MLB cheating

Is Ron Roenicke just keeping seat warm for Alex Cora's return to Red Sox?

Is Ron Roenicke just keeping seat warm for Alex Cora's return to Red Sox?

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Ron Roenicke talked. Chaim Bloom smiled. Brian O'Halloran nodded.

And the only man I could think about as the Red Sox introduced their new manager was their old one.

Alex Cora will not be in charge of a baseball team in 2020. We needn't wait for the commissioner's report on cheating in the 2018 championship season to know that much. Still, as long as he's out there, and as long as the Red Sox don't find someone more permanent-sounding than a respected 63-year-old baseball lifer hired to make the best of a bad situation, we'll all ponder the same question:

With Cora's shadow looming over his old office, might he one day reclaim it?

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

It's not beyond the realm of possibility. Roenicke himself called Cora the most gifted communicator he has ever seen on Tuesday, and even as he's expected to lose the "interim" modifier from his title once MLB announces the results of its investigation and presumably clears him, it's questionable to consider the former Brewers manager the long-term solution.

He feels like a placeholder for the predecessor who hired him, because Cora still checks all the boxes that made him such a hot commodity two years ago: great communicator in multiple languages, confident, daring, whip-smart, analytically inclined, a presence in all aspects of baseball operations. The one significant demerit against him -- convicted cheater -- can be overcome, like most things, with the passage of time. A contrition tour wouldn't hurt, either.

Welcome to the manager's office, Ron Roenicke. If the Red Sox struggle in 2020 through no fault of Roenicke's because of an undermanned rotation and lack of organizational depth, and if the Red Sox decide to go manager hunting again in the fall, but this time with an entire offseason to conduct their search, would anyone be surprised if they rehire Cora?

I wouldn't, which is unfair to Roenicke, but also reality, though there are obviously complicating factors. If Cora is suspended for more than a year, it's hard to imagine the Red Sox leaving the light on for him. If he's suspended for life, which felt possible in the days after his ouster but not so much anymore, then it's really time to move on. And considering that Bloom bears little allegiance to him, he'd need to win over the new boss.

But if Cora misses a year and the end of his suspension just happens to coincide with the start of a new managerial search, then it would be easy to see the stars realigning for his return.

I'd be all for it, because I continue to believe Red Sox overreacted by parting ways as abruptly as it did. John Henry and Co. described the split as mutual, and maybe in the heat of the moment, with the world crashing down on him, Cora really did believe he had lost the ability to lead. I suspect, however, that the perspective afforded by even a couple of weeks away has softened his stance. Rather than accept his mutual resignation, the Red Sox could've insisted that he hold off on such a momentous decision until the overheated emotions had cooled.

But they didn't, perhaps because they believed it would buy them some leniency in the investigation that is projected to wrap up any day now, and which seems intent on making Cora its fall guy.

That's too bad, because we know that Henry loves him, that the front office loves working with him, and that he was eager and open to increasing the role of analytics in his game-planning, which, love it or hate it, is the way of the world. Only a handful of former players command respect equally amongst the jocks and the nerds, to colloquialize, and Cora's one of them.

That's a rare combination, and when you find someone featuring those traits, you only let him go under duress, which is what happened here.

So while the Red Sox celebrate Roenicke's arrival and its attendant stability following a tumultuous offseason, let's not forget about the guy who used to man his office.

He may yet find his way home.

 

Rafael Devers' emphatic message to those who question the Red Sox' 2018 title: 'We didn't cheat'

Rafael Devers' emphatic message to those who question the Red Sox' 2018 title: 'We didn't cheat'

Rafael Devers was emphatic. 

"We didn't cheat," he told the Boston Globe through an interpreter. "We have a lot of talent. We don’t need to cheat, and we became champs without cheating."

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

The Red Sox third baseman was referring, of course, to Major League Baseball's continuing investigation into sign-stealing allegations that led to the departure of manager Alex Cora and have some calling into question the legitimacy of the Sox' record 108-win season and World Series title in 2018.

“They can continue investigating, but that’s why they haven’t found anything, because we didn’t cheat,” Devers told the Globe's Stan Grossfeld from the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where he's working out in preparation for spring training that begins in two weeks.

Devers said he recently visited Cora and came away "very sad," saying "he’s like my father." 

Devers, 23, had blossomed the past two seasons under Cora, particularly last year when he posted breakout numbers (.311, 32 homers, 115 RBI, .916 OPS and an American League-leading 54 doubles and major league-leading 359 total bases).

While Devers told the Globe he'd happy to see bench coach Ron Roenicke promoted to manager he's obviously less enthused about the rumored imminent departure of friend Mookie Betts in a trade.

"I've always said he's the best player in the league," Devers said. 


 

Dodgers president on Red Sox, Astros sign-stealing: 'I'd like to have answers'

Dodgers president on Red Sox, Astros sign-stealing: 'I'd like to have answers'

Los Angeles Dodgers team president Stan Kasten, in his first public comments on the sign-stealing scandal that has rocked baseball, lamented that he still has many unanswered questions after Major League Baseball's punishment of the Houston Astros. 

Kasten noted that the investigation isn't over, with MLB continuing to look into the Red Sox' alleged sign-stealing using video - a system that Alex Cora reportedly brought to Boston as manager after serving as Astros bench coach.

"This investigation isn't over," Kasten said, via Evan Drellich of The Athletic, who along with colleague Ken Rosenthal broke the stories detailing the Astros' and Red Sox' schemes.  "I’d like to have answers to many questions about what happened, by whom and when."

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Kasten saw his Dodgers lose World Series in 2017 to Houston and 2018 to Boston, only to have those two championships called into question after MLB's report on the Astros' tactics led to the firing of manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. Cora also parted ways with the Red Sox amid the controversy and Carlos Beltran, a player on the '17 Astros involved in the scheme, was fired just months after being named manager of the New York Mets.  

Houston was also fined $5 million and docked draft picks. The Red Sox could face similar penalties.

Here are Kasten's full comments, via Drellich:

Earlier this week, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred shot down suggestions that the World Series titles could be stripped from the Astros and Red Sox, a request made by, among others, the L.A. City Council. 

Speaking specifically about losing to the Astros in the 2017 Series, Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, at the team's Fan Fest on Saturday, questioned the legitimacy of Houston's title.  

"We know how hard it is to win a World Series," Turner said. "We know that it's something you really have to earn, and with the commissioner's report and the evidence and what they had, it's hard to feel like they earned it and they earned the right to be called champions."