Teixeira, said Wednesday on ESPN, where he works as an analyst. “There's no way that Carlos BeltrŠn, especially in the pressure cooker of New York, there's no way he can be the manager of the Mets. ... You cannot have that guy lead your team. The New York papers, the Daily News and the (New York) Post and all of the tabloids, will eat up Carlos BeltrŠn every single day until he's fired.”

Cora was Houston's bench coach in 2017 and the instigator of the Astros' use of a camera in center field and monitor near the dugout to steal catchers' signals.

“Approximately two months into the 2017 season, a group of players, including Carlos BeltrŠn, discussed that the team could improve on decoding opposing teams' signs and communicating the signs to the batter,” Manfred wrote.

Hinch and Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow received one-season suspensions before owner Jim Crane fired them. Manfred decided not to discipline players – 2017 was BeltrŠn's final season.

Mets management must ponder whether BeltrŠn can be an effective leader given his behavior. Would young players view him as a cheater pushing them to break the rules? Would BeltrŠn turn timid, afraid of attracting scrutiny from MLB investigators?

What would be the benefit of sticking with BeltrŠn, who has no previous managerial experience?

Red Sox chairman Tom Werner concluded Cora could not remain in Boston because of similar circumstances.

“Alex by his own admission, and we agreed, played a central role in what went on in Houston,” Werner said. “We all agreed that it was wrong and that we had a responsibility as stewards, as John had said, to have a standard here where that sort of behavior is not acceptable.”

Kennedy said it wasn't a close call.

“While it was difficult personally for a lot of people, professionally it was ultimately an easy decision for the Red Sox and for Alex. It was a mutual decision,” Kennedy said. “Alex came to the conclusion that he could not effectively lead the organization going forward in light of the commissioner's findings and the ruling. And we came to that conclusion as well.”

BeltrŠn's playing time with the Mets is best remembered for when he walked away – from home plate after taking a called third strike from St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright that ended a 3-1 loss in Game 7 of the 2006 NL Championship Series with the based loaded.

As Mets manager, he might be none and done.

“I wish Carlos BeltrŠn had the signs after I walked in the 2006 playoffs,” tweeted former Met Paul LoDuca, whose walk loaded the bases and brought BeltrŠn to the plate.

Extra bases

Texas reunited with catcher Robinson Chirinos and added third baseman Todd Frazier after completing one-year deals with the free agents.†Chirinos and Frazier both got contracts that included club options for 2021.†Later, the Rangers†acquired first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis from Boston in a trade that sent left-hander Jeffrey Springs to the Red Sox. To make room for Springs, the Red Sox designated left-hander Bobby Poyner for assignment.

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