sign-stealing

Ian Kinsler 'doesn’t see any form of punishment' coming for Red Sox 'flawless' sign-stealing system

Ian Kinsler 'doesn’t see any form of punishment' coming for Red Sox 'flawless' sign-stealing system

The Boston Red Sox are still anxiously awaiting the results of an MLB investigation into sign-stealing in 2018, part of a scandal that has marred the team and all of baseball the past two months.

The scandal has led to the departure of Red Sox manager Alex Cora, and the Houston Astros have been hit with some harsh penalties for a sign-stealing scandal of their own. They fired their manager, A.J. Hinch, after he was suspended for a year by MLB. Cora was a part of Hinch's staff in 2017 as bench coach when the scheme to use real-time video to steal opponents' signals began.

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MLB's delays in the Red Sox investigation have led some to speculate that the probe may not find much. And in a recent interview on 1310 The Ticket in Dallas, former Red Sox second baseman Ian Kinsler said that MLB wouldn't find "anything close to what's going on [in Houston]."

"I don’t know what [MLB] is going to find, but in my opinion, it’s not anything close to what’s going on [in Houston], Kinsler said, as transcribed by MassLive.com's Chris Cotillo. “The Red Sox were just a very tight-knit group. When I was injected into that team in the middle of the season, it was a lot like the Rangers clubs I was on, where it was just a very tight-knit group and their system was flawless. They just had a very good system of relaying from second base to home plate. That was it. Honestly. We’ll see what happens with the commissioner’s report.”

This is the most detailed that any Red Sox player has been about the allegations to date, and with good reason. Kinsler is retired, so he doesn't stand to lose anything by talking now.

While Kinsler's depiction of the Red Sox sign-stealing is far from damning, he did acknowledge that while watching his previous at-bat on tape, he would check out the signs to see if he could de-code them.

“If there’s a video and you’re going to check out your at-bat and while you’re checking out your at-bat, there’s a runner on second base also, and you look through your at-bat to see your personal flaws and what you’re trying to fix for the next time… I’m going to go back again and check out the signs and see if I can crack them,” Kinsler said. “If I can, I can. If I can’t, I can’t.”

That's somewhat of a gray area, as all MLB teams have access to video in-game. So, it will certainly be interesting to see what the MLB rules on this aspect of the allegations and what they may do to curb in-game video going forward.

Still, as Kinsler said, he doesn't think that the Red Sox are going to get anything more than "a small punishment," as the league won't find anything "substantial".

“I’m interested to see what happens with this whole report because I truly believe they’re not going to find anything that’s substantial,” he said. “They might throw a small punishment out there because they did a report. I don’t know. I don’t know where they stand on this whole thing. We saw where they stood on the Astros thing. I just really don’t see any form of punishment coming to the Red Sox. It was a very good team.”

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?

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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."

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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.