Red Sox roster and schedule
Getty Images

Red Sox sign-stealing penalties announced

25 Comments

Major League Baseball his finally issued its penalty to the Boston Red Sox for stealing signs in the 2018 season. Compared to the Houston Astros it’s pretty darn light. Primarily because the primary culprit was the team’s video replay system operator, not any players, coaches or front office personnel.

The sanctions:

  • Video replay operator J.T. Watkins will be banned through the 2020 playoffs and taking the same position in 2021;
  • Former Manager Alex Cora is banned through the 2020 playoffs, but only for his conduct with Houston Astros in 2017, as bench coach, which was detailed in the Astros’ disciplinary report, not for anything he did with the Red Sox; and
  • The team will lose a second round pick in the 2020 draft.

Pursuant to the investigative report just issued by Commissioner Rob Manfred, Watkins, “on at least some occasions during the 2018 regular season,” illegally utilized game feeds in the replay room to help players during games. Manfred found this to be less egregious than the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scheme. Manfred made no finding that Boston’s sign-stealing conduct continued during the 2018 postseason or 2019 regular season.

Watkins, meanwhile, is reported to have “vehemently denied engaging in wrongdoing.”

Manfred, in requiring the Red Sox to forfeit a draft pick, said, “the club must be held accountable, particularly since the club may have benefited from Watkins’ conduct.” Manfred said he did not consider imposing discipline on players, just as he did not discipline any Astros players.

Red Sox President Sam Kennedy issued the following statement in the wake of the report:

“As an organization, we strive for 100% compliance with the rules. MLB’s investigation concluded that in isolated instances during the 2018 regular season, sign sequences were decoded through the use of live game video rather than through permissible means.

“MLB acknowledged the front office’s extensive efforts to communicate and enforce the rules and concluded that Alex Cora, the coaching staff, and most of the players did not engage in, nor were they aware of, any violations. Regardless, these rule violations are unacceptable. We apologize to our fans and Major League Baseball, and accept the Commissioner’s ruling.”

You can read the entire 15-page report just released by Major League Baseball here.

Cole Hamels done for year after just 1 start for Braves

Cole Hamels triceps injury
Getty Images
Leave a comment

ATLANTA — After making just one start for the Atlanta Braves, Cole Hamels is done for the season.

Hamels reported shortly before the start of a four-game series against the Miami Marlins that he didn’t feel like he could get anything on the ball. The left-hander was scheduled to make his second start Tuesday after struggling throughout the year to overcome shoulder and triceps issues.

The Braves placed Hamels on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Sept. 18,, but that was a mere formality. General manager Alex Anthopoulos already contacted Major League Baseball about replacing Hamels in the team’s postseason player pool.

“Cole knows himself and his body,” Anthopoulos said. “You trust the player at that point when he says he can’t go.”

The Braves began Monday with a three-game lead in the NL East .and primed for their third straight division title.

Even with that success, Atlanta has struggled throughout the shortened 60-game series to put together a consistent rotation beyond Cy Young contender Max Fried and rookie Ian Anderson.

Expected ace Mike Soroka went down with a season-ending injury, former All-Star Mike Foltynewicz was demoted after just one start, and Sean Newcomb also was sent to the alternate training site after getting hammered in his four starts.

The Braves have used 12 starters this season.

Anthopoulos had hoped to land another top starter at the trade deadline but the only deal he was able to make was acquiring journeyman Tommy Milone from the Orioles. He’s on the injured list after getting hammered in three starts for the Braves, giving up 22 hits and 16 runs in just 9 2/3 innings.

“There’s no doubt that our starting pitching has not performed to the level we wanted it to or expected it to,” Anthopoulos said. “I know that each year you never have all parts of your club firing. That’s why depth is so important.”

Hamels, who signed an $18 million, one-year contract last December, reported for spring training with a sore shoulder stemming from an offseason workout.

When camps were shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, Hamels was able to take a more cautious approach to his rehabilitation. But a triceps issue sidelined again before the delayed start of the season in July.

The Braves hoped Hamels would return in time to provide a boost for the playoffs. He also was scheduled to start the final game of the regular season Sunday, putting him in position to join the postseason rotation behind Fried and Anderson.

Now, Hamels is done for the year, his Braves’ career possibly ending after he made that one appearance last week in Baltimore. He went 3 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on three hits, with two strikeouts and one walk in a loss to the Orioles.

Hamels reported no problems immediately after his start, but he didn’t feel right after a bullpen session a couple of days ago.

“You’re not going to try to talk the player into it,” Anthopoulos said. “When he says he isn’t right, that’s all we need to hear.”

Atlanta recalled right-hander Bryse Wilson to replace Hamels on the 28-man roster. The Braves did not immediately name a starter for Tuesday’s game.

With Hamels out, the Braves will apparently go with Fried (7-0, 1.96), Anderson (3-1, 2.36) and Kyle Wright (2-4, 5.74) as their top three postseason starters.

Hamels is a four-time All-Star with a career record of 163-122. He starred on Philadelphia’s World Series-winning team in 2008 and also pitched for Texas and the Chicago Cubs.

Last season, Hamels went 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA in 27 starts for the Cubs.