MLB's cheating scandal is now focusing on new Mets manager Carlos Beltran, and it could involve the Yankees
Seth Wenig/AP Images
- The fallout of the Houston Astros cheating scandal could reach Carlos Beltran and affect the New York Yankees and the New York Mets.
- Beltran was named in MLB's investigation as a key figure in the Astros' cheating scheme but was not punished because he was a player at the time.
- People who were with the Astros in 2017 have spoken about how much Beltran helped "behind the scenes," saying they believed he was a big part of the Yankees' success in 2018 when he joined the team as an advisor.
- Beltran is currently the manager of the Mets, and some think he won't be able to keep his job after being named in the scheme.
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The ripple effects of the Houston Astros cheating scheme of electronically stealing signs could make their way to the New York Yankees and New York Mets through Carlos Beltran.
As first reported by The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich, the Astros placed a camera in centerfield of Minute Maid Park that was focused on the opposing catcher and relayed to a TV in the tunnel leading to the dugout. Players would watch the TV for signals, then smack a garbage can with a bat to tip-off batters to off-speed pitches. While stealing signs is legal in MLB, using electronic equipment to do so is not.
Rosenthal and Drellich reported that Beltran, a designated hitter and outfielder in the final year of his playing career in 2017, was heavily involved in designing the Astros' scheme. Hired as the manager of the Mets this offseason, he was the only player named in Commissioner Rob Manfred's report on MLB's investigation into the Astros.
After investigating, MLB came down hard on the Astros, fining the team $5 million, docking them first- and second-round picks in 2020 and 2021, and suspending GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch for one year. The Astros later fired Luhnow and Hinch.
On Tuesday, the Boston Red Sox fired manager Alex Cora, who was a bench coach with the Astros in 2017 and reportedly involved in designing the scheme. The Athletic reported in January that the Red Sox were also said to have stolen signs electronically in 2018 by using the video replay room for managers.
David J. Phillip/AP Images
However, the baseball world is now speculating whether Beltran, the Mets, and Yankees will get caught up in the scandal.
Beltran was the Yankees' "biggest free-agent acquisition"
A press conference from 2018 in which Cora discussed Beltran has been re-circulating this week. It came after the Red Sox lost two straight games to the Yankees in London. Cora was asked about the Yankees offense scoring 29 runs in two days and credited Beltran, who had been hired as an advisor to the team.
"That's a good offensive team, we know that. They've gotten a lot better in the last year. The attention to detail is phenomenal," Cora said of the Yankees.
"I was joking with somebody that their biggest free-agent acquisition is Carlos Beltran. I know how he works. He's helped them a lot. They're very into details, and we have to clean our details. It was eye-opening, the last two days, from top to bottom."
Cora then caught some by surprise by mentioning "devices," unsolicited.
"I'm not saying 'devices,' all that stuff, it's just stuff that the game will dictate."
It's the second time in recent months that an old quote about Beltran has raised eyebrows.
In November 2019, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman told The Athletic's Rustin Dodd that he thought Beltran helped the Yankees, with a wry smile. From Dodd's interview with Bregman:
"'I think Carlos Beltrán helped out the Yankees this year a lot,' Bregman said. 'Like a lot lot.'"
"The statement came accompanied by a wry smile and a lack of specifics. A follow-up inquiry was unsuccessful. 'He helps a lot behind the scenes,' Bregman said, holding his expression."
Cora and Bregman's comments may not mean anything. But as The Athletic initially reported in November, "Electronic sign stealing is not a single-team issue."
Will the Mets keep Beltran?
If Beltran remains the Mets manager, he would be the only person named in the report who would remain in a job. Some think that's not right.
"I don't think the Mets have a choice either - they have to fire Carlos Beltran," former player Mark Texeira said on ESPN's "Get Up" on Wednesday. "The only reason Beltran wasn't punished as a bigger part of this was because of that immunity ... This is a guy who, him and Alex Cora, were the main culprits. Alex Cora got fired on the spot by the Boston Red Sox. The New York Mets are in an impossible situation. There's no way that Carlos Beltran, especially in the pressure cooker of New York, there's no way he can be the manager of the Mets."
Beltran told The New York Post in November that he was unaware of any scheme to electronically steal signs.
The New York Post's Ken Davidoff and Joel Sherman wondered if the specter of the scandal might be too distracting for a Mets team attempting to make a run at the playoffs.
SNY's Andy Martino noted that while the Mets aren't obligated to comment - and aren't allowed to comment on discipline for other teams - they also haven't issued any statement backing Beltran as their manager.
ESPN's Jeff Passan reported that many in baseball felt that, despite the unprecedented punishments handed down by the league on the Astros, the punishments were not severe enough. While players weren't punished and the Astros' 2017 championship wasn't revoked, there may still be fallout to come from the entire ordeal.
Here's video of the Alex Cora soundbite we just played on @WFANmornings. This was following the Yankees' sweep of Boston in the 2019 London Series. Check out the wink after he brings up Carlos Beltran's name around :27 and unprovoked usage of the word "devices." (h/t @Pacmangrig) pic.twitter.com/HgkglIoB7O- Chris Lopresti (@CLoprestiWFAN) January 15, 2020
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