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The Boston Red Sox [2021 Season Preview]

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I will start with the obvious, and it brings me great pleasure to say this – the Boston Red Sox have been really, really bad of late.  The year after their championship 2018 campaign, they finished a distant third in the AL East, 19 games behind the Yankees, and in 2020, they finished dead last, behind even the hapless Baltimore Orioles.  For Sox fans, the hardest pill to swallow must be that the Red Sox seem to be deliberately bad, trading away their marquee superstar for luxury tax purposes and expecting their fans to be okay with it.  

With that being said, the Yankees, although clearly a superior team (in function and in essence), should not be resting on their laurels in games against Boston this year.  While Boston is not projected to be terribly good, and it would certainly be a surprise if they were in the upper echelon of American League teams, they are likely to not be quite as bad as they were last season.  Regression to the mean from some top players would make the Red Sox at least a challenging rival this year.

Boston Red Sox Series Preview: 8/14 to 8/17

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It’s not often we get to qualify the Red Sox as the last place Red Sox. Sound sweet, doesn’t it? That’s where Boston stands in the division entering this weekend’s wraparound four game series vs. the Yankees.

Their story so far

The Red Sox are fresh off an embarrassing four game sweep at the hands of the Rays at Fenway park. Tampa Bay outscored Boston 42-22 during the series. Mind you that was against the Rays’ not so special offense. Folks, it’s ugly in Beantown.

Since the Yankees swept Boston, the Red Sox have lost six of nine games (so really, they’ve lost nine of twelve). Hate to see it! Although, it didn’t really get bad until the aforementioned series against the Rays. Following the series at Yankee Stadium at the beginning of the month, the Sox split a quick two game set at the Trop. They then came back to Fenway and took two of three from the Blue Jays before things unraveled against Tampa Bay.

This swoon leaves Boston at 6-13 on the season and 6.5 games behind the Yankees. The Sox have the worst record in the American League and are second to the lowly Pirates in all of baseball.

I don’t think anyone expected Boston to be good this season, but did anyone anticipate them being this bad? I assumed that Boston’s offense would carry them a little further and allow them to win some slugfests, but that hasn’t been the case. As a team, the Red Sox are hitting .254/.316/.422 (98 wRC+), which places them 20th in wRC+ in MLB. Even if Boston was hitting better, it’s kind of hard to overcome a pitching staff that’s allowed 112 runs thus far, third-worst of all thirty clubs.

Injury Report

There’s one new injury to report since the last series against the Red Sox. OF Andrew Benintendi has a strained rib cage and is on the injured list. He’ll miss this series. Additionally, we already know that LHP Eduardo Rodríguez was on the COVID-19 injured list, but it was announced during that last Yankees series that he would not return this season. Here’s everyone else, thanks to a little copying and pasting from the last preview:

  • The oft-injured 2B Dustin Pedroia had a knee procedure last August. It’s hard to imagine when or if he’ll ever return.
  • LHP Chris Sale had Tommy John surgery and will not return this year. He should be an option again mid-2021.
  • Boston has two other players on the COVID-19 injured list: LHP Darwinzon Hernandez and LHP Josh Taylor. Their returns are unknown.
  • RHP Collin McHugh opted out of the 2020 season.

Spotlight: Mookie Betts

I don’t know what John Henry was thinking either, Mookie.

At first, I was going to profile Mitch Moreland. He’s been really good offensively and figures to be a trade deadline chip for the Red Sox. But what’s the fun in giving kudos to anyone on the Sox? I’m pro-fun, and I think lambasting the Red Sox for trading Mookie Betts is always a good time. So, let’s look to the west coast to see what the former Sox outfielder is up to.

Oh. Did he hit three dingers yesterday? Yes, yes he did. I guess if there’s any solace for Red Sox fans, it’s that they’re probably going to be asleep during most of Mookie’s career. So they won’t have to see it. Let’s just remind them what they’re missing: Betts is batting .319/.380/.694 (189 wRC+) for the Dodgers so far.

Of course, Red Sox fans could have seen the entirety of Betts’ career if team ownership was willing to pay the 27 year-old superstar. Los Angeles just inked Betts to a 12 year, $365 million contract that’ll keep him with the Dodgers through the end of his career.

It’s *still* dumbfounding that the Red Sox traded Betts away for scraps. Mookie hit .301/.374/.519 (135 wRC+) for Boston since 2014. He also swatted 146 homers, swiped 127 bases, played stellar defense, and racked up nearly 40 WAR. Not to mention his 2018 MVP season when he led Boston to a championship. But hey, can’t keep those kind of productive players around. Just can’t.

Projected Lineup

Here’s the Roster Resource projected lineup along with each starters’ small sample size performance to date:

  1. Alex Verdugo, LF (.259/.328/.431, 105 wRC+)
  2. Rafel Devers, 3B (.169/.229/.323, 45 wRC+)
  3. J.D. Martinez, DH (.232/.329/.435, 103 wRC+)
  4. Xander Bogaerts, SS (.293/.379/.517, 142 wRC+)
  5. Mitch Moreland, 1B (.306/.359/.833, 209 wRC+)
  6. Christian Vázquez, C (.241/.267/.483, 95 wRC+)
  7. Kevin Pillar, RF (.321/.345/.464, 118 wRC+)
  8. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF (.211/.274/.246, 43 wRC+)
  9. José Peraza, 2B (.262/.297/.344, 72 wRC+)

On the bench, Boston has backup catcher Kevin Plawecki along with infielders Jonathan Araúz, Michael Chavis, and Tzu-Wei Lin. Chavis will probably play against the lefties the Yankees start this weekend. He’s at .300/.317/.575 (133 wRC+) this season.

Pitching Matchups

Tonight, 7:05 p.m. EDT: Colten Brewer (opener, vs. Yankees) vs. RHP Gerrit Cole (vs. Yankees)

Boston’s going with a bullpen game this evening. This’ll be Brewer’s first career start. You might remember him in the Yankees’ organization a few years ago — he was a minor league Rule 5 pick in 2016, but left as a minor league free agent. He’s probably good for an inning or two tonight.


No announcement yet as to who will start for Boston tonight. Seems like a good opportunity for the Yankees to feast on Boston pitching. Meanwhile, the Yankees have the ace of the staff on the mound. We still haven’t seen Cole put everything together in one start just yet. This will be his fifth outing of the season.

Saturday, 7:07 p.m. EDT: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. Yankees) vs. LHP James Paxton (vs. Red Sox)

The Yankees missed Eovaldi, Boston’s de facto ace, in the previous series vs. the Red Sox. He’s been pretty decent thus far in 2020: in four starts and 22 innings, the hard-throwing righty has a 4.09 ERA and 3.35 FIP. The ex-Yankee fanned ten Blue Jays across six innings in his last start.


Eovaldi pretty much only throws fastballs and cutters to righties with the occasional curveball mixed in. Against lefties, he’ll also throw in a splitter more frequently.

Paxton’s coming off his best start of the season against the Rays. Hopefully Saturday is another step in the right direction in terms of velocity buildup. This is The Big Maple’s first start against Boston this season.

Sunday, 7:08 p.m. EDT: TBD/Bullpen Game vs. LHP JA Happ (vs. Red Sox)

Sunday’s also up in the air for the Red Sox. It could turn out to be a slugfest with Happ on the mound for the Yankees. Sigh. As I wrote yesterday, keeping Happ in the rotation is a bad idea (obviously).

Monday, 7:05 p.m. EDT: LHP Martín Pérez (vs. Yankees) vs. LHP Jordan Montgomery (vs. Red Sox)

Pérez has actually been kinda good for Boston thus far. In 21 1/3 innings, he’s posted a 3.38 ERA and 3.88 FIP. He doesn’t miss many bats, but he’s been a soft contact extraordinaire thus far.


Montgomery pitched really well against Boston in his season debut: 5 2/3 innings and one run allowed. He’s also coming off a quality start vs. Atlanta last time out.

Bullpen Status

RHP: Brandon Workman (Closer), Matthew Barnes, Austin Brice, Phillips Valdez, Heath Hembree, Ryan Brasier, Colten Brewer, Marcus Walden, Dylan Covey, Ryan Weber

LHP: Josh Osich

The only bullpen to throw more innings than the Red Sox this season has been the Rays’. That’s by design for Tampa Bay, though. Boston has no choice because its starting pitching is so thin. It’s not like its group of relievers are very good, either. The Red Sox are in the bottom-third of MLB in bullpen ERA.

Boston’s top relievers are pretty fresh because the team hasn’t had many leads to protect. Workman hasn’t pitched since last Friday and Barnes hasn’t gone since Sunday. Although, calling Barnes a top reliever is a bit of a misnomer. A few pitchers are likely to be unavailable tonight. Valdez (35 pitches), Hembree (15), Walden (23), and Osich (33) pitched in yesterday’s loss. Weber threw 58 pitches on Wednesday.

A four game sweep is a lot to ask, but if the Rays just did it against them, the Yankees should too. The one game I’d be concerned about is Happ’s start, but there’s also a good chance the Yankees outslug the Red Sox that night. In any event, it’s time to bury Boston and put them out of their misery.

Boston Red Sox Series Preview: 7/31 to 8/2

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It’s only been two years since the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series. But instead of building upon its impressive core, the club’s ownership instead dismantled things. Trading Mookie Betts this past offseason was the big blow, but the organization’s divestment from the team following 2018 started well before that.

Boston didn’t do anything to sustain or improve its team for its title defense last year. Perhaps the organization didn’t feel the need to do much following such a dominant 2018. Instead, things went south and the Sox finished at 84-78, third place in the division. Ownership canned Dave Dombrowski, who helped architect that 2018 club, in what felt like a rage quit move by John Henry.

The Sox then brought in Rays exec Chaim Bloom, which told us all we needed to know about where Boston was headed. Whereas Dombrowski’s goal was to win at all costs, Bloom’s installation was for the purposes of winning efficiently. Said another way: Bloom came in to oversee the dismantling of the roster, namely Betts, in order for the Sox to save some dough. It may work out in the long run, but it sure looks like Boston is in for a few lean years right now.

Their story so far

If you read the Orioles series preview, you’ll know that Boston dropped two of three to the Orioles to start the season. The series immediately exposed Boston’s incredibly thin pitching staff. Nate Eovaldi may have pitched well in Boston’s opening win, but just about everyone after was another story. The O’s scored seven runs off Boston pitching in each of the last two games of the series.

Things didn’t start off much better in Boston’s next series against the Mets. Once again, the team’s pitching was dreadful. The staff allowed 15 runs combined in the first two games, both losses. We knew the Red Sox probably weren’t going to be very good this year, but starting 1-4 and having things spiral out of control right away was a bit surprising given the team’s opponents.

Of course, sometimes the Mets can’t get out of their own way too. I’m all for some Mets schadenfreude, but it would have been nice to see them continue to clobber Red Sox’ pitching. Instead, as the series headed to Citi Field for the next two, Boston turned it around. Or should I say, the Mets bullpen did its usual: blow a lead for Jacob deGrom. Down 3-2 after six innings, the Red Sox knocked around Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson to ultimately win, 6-5. Boston then managed the series split with a 4-2 victory last night.

So, the Red Sox enter this weekend’s series at 3-4, two games behind the 4-1 first place Yankees. Boston shouldn’t be a threat to the Bombers this year (both PECOTA and Fangraphs have them finishing .500), but it’d be nice to knock them back on their tails this weekend after a salvaged series vs. the Mets.

Injury Report

  • The oft-injured 2B Dustin Pedroia had a knee procedure last August. It’s hard to imagine when or if he’ll ever return.
  • LHP Chris Sale had Tommy John surgery and will not return this year. He should be an option again mid-2021.
  • LHP Eduardo Rodríguez is on the COVID-19 injured list. He’s dealing with myocarditis (inflammation around the heart), which was brought on by the coronavirus. Scary stuff, but it seems like he’ll be okay in the long run. It’s just not clear when he’ll return.
  • Boston has two other players on the COVID-19 injured list: LHP Darwinzon Hernandez and LHP Josh Taylor. Their returns are unknown.
  • RHP Collin McHugh opted out of the 2020 season.

Spotlight: Alex Verdugo

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We’re pretty familiar with most of the Red Sox hitters to this point, but Alex Verdugo is a new face in Boston’s lineup. As you surely know, he was one of the players acquired in return for superstar Mookie Betts. Verdugo, 24, is Betts’s replacement. He’s got pretty big shoes to fill and frankly, he almost certainly can’t.

Verdugo’s already had big league success and was a well regarded prospect, but that’s not everything to him. As a minor leaguer in 2015, Verdugo was reportedly involved — or “at best” — present during sexual assault. The Dodgers covered up the incident as it didn’t become public until 2019. Sheryl Ring wrote about this a few months ago, and I suggest going there if you want more details. Since joining the Red Sox, Verdugo has denied the allegations and claims that he would have done something to stop it if he was present. He also said that he has regrets about what transpired with “certain events” that night. Hm. Believe what you want to believe, but this is not the guy I’d want to replace an icon like Betts with.

This is a really crappy thing for Red Sox fans to grapple with. Not only did the organization trade away the team’s best player and fan favorite, but in return, the team acquired someone of questionable character. We Yankees fans know the feeling with regard to Aroldis Chapman. It sucks. As long as we continue to stomach teams adding players like this, we can only hope for the survivors’ well-being and that people like Verdugo or Chapman show actual remorse and exhibit resolve to become better people.

For the stick to baseball crowd (who assuredly have either skipped to the comments section or closed out this page entirely): Los Angeles drafted Verdugo in the second round of the 2014 draft, and three years later, he debuted in the big leagues as a 21 year-old. In his three seasons out west, the lefty-swinging Verdugo hit .282/.335/.449 (107 OPS+) and accumulated 3.3 rWAR in 488 plate appearances. Most of those numbers stem from last year, when Verdugo played in 106 games and batted .294/.342/.475 (114 OPS+). Before exceeding rookie eligibility last year, Verdugo had been a top-100 prospect for a few years. He reached as high as 19th on Baseball Prospectus’s list in 2019, and 35th per Baseball America and MLB Pipeline as well.

Verdugo’s off to an OK start for Boston. He’s hit .333/.400/.333 (112 wRC+) in 20 plate appearances thus far. He’s most played right field to date, but he can play the other two outfield positions as needed.

Considering his playing experience with LA and his former prospect sheen, Verdugo should develop into a solid piece for the Red Sox. Barring a trade or something along similar lines, he’ll be in Boston through the 2024 season. Just don’t expect him to ever blossom into anything like Mookie.

Projected Lineup

Here’s the Roster Resource projected lineup along with each starters’ small sample size performance to date:

  1. Andrew Benintendi, LF (.095/.321/.143, 55 wRC+)
  2. J.D. Martinez, DH (.241/.333/.345, 85 wRC+)
  3. Rafael Devers, 3B (.192/.222/.346, 18 wRC+)
  4. Xander Bogaerts, SS (.182/.217/.318, 45 wRC+)
  5. Mitch Moreland, 1B (.357/.357/.857, 228 wRC+)
  6. Christian Vázquez, C (.421/.450/1.105, 315 wRC+)
  7. Alex Verdugo, RF (.333/.400/.333, 112 wRC+)
  8. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF (.400/.455/.500, 168 wRC+)
  9. José Peraza, 2B (.276/.300/.345, 79 wRC+)

Vázquez is tearing the cover off the ball and his wRC+ is second to none other than Giancarlo Stanton (323). As you can see, a handful of Sox are in slumps to start the year. Devers, Bogaerts, and Benintendi in particular.

The typical lineup as shown above may be different this weekend since the Yankees have two lefties starting. Moreland may sit in favor of Michael Chavis. Benintendi could be dropped in the order. JBJ could be spelled by Kevin Pillar. Other bench options include Kevin Plawecki and infielders Tzu-Wei Lin and Jonathan Araúz.

Pitching Matchups

Tonight, 7:05 p.m. EDT: RHP Ryan Weber (vs. Yankees) vs. LHP Jordan Montgomery (vs. Red Sox)

Somehow, Weber is Boston’s third starter. On Sunday, he pitched like he didn’t belong in any rotation, let alone third starter. He allowed 9 base runners in 3 2/3 innings and surrendered 6 runs. To the Orioles, mind you.

Weber, who’s bounced around multiple organizations since he was drafted in 2009, actually had some success against the Yankees last year. He allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings vs. the Bombers across three appearances in 2019. That said, if you clicked the link to his batter vs. pitcher stats above, you’ll notice that Giancarlo Stanton and Luke Voit are absent. That won’t be the case tonight.


Tonight is Jordan Montgomery’s season debut. He was supposed to start earlier this week before the Phillies series was postponed. Instead, tonight marks a challenge for the young lefty as Boston has a couple of very tough right-handed power bats. Monty looked really good in camp and carved up a good Mets lineup a couple of weeks ago, but this will be a test against (still) one of the game’s better offenses.

Saturday, 7:07 p.m. EDT: RHP Zack Godley (vs. Yankees) vs. RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. Red Sox)

This is how desperate Boston is for pitching. Godley, who the Sox claimed on waivers just as the season got underway, is now a part of the rotation. Godley actually pitched well in his lone appearance for the Red Sox this season. In Monday’s loss to the Mets, the righty entered in relief and delivered four shutout innings. He also struck out seven.


For the Yankees: I didn’t think we’d see Masahiro Tanaka back this early. Not after taking a 112 mph line drive to the head during Summer Camp. It’s good to see Tanaka ready so soon, but he’s not out of the woods yet. We know that all too well from Clint Frazier’s struggle with concussion symptoms.

This is also Tanaka’s first start of his contract year, by the way. Hopefully, it’s more of the same we’ve grown used to in New York. He’s had a terrific career in pinstripes (3.75 ERA, 3.88 FIP) and is playoff tested (1.76 ERA in 46 innings). Do it again Masa and come back for more next year.

Sunday, 7:08 p.m. EDT: TBD/Bullpen Game vs. LHP James Paxton (vs. Red Sox)

Manager Ron Roenicke hasn’t announced who will start Sunday, though it’s expected to be a bullpen game. The Red Sox have done one bullpen game thus far this season and started lefty Josh Osich, so perhaps that’s in store again here.

All eyes will be on The Big Maple’s second start. He was downright awful last weekend and there’s some reason for concern. Will he regain his velocity? Will his mechanics, namely his arm slot, look off? Time isn’t on Paxton’s side to figure these things out given the short season. Hopefully the extra couple of days rest makes a difference. Seeing a redux of this would make me happy:

Bullpen Status

RHP: Brandon Workman (Closer), Matthew Barnes, Heath Hembree, Ryan Brasier, Austin Brice, Colten Brewer, Marcus Walden, Phillips Valdez, Chris Mazza

LHP: Josh Osich, Jeffrey Springs, Matt Hall

If your first thought was: “who are these people?”, you’re not alone. You’re probably familiar with Workman and Barnes, and maybe Hembree, Brasier, and Walden, but that’s about it. Workman’s actually pretty darn good: he posted a 1.88 ERA and 2.46 FIP in 71 2/3 innings last season. The problem? He, along with Boston’s other top relievers, may not be available to start this series against the Yankees:

*rubs hands* This has slugfest potential, folks. Boston will have to trout out it’s lesser relievers this weekend and the Yankees have to capitalize on that opportunity.

Is it too much to ask for another sweep? I at least expect the Yankees to win the first two against Weber and Godley. I really don’t know what to expect from Paxton on Sunday after what we saw against the Nationals. If he’s bad again, the Yankees may have to climb out of a big hole early. Let’s hope not. It’s time to bury Boston before they have any chance to get their hopes up this season.

The Rob Manfred Conundrum

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Rob Manfred is the perfect embodiment of sports in 2020.

There has never been a time in American professional sports when the intent of owners and league executives is more clear. Similar to the office of President in the minds of some men, sports are an incredible avenue to generate profit. Team owners laugh and scoff at the idea of winning championships. Their grins spread from ear to ear at the thought of the earnings their shiny toys generate. These are savvy businessmen who largely view the franchises we love as nothing more than an additional stream of income. And despite being totally unable to increase the popularity and relevance of his sport, Rob Manfred makes his bosses very happy. He has secured lucrative TV and licensing deals among other revenue-producing ventures. In some ways, Manfred’s reign is a rousing success.

Life would be great if all of our jobs were that simple. We make our bosses happy and sometimes we reap the rewards (at least during “normal” times). The issue for Manfred is his responsibility extends beyond making money hand over fist for billionaires. The commissioner is the steward of competitive integrity for the league. In order for business to maintain public trust, he or she needs to ensure that the product on the field is fair. The Apple Watch offense, the Houston Astros’ scandal, and the Boston Red Sox sign-stealing scheme are clear demonstrations that Major League Baseball has a cheating problem. The league is like the Ashton Kutcher of pro sports. The foundational integrity of the game is at stake. And yet, Manfred is seemingly content with doing the absolute least to protect it.

It is hard to imagine someone dropping the ball in two significant investigations. At the very least, the first probe should have been a roadmap for the second one. Instead, the Boston “punishment” is impressively weaker than the Houston punishment. In fact, the details of the Red Sox investigation slightly suggest the players were in some way victims of the cheating scheme. This is a quote from Manfred’s statement:

I feel bound by the agreement not to impose discipline on Red Sox players who testified truthfully in this matter. Even if I were not so bound, I do not believe that the Red Sox players who suspected that Watkins used game feeds to decode sign sequences should be held responsible for his conduct. Watkins knew of the rules and was responsible for not utilizing the replay system to decode sign sequences. Some players may have suspected that Watkins was using the replay system improperly, but they did not know that with certainty. Others had no idea how Watkins obtained the sign information. 

Rob Manfred

In Rob Manfred’s absurdist world, the video replay system operator is a bigger culprit than the players on the field. The idea that some players “suspected” Watkins was up to something but didn’t know for sure is laughable. Was Watkins simply a connoisseur of sign stealing? Was he building up his resume to be the future manager or general manager of the Houston Astros? Are we really to believe the video replay system operator wasn’t in partnership with at least one Red Sox player in a sign-stealing scheme? As my grandmother likes to say, I was born at night, but not last night.

The commissioner can’t help but view his decisions through the lens of labor. I’ve said this in a previous column, but it bears repeating. Manfred will do everything he can to limit the leverage of the players union. He granted the Astros and Red Sox players immunity in exchange for open testimony so the Players Association didn’t have a rallying cry for future collective bargaining. Despite their collective public denouncement of the Astros cheating scheme, there is no way the players would accept the precedent of historical player suspensions. It wouldn’t bode well for the future of their union members. As it currently stands, the owners are in the driver’s seat when it comes to CBA negotiations. The union has weak leadership. Manfred doesn’t want to give the players a lifeline. The rationale makes total sense, but it comes at the cost of the game he leads.

All of this begs the question, what are Rob Manfred’s intentions? Is he just an extension of the owners’ desire to cash in on the game? Does he genuinely care about the health of the sport? Is he at all interested in moving the game forward? It is becoming painfully obvious that Rob Manfred lacks vision. The obsession with pitch clocks, mound visits, and three batter minimums is nothing more than window dressing for an utter lack of progressive thinking to make the game better.

Under Manfred’s watch, we’re experiencing the major league version of corporate profit margins, downsizing, and lack of awareness. We’re witnessing a broken free agent and arbitration system. Minor League baseball will soon lose multiple affiliations. The amateur draft, under the guise of the coronavirus pandemic, will almost certainly cut down its rounds in the years to come. The sport has yet to make inroads in black communities and it severely lacks mainstream stars.

And yet, financially the game has never been healthier. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the revenues were pouring in. The business side of baseball is booming. The bottom line is a great smokescreen for a stagnant game. The frustrating part is a lot of us know it’s stagnant, but we keep coming back for more.

And that is what makes Rob Manfred great at his job. He can feign being tough on baseball crime knowing that baseball fans will really be the judge and jury for teams like the Astros and Red Sox. He just needs to do the bare minimum because he knows the fans will do a lot of the heavy work. Fans will continue to watch on tv and pay for tickets. We’ll keep buying apparel. Some will keep creating gifs for social media consumption so MLB doesn’t have to spend more money on marketing. And others will write blog posts complaining about the commissioner’s unimpressive performance. All the while, Manfred continues to make his bosses happy.

Rob Manfred is the perfect embodiment of sports in 2020.

News & Notes: Red Sox Discipline, Minor League Contraction, & Some Old Friends

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Red Sox Sign Stealing Penalties

Rob Manfred handed down discipline related to the league’s investigation into the Red Sox organization’s behavior during the 2018 season. The commissioner placed the onus on the team’s replay system operator, JT Watkins. That said, some players clearly had to be involved for the scheme to work. Manfred also noted that the team’s transgressions were not at the level of what the Astros did previously. Essentially, Watkins decoded the signals for the players to use when they were on second base and could share the information with the hitter.

As a result, these are the penalties:

  • Watkins has been suspended for all of 2020, including the postseason. He cannot serve in that position in 2021, though he can return in another capacity.
  • The Red Sox must forfeit their 2nd round draft pick this year.
  • Alex Cora is suspended for 2020, but not for his conduct as Red Sox manager. Rather, for his conduct while Houston’s bench coach in 2017.

State of the Minor League structure

According to Baseball America’s JJ Cooper, the MiLB is prepared to concede 40 affiliates in a new Professional Baseball Agreement with the MLB. There was quite a bit of public pushback when we first heard this rumored months ago, but to hear that MiLB is willing to accept this is a bit of a shock. For what it’s worth MiLB released a statement countering Cooper’s report.

There’s been some concern about the future of the Staten Island Yankees with regard to the new PBA. Pinstriped Prospects’ Robert Pimpsner wrote about what this means for the Yankees’ short-season A-ball affiliate.

A-Rod and J-Lo to bid for the Mets?

My first reaction to the Variety report: this would be so weird. I know A-Rod grew up a Mets fan, but it’s just weird to envision him becoming the face of the club after being with the Yankees for so long. And J-Lo is from the Bronx, of course. But hey, money talks if they can accumulate enough of it. The power couple needs to raise a good deal of money in order to purchase the Mets from the Wilpon family. They’ve enlisted the help of JPMorgan Chase to do so.

The Mets were nearly sold to Steve Cohen just months ago before negotiations fell apart near the finish line. Nothing ever comes easy with the Wilpons, so one would have to imagine things won’t be much different this time around.

In any case, should this actually come to fruition, we could have A-Rod vs. Derek Jeter in the same division!

Checking in on an old friend

Brendan Kuty of NJ.com caught up with ex-Yankee Tyler Austin, who signed with the DeNA BayStars of Yokohama for the 2020 season. Gotta be honest, I totally missed that Austin was headed to the NPB this year. I knew he had bounced around with a few MLB clubs after the Yankees dealt him to Minnesota and figured he was still around. Anyway, playing in Japan would be a nice opportunity for Austin to re-establish himself. Unfortunately, like for everyone else, the coronavirus has gotten in the way.

Checking in on another old friend

The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler caught up with Aaron Small of 2005 Yankees’ fame. The journeyman righty provided that 2005 club a shot in the arm when he pitched to a 3.20 ERA in 15 games (9 starts) and went 10-0. Then 33 years-old, it was the only real success Small had at the big league level. But wow, was it an incredible run and story at the time.

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