What punishment should Alex Cora expect in sign-stealing scandal?

The Houston Astros received tough punishments for their sign-stealing scandal. What level of punishment could be coming for Alex Cora?

One of the most prominent name’s in MLB’s sign-stealing scandal was left out of the punishment handed down on Monday by Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who served as the Houston Astros bench coach in their 2017 World Series title season, was named a number of times in the report but did not receive punishment for his role in the team’s cheating scandal. Instead, Cora will be punished once the league completes it’s investigation of the 2018 Red Sox, who are also accused of sign-stealing.

Cora’s punishment is expected to be harsh, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. And that’s not surprising when you consider his role.

Cora is accused of being the mastermind behind the scheme in Houston, and he is the manager of the second team under investigation. While it isn’t clear yet what role Cora played in the cheating scheme in Boston, his appearance in both coaching staffs will surely be considered by the Commissioner.

From Manfred’s statement:

Cora was involved in developing both the banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs. Cora participated in both schemes, and through his active participation, implicitly condoned the players’ conduct. I will withhold determining the appropriate level of discipline for Cora until after the DOI completes its investigation of the allegations that the Red Sox engaged in impermissible electronic sign stealing in 2018 while Cora was the manager.

MLB’s investigation confirmed that the Houston Astros stole pitching signs during the 2017 season using the center field camera. They streamed the feed from that camera to a screen in the tunnel between the dugout and the clubhouse. People would watch the stream, decode the signs, and communicate those signs to hitters by banging on trashcans.

The Red Sox are accused of illegally using the video replay room to decode signs. The room is just steps away from the dugout, and once they had decoded the signs, they would communicate those signs to a base runner, who could then communicate them to a hitter. The mode of communication and the need for a base runner differentiate this from the system the Houston Astros used.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch was suspended for a full season for his team’s conduct and then promptly fired by the club. His suspension is tied for the second-longest for a manager in MLB history. Pete Rose, who accepted a lifetime ban from MLB in 1989, is the only manager who was suspended for longer.

At this point, it seems Cora can expect more than a year. The combination of being behind the scheme in Houston and being the link between two clubs under investigation puts Cora in a much worse situation than Hinch.

Considering the Astros set the precedent by firing Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow, it isn’t much of a stretch to say that Cora could be on his way out in Boston no matter what the league does.

Until MLB delivers a ruling on Cora and the Red Sox, the organization will surely be deciding whether they plan to stick with him or cut ties like Houston did when the decision comes down.

Next: How much will the Astros miss Hinch and Luhnow?

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