MLB Continuing Investigation Into Red Sox After Team Parts With Cora
The Red Sox and manager Alex Cora parted ways yesterday after the club decided it was "untenable for the popular manager to continue given his central role in baseball's cheating scandal," according to a front-page piece by Peter Abraham of the BOSTON GLOBE. The Red Sox "met throughout the day" to "discuss the ramifications" of the nine-page report issued by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday. The report "pinpointed Cora as arranging for players to steal signs via video monitors" while he was Astros bench coach in '17. In November, as MLB launched its investigation of the Astros, Red Sox officials "did not believe Cora would be in any danger." But when the results of the investigation were revealed Monday, Cora was "found to have broken rules" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/15). In Boston, Jason Mastrodonato writes Cora's "confidence to ignore Manfred's bold warnings" that using technology to steal signs would result in harsh punishment "may have ended his career" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/15). In DC, Sheinin & Bieler write in some ways, Cora's downfall was "even swifter and more stunning" than those of now-fired Astros manager A.J. Hinch and President of Baseball Operations & GM Jeff Luhnow. In a little more than two years, Cora has "gone from a rising star manager who led the Red Sox" to a World Series title to a "disgraced and unemployed symbol of one of the biggest cheating scandals in the game's history" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/15).
WRITING ON THE WALL: In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy writes for the Red Sox, parting ways with Cora was the "only reasonable conclusion." Despite Red Sox Owner John Henry's "love for Cora," the manager "had to be dismissed." It was "obvious that MLB was going to suspend Cora for a year, probably longer," and the Red Sox had to "get on with their lives." This situation was "simply not survivable" for Cora (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/15). In Massachusetts, Bill Burt in a front-page piece writes the Red Sox "couldn't wait for Major League Baseball's disciplinary orders." His ties to the Astros scandal "trumped everything he ever did for the Sox" and made it "impossible for Cora to return from any kind of MLB-imposed suspension" (Haverhill EAGLE-TRIBUNE, 1/15). ESPN's Tim Kurkjian said, "He was going to get suspended for at least a year, and maybe longer. The Red Sox looked at this and said, 'This is an untenable situation.' ... They just felt like they had to move on" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/15). In Boston, Tom Keegan writes Red Sox brass "liked Cora a lot and he liked them," but he "had to go and had to go before" MLB announced his suspension. Keegan: "Everybody knew it." It is "nice to see the Red Sox acted swiftly and didn't assemble focus groups to decide what to do" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/15).
NOT OVER YET: In Boston, Sean McAdam cited a source as saying MLB will "continue its investigation of the Red Sox," and Cora is "not immune from further disciplinary action" in the wake of his dismissal (BOSTONSPORTSJOURNAL.com, 1/14). In Massachusetts, Chris Cotillo writes Cora's ouster "doesn't mean the Red Sox have washed their hands clean of all potential punishment" from the league. There are still potential punishments, including "suspensions for other team employees, the loss of draft picks and hefty fines" (Springfield REPUBLICAN, 1/15). In Providence, Bill Koch writes it is "reasonable to surmise" the Red Sox' penalties following the conclusion of the current investigation "could be more severe as a result of being two-time offenders" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 1/15). In Boston, John Tomase writes considering the warning MLB had given each club in the wake of the Red Sox being caught using an Apple Watch in '17, Cora's "flouting of the rules qualified as brazen, if not breathtaking." The Red Sox and Astros "clearly calculated that violations involving this minor espionage would continue receiving slaps on the wrist." They "never saw the sledgehammer swinging until it went splat" (NBCSPORTSBOSTON.com, 1/15).
WAITING GAME: Manfred in his report said that he would wait until the investigation is over to "determine Cora's punishment." But in N.Y., Tyler Kepner notes considering that Luhnow and Hinch were both suspended for a year -- even though they were found not to be involved in the planning or execution of the Astros "ploy -- it stands to reason that discipline for Cora could be even more severe, especially if" the Red Sox accusations are confirmed (N.Y. TIMES, 1/15). CBSSPORTS.com's Dayn Perry writes Cora is in for a "much stiffer penalty than Hinch." Perry: "Speculation, some of it formed, even has it that a lifetime ban is in play. At the very least, Cora will be suspended for multiple seasons and carry with him a sullied reputation" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/15). THE RINGER's Michael Baumann noted with Cora "out of the short-term picture, the scope of his punishment is no longer a pressing issue" for the Red Sox (THERINGER.com, 1/14).
CHANGES COMING: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jared Diamond writes Cora's departure "marks the beginning of what could turn into an entirely new era for the Red Sox, a premier franchise seemingly entering a state of transition." In September, they fired President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski and replaced him in October with Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom, "essentially his polar opposite," as the club now wants Bloom to "keep them atop the standings without spending quite as much money" as Dombrowski did during his tenure (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/15). SI.com's Tom Verducci noted people "knew the Red Sox were staring at a major transition," but that transition "just got bigger" (SI.com, 1/14). The REPUBLICAN's Cotillo notes "turmoil is nothing new" to an organization that has had four different top execs since '11 and is about to hire its fifth manager in the same timeframe. But this "level of turnover, in so little time, will be hard for even the most seasoned veterans of change to deal with." Red Sox ownership will have to "step up and make this transition period as smooth as possible" for a club with "a lot to prove" in '20 (Springfield REPUBLICAN, 1/15).