Red Sox

Alex Cora's days as Red Sox manager could be over in wake of bombshell MLB report

Alex Cora's days as Red Sox manager could be over in wake of bombshell MLB report

 UPDATE (Jan. 14, 7:26 p.m.) — The Red Sox and Alex Cora have "mutually agreed to part ways."

Major League Baseball just nuked the Astros, and pardon my use of legalese, but it sure looks like Alex Cora is !%?@#ed.

The Red Sox manager's time in the barrel is coming, and it's not going to be pretty.

Based on (a) MLB's evisceration of Houston's leadership and (b) how Cora's name is all over the nine-page report that should do more to curb cheating than any Article 46 haymaker indiscriminately uncorked by Roger Goodell, the Red Sox could be in the market for a new manager.

"WHOAAA!" does not even begin to describe the reaction when MLB handed out its punishments on Monday.

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For being in charge when the Astros stole signs during their championship 2017 season and continuing into 2018, manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow were each suspended for a full season. An hour later, they were fired. The team was also docked its first- and second-round picks in the next two drafts and fined the maximum of $5 million allowed under the MLB constitution.

With all due respect to Deflategate and the passions that inflames around here, you might have to journey back more than 30 years to SMU's football program receiving the death penalty to find an institutional punishment this harsh.

The natural follow-up is what it means for Cora, and let's just say he might want to take up a hobby, because it's hard to imagine baseball completing its investigation into allegations that the Red Sox illegally stole signs during their 2018 championship season and deciding that community service will suffice.

Those of us who expected MLB to lay down the law as a deterrent against future malfeasance still had our breath taken away. The league says that Cora played a central role in the Astros' efforts — much to Hinch's displeasure, according to the investigation — and he will certainly be held institutionally responsible for whatever rules MLB determines the Red Sox broke.

"Cora arranged for a video room technician to install a monitor displaying the center field camera feed immediately outside of the Astros' dugout," the report reads.

He is described as the only non-player intricately involved in the scheme, which included the infamous banging of trash cans to signify offspeed pitches, which was revealed by the ace reporting of Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich at The Athletic.

But the real killer comes in the report's conclusion:

Cora was involved in developing both the banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs. Cora participated in both schemes, and through his active participation, implicitly condoned the players' conduct. I will withhold determining the appropriate level of discipline for Cora until after the DOI completes its investigation of the allegations that the Red Sox engaged in impermissible electronic sign stealing in 2018 while Cora was the manager.

That sounds like someone who's about to feel the full force of MLB discipline. Within an hour of the Luhnow and Hinch suspensions, Astros owner Jim Crane fired them. As unthinkable as this sounded a week ago, Cora should prepare himself for a similar fate, because his alleged actions have embarrassed the Red Sox, tainted their 2018 title, and ruined his own reputation.

What a stunning day.

J.D. Martinez states without equivocation that Red Sox will be exonerated by MLB investigation

J.D. Martinez states without equivocation that Red Sox will be exonerated by MLB investigation

SPRINGFIELD -- For five hours on Saturday morning at Winter Weekend, Red Sox players and coaches delivered basically the same message in regards to the 2018 cheating scandal: We're not at liberty to say anything until the league finishes its investigation.

And then J.D. Martinez stepped in front of the cameras.

The slugging DH, who earlier this offseason chose to remain in Boston rather than exercise an opt-out in his contract, minced no words when asked if the Red Sox did anything wrong during their championship 2018 season.

"You know, it sucks, to be honest with you," he said of the investigation. "It does suck. But you know what? I know I'm excited for the investigation to be over with just so that they can see that there was nothing going on here."

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So he believes the team is innocent of the charges that it used the replay room to steal opposing signs in real time?

"I believe that, yes," Martinez said.

And what gives Martinez this confidence, despite a report to the contrary in The Athletic claiming that the Red Sox stole signs?

"Because I was in there," he said. "I saw what was. . . . Straight up, everyone seems to forget that in 2017 and '16 this team was a really good team. This team won 93 games those two years and then we just got better."

Martinez spoke without hesitation, and also saluted departed manager Alex Cora, while offering some insight into why Cora decided to leave the team.

"Kind of heartbroken about it," he said. "I talked to him before and I understood his side of it. He didn't want to be a distraction going into the season. I know it was wearing on him and his family, so I obviously feel for him and I wish him the best. But I know he played a big, big role for our team and he was one of my favorites, if not my favorite manager that I've had. It's going to be tough."

Mike Lowell says he'd love to take job as Red Sox manager temporarily if it brought Alex Cora back

Mike Lowell says he'd love to take job as Red Sox manager temporarily if it brought Alex Cora back

Mike Lowell would check a lot of the boxes the Red Sox would be looking for in their managerial search. The popular former Red Sox third baseman is a Cuban-American who speaks Spanish and English and is media-savvy as an analyst for the MLB Network. 

Still, there's one condition he has that will probably take Lowell out of the running. 

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The 2007 World Series MVP and 2018 inductee into the team's Hall of Fame has no managerial experience, but told WEEI's Rob Bradford in a text message, "I would love to if I knew it was just for a year and Cora was guaranteed to come back."

Alex Cora, a Red Sox teammate of Lowell's for three seasons (2006-08), was let go by on Tuesday after he was named as the central figure in Major League Baseball's investigation of sign-stealing by the Houston Astros when Cora was their bench coach in 2017. Cora is also alleged to have brought a similar system to Boston when he became manager before the 2018 season. MLB is continuing to investigate the allegations against the Red Sox and it will likely result in a suspension of one season or longer for Cora.

Former Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were each suspended for a season by MLB and subsequently fired by Houston.

With Cora facing perhaps a longer punishment, or perhaps even a lifetime ban from baseball -- and from Red Sox ownership's telling silence when asked if Cora would ever manage in the majors again -- Lowell's plan of temporarily filling in until Cora's return isn't likely to fly.