Red Sox

Rob Manfred ties Red Sox, Yankees' sign stealing allegations to rivalry

Rob Manfred ties Red Sox, Yankees' sign stealing allegations to rivalry

BOSTON — Commissioner Rob Manfred on Tuesday acknowledged that both the Red Sox and Yankees are being investigated for sign-stealing but did not detail any of those investigations. A conclusion is expected before the regular season ends.

Manfred said that it’s his understanding that general managers usually settle sign-stealing issues amongst themselves, rather than the story becoming public. Gamesmanship between the sport’s most famous rivals, then, may be at play.

“I take any issue that affects the play of the game on the field extremely seriously,” Manfred said. "I do believe that this is a charged situation from a competitive perspective. When you have the kind of rivalry that the Yankees and the Red Sox have, I guess it’s not shocking you could have charges and counter charges like this. We will conduct a thorough investigation of the charges on both sides. I want to do that quickly. I think that’s important, that we get it resolved. The only thing that I can tell you about repercussions is that to the extent that there was a violation on any either side, and I’m not saying that there was… We are 100 percent comfortable that it is not an ongoing issue.”

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A punishment for one or both clubs would be made with deterrence in mind, Manfred said, but indicated vacating wins is not likely. That’s mostly because the impact of stealing signs can be very hard to determine.

There is no rule against stealing signs, but there is a rule against the use of electronic devices.

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, like manager John Farrell, did not deny or confirm whether the Sox stole signs. Dombrowski, who seemed somewhat amused, noted the ongoing prevalence of sign stealing within baseball.

“No, I don’t,” Dombrowski said when asked if sign stealing is wrong. “I guess it depends how you do it."

Dombrowski hinted he believed that the Yankees leaked the story. Manfred gave a scheduled press conference at Fenway Park — not because of the sign story, as originally reported by The New York Times, but because of his previously planned trip around the league.

Manfred said the Red Sox have been "100 percent, fully cooperative with us."

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Will Red Sox' patient approach pay off?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Will Red Sox' patient approach pay off?

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0:41 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins from the TD Garden to discuss the Celtics getting the win over the Nuggets, Kyrie Irving taking advantage of his matchup, Shane Larkin’s performance off the bench, and if Gordon Hayward will return this season.

5:18 - Michael Holley, Tom Curran, Michael Hurley, and DJ Bean discuss Tom Brady’s success in his career against the Pittsburgh Steelers and if that success will continue on Sunday. 

9:34 - Evan Drellich joins from the MLB Winter Meetings to talk about the Red Sox needing to stay disciplined with their roster flexibility, and the latest on J.D. Martinez. 

15:09 - Holley, Curran, Hurley, and Bean discuss Malcolm Butler’s now deleted retweet about Jay Cutler’s success against the Patriots when facing a blitz.

Give the Red Sox time, patience can pay off

Give the Red Sox time, patience can pay off

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — If the lineup looks the same on Opening Day, set off on a tantrum. For now, just keep your anger primed in the queue. Maybe even prepare for an eventuality of relief and excitement.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is moving with discipline. Even if some of his process this winter has been questionable, he’s still taking a measured approach rather than setting a match to an already shriveling farm system and payroll. 

Discipline requires waiting, and the lull invites frustration for those who want everything now.

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“Even though some things are starting to happen, there’s a lot to still be done over the winter time,” Dombrowski said Wednesday.

He’s right.

As a Sox fan, you can’t have it both ways. Either you want Dombrowski to act responsibly with the sustainability of the franchise in mind, or you want all the big names now, now, now — and are keen on an inevitably disastrous roster. 

The Sox have had a lot of big splashes in recent years. They have to move cautiously in waters this deep. As one executive put it recently: “Only horrible organizations keep spending and spending and spending.”

Here’s betting fans will be rewarded this winter with an upgraded lineup to feel good about, even if the Sox haven’t crossed the finish line yet. 

“Every time we have a meeting we talk about [timing]. Some players are going to start signing pretty soon,” Dombrowski said. “And some players that we have interest in, we’ll start signing pretty soon. And if you wait, you lose some players that you may have interest in.”

One thing is for sure — and it appears to be getting lost even with big names like J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer still out there — just because the Red Sox haven’t completed a deal, they are doing a ton of work behind the scenes.

"I think we're closer to getting answers on some things,” Dombrowski said Wednesday. “There have been a couple of things, calls we've made and heard from people that have eliminated us and some have kept us in there. But I can't say that I'm any closer to getting things done other than gathering continued information — because I don't know what happens with other clubs. I don't know where they stand with their conversations with other teams. There’s still a lot, so many conversations going on, and a lot of different possibilities, a lot of different trade things happening so I'm not really sure. 

“I think we've got a pulse of what's happening and I don't think anything's happened that's surprised us so far, but there haven't been that many things that have happened either. A lot of relievers have signed, that's been the biggest thing and that hasn't been our biggest thing that we're pursuing.”

(Whether they should be pursuing it with a little more aggressiveness is worth a thought, however.) 

- The Sox were keeping tabs on Marcell Ozuna, the Marlins outfielder who was traded to the Cardinals.

“We asked about him and they called me back beforehand, just to let me know,” Dombrowski said of the Marlins. “So we were in the mix enough to do that.”

Ozuna could have done some DH’ing and also played outfield. Dombrowski noted the Marlins got upper-level pitching in the trade. He didn’t specifically note that the Red Sox don’t have as much upper-level pitching to offer, but that is the case.

- The Sox have talked “generalities” with free agents when it comes to contract terms, Dombrowski said. 

- Dombrowski said bringing back free agent Eduardo Nunez is on his radar.

- Super agent Scott Boras on Wednesday defended J.D. Martinez’s defense, which isn’t generally well regarded. Boras also talked about the "prestige value" of Eric Hosmer, another client.

- Boras said the Red Sox have not told him it’s their intention to trade Jackie Bradley Jr.