Red Sox

Red Sox want it both ways on Cora dismissal, and other thoughts from a surreal day at Fenway

Red Sox want it both ways on Cora dismissal, and other thoughts from a surreal day at Fenway

For more than an hour on Wednesday afternoon, the Red Sox asked us to embrace two essentially incompatible ideas.

On the one hand, they repeatedly requested that we withhold judgment over any cheating they may have committed in 2018 until Major League Baseball completes its investigation. On the other hand, we were only sitting there because they had already rendered a seemingly ironclad verdict on the matter by dismissing manager Alex Cora.

Ownership claims that Cora had to go solely because of his actions in Houston, which were detailed in a bombshell nine-page report on Monday that left little doubt about his central role in the scheme to steal signs.

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Still, considering that he is being accused of conducting the exact same behavior in Boston, minus the trash can, it's hard to see how the team can play the innocent-until-proven-guilty card when it is suddenly conducting a managerial search less than a month before the start of spring training.

"We have not rendered judgment on 2018," said team president Sam Kennedy. "We've rendered judgment with respect to 2017."

That sounds like having it both ways, to me, but in any event, here are my other takeaways from one of the stranger days I've seen at Fenway Park in the past 25 years.

* MLB has boxed itself in on this issue. What started as an attempt to lay down the law in order to deter future sign-stealing is in danger of starting a chain-reaction conflagration that torches multiple franchises.

The Red Sox and Astros are in the market for new managers. As I type, the Mets are wavering over the future of the newly hired Carlos Beltran. The last thing commissioner Rob Manfred wants is eight more press conferences like Wednesday's, with teams detailing why they fired their decision-maker(s) under the cloud of scandal.

The idea is to make an example of the Red Sox and Astros so no one ever crosses this line again. But if more media-driven revelations keep appearing, Manfred and Co. will have no choice but to act, except this time they'll be rendering judgments in the middle of the season, when a forced managerial change could be particularly destructive to a contending team.

Baseball's attempts to clean up this mess could create an even bigger problem.

* So where do the Red Sox go from there? The front office's search will naturally start internally, since the shortest path to continuity is hiring from within. The problem is, the team really can't name a successor from Cora's staff until the league produces its report on 2018, and that could be two months from now. 

The nightmare scenario would be receiving assurances from a current coach that his hands were clean, elevating him to manager, and then seeing his name all over a damning report. The Red Sox can't take that chance, unless they want to conduct another managerial search after Opening Day.

If they want to start with an experienced, unemployed manager, they've twice interviewed former Tigers and Angels skipper Brad Ausmus, who has reached the playoffs once in five seasons. Just-retired Giants manager Bruce Bochy would be another possibility, except he reiterated in a recent interview that he plans on taking 2020 off before considering a return to the dugout.

One man who deserves a look from someone, somewhere, is 70-year-old Dusty Baker, who has won at least 90 games in five of his past six seasons helming the Nationals and Reds.

* What impact might this have on the rest of the offseason? The Red Sox have been surprisingly quiet despite assumptions that they'd have dumped payroll by now. They could take the Cora news in two directions, either viewing it as an opportunity to just blow everything up and start over, or as a mandate (there's that word again!) to build the best possible team in 2020 to avoid further alienating the fan base.

Considering their obsession with PR, it's hard to imagine they choose option A at this point, but it's too late for them to make any big moves that significantly improve the roster, which means their most likely course of action is to hope that everyone who underperformed last year (i.e., everyone in the rotation not named Eduardo Rodriguez) finds a return to form.

Good luck with that.

* One final tidbit: Kennedy would not reveal, as part of the "mutual decision" to part, whether the team will pay Cora either his salary or a settlement. It wouldn't be a shock if the Red Sox take care of Cora in some way, since ownership clearly remains fond of him, and he's probably going to be out of a job for the next two years. A settlement would also help ensure that he goes quietly without fighting his dismissal.

 

Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton 'will be down for a bit' with calf injury

Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton 'will be down for a bit' with calf injury

Wednesday was another tough day on the injury front for the New York Yankees.

Manager Aaron Boone revealed slugger Giancarlo Stanton "will be down for a bit" due to a Grade 1 right calf strain. The news comes one day after it was announced right-hander Luis Severino will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2020 campaign.

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Injuries have been par for the course with Stanton ever since he first donned Yankee pinstripes in 2018. The former National League MVP has played in only 176 of 324 regular-season games with New York due to bicep, shoulder, and knee ailments.

The Yankees still boast a well-rounded roster that can survive Stanton's absence for a while, but his presence in the middle of the lineup is key to their success. If the 30-year-old indeed misses time, it could be Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar, or Mike Tauchman taking his spot in the lineup.

New York's 2020 season begins March 26 vs. the Baltimore Orioles.

MLB Rumors: Red Sox unlikely to 'buy' prospects from Padres in a Wil Myers deal

MLB Rumors: Red Sox unlikely to 'buy' prospects from Padres in a Wil Myers deal

The Boston Red Sox are looking to replenish their farm system, and the San Diego Padres have the talented prospects to make a deal worth their while.

With the Padres looking to ship Wil Myers and part of the $61 million remaining on his contract, the Red Sox would appear to be the perfect fit, especially after clearing some space on their payroll by sending David Price and Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Boston had flirted with San Diego about a similar deal involving Betts, but the Sox instead went with L.A.'s offer.

Since then, the two sides reportedly have discussed a trade that would send Myers and half of his salary to Boston in exchange for a package of prospects that may include pitcher Cal Quantrill.

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Although such a deal makes sense on paper, it's "unlikely" to happen, according to Alex Speier of The Boston Globe.

Speier writes:

However, while the concept is interesting for a Red Sox organization intent on replenishing its upper levels and young big league talent, two major leagues sources characterized any such trade as unlikely. One of those sources characterized the idea mostly as “tire kicking” by the Red Sox rather than a deal with real legs.

The Padres, after all, are trying to improve their chances of contention rather than simply shed payroll. Their goal in pursuing Betts wasn’t to shed Myers’s salary but to add an elite talent. As such, they have little motivation to give up prospects and/or potential big league contributors for the sake of moving Myers unless they could reallocate his salary to acquire another player (likely via trade) such as Francisco Lindor.

As much as the Padres would love to rid themselves of most of Myers' bloated contract, trading him and a package of top prospects for cash doesn't make a whole lot of sense. As Speier notes, that changes if a player of Betts or Lindor's caliber is thrown in the mix. But since that isn't the case, there doesn't seem to be much of a benefit for an up-and-coming San Diego club.

There's still a chance the deal's framework could change -- potentially with a third team involved -- but as of now, a straight-up deal to "buy" Padres prospects probably isn't on the table.