Major League Baseball has completed its investigation of the Houston Astros cheating scandal and Monday handed down punishments. Per Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic, here are the punishments:
• A one-year suspension for general manager Jeff Luhnow.
• A one-year suspension for manager A.J. Hinch.
• The forfeitures of first- and second-round draft picks in both 2020 and ’21.
• A fine of $5 million, the maximum allowed under MLB’s constitution.
• The placement of former Astros assistant GM Brandon Taubman on baseball’s ineligible list.
Those are all well and good. I would have liked to see a larger fine, but per the article, that’s the maximum amount. $5 million barely buys you a middle-inning reliever or backup infielder these days. Perhaps MLB’s constitution ought to be amended.
It’s good that both the manager and general manager are being suspended for a year, and the loss of the draft picks in the first two rounds both this year and next will hurt Astros player development. Those things should help dissuade other teams from doing something like this in the future.
Also, there’s this:
No players were disciplined by Major League Baseball in the Astros' investigation. While Mets manager Carlos Beltran was part of it, he was a player at the time and thus was not suspended.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 13, 2020
Discipline for Red Sox manager Alex Cora is coming. It is going to be harsh, per sources.
Will “harsh” punishment for Alex Cora be more than the one-year suspension handed down to A.J. Hinch? It’s been alleged that not only was Cora part of the Astros’ cheating in 2017, he also was part of a possible Red Sox cheating scandal in 2018, something that’s currently being investigated.
Here’s more on the scheme, via Jeff Passan:
The scheme, laid out by MLB's investigators, that names Alex Cora: pic.twitter.com/ymBK81FW7x— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 13, 2020
"Witnesses consistently describe this new scheme as player-driven ... with the exception of Cora." pic.twitter.com/BbUZHulZlh— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 13, 2020
In his release, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred absolutely skewered the Houston Astros' culture. pic.twitter.com/qQ2XxPZjKG— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 13, 2020
Even though Astros manager AJ Hinch disagreed with the use of video -- going so far as to damage a monitor used in the scheme multiple times to show his disapproval -- he was still suspended for a year. pic.twitter.com/kg0feY9oQC— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 13, 2020
It is technically not a year-long suspension for Jeff Luhnow and AJ Hinch. Their suspensions begin today and conclude the day after the 2020 World Series ends.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 13, 2020
It is still a massive suspension -- and considering Alex Cora's apparently culpability, his is bound to be far longer.
For those who wanted the Astros championship “vacated,” that wasn’t likely even in the realm of possibility. That’s a college sports thing, in my opinion. Baseball has never changed the results that happened on the field — the home-run totals produced by alleged steroid cheaters stand. They happened, the games happened on the field, that won’t be changed.
But these punishments, hopefully, will seriously dissuade any team from doing such things in the future. Here’s how the Houston punishments match up with previous suspensions of managers and executives, from the article in The Athletic:
The suspension of Hinch is the longest for a manager since Pete Rose voluntarily accepted a lifetime ban on Aug. 24, 1989, and matches the second-longest in the game’s history. The suspension of Luhnow matches the sixth-longest for an executive. Former Braves general manager John Coppolella and former Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa received lifetime bans in 2017. Former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner received a lifetime ban in July 1990, but was reinstated in March 1993.
As noted, we await news on a suspension of Red Sox manager Alex Cora. It is my fervent hope that this will be the last time we ever hear of things like this in baseball.