Judgment Day: How Houston Astros’ punishment impacts Yankees, Mets, MLB

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Houston Astros, Carlos Beltran, Aaron Judge, Jose Altuve

The day of reckoning has arrived for the Houston Astros, but how does the punishment impact the New York Yankees, Mets and MLB?

The Houston Astros have been served. According to Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drelich of The Athletic, the Astros were fined $5 million, lost first and second-round picks in 2020 and 2021, former assistant general manager Brandon Taubman was placed on MLB’s ineligible list, and both Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch were suspended for the season.

Astros owner Jim Crane took it one step further by firing both Luhnow and Hinch. There are a few major questions from the news bombshell baseball activity on this January day, but, most importantly, how does it impact the New York Yankees, Mets and the rest of baseball? 

Was the punishment enough?

There are varying opinions on the severity of the punishment. However, the reaction from people who work and cover the game seems to be that this was fair.

Some have argued the fine could have been larger. The maximum a team can be fined is $5 million. I’d argue that the money could have been used against their international pool money and that would have been more effective. It limits how the team can operate in the future and has become an asset in today’s game.

Some fans wanted to see certain players suspended. Arguing that since no punishment came down on the players, there’s nothing to stop them from doing this again. However, Eno Sarris, a writer for The Athletic, made a great point: Jobs in baseball are rare, and now every GM and manager knows the repercussions of cheating. They’ll likely enforce the players to prevent them from doing this again.

Another issue with suspending players is that it becomes difficult to figure out which players are you going to suspend? A lot of them knowingly used the system, but if you suspend the whole team, the Astros don’t have any players. It’s a waste of time and something the Players Association would never agree to, anyway. 

The suspensions for Luhnow and Hinch might seem light. But it is believed that Rob Manfred likely knew that Crane would fire them both, so he kept it to just a year. Some have argued that they knowingly cheated to win a ring, so they should be suspended for life.

I don’t agree with the argument, but I can understand how some feel that way. It’s a bit extreme and the Manfred did say that if the two were caught again, they’d put on the ineligible list. As warnings go, this is pretty strong.

What happens to Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran? 

The one thought that was coming through my head was Alex Cora is in a lot of trouble. The report names him as one of the instigators of this sign-stealing operation. Even worse for Cora… he is now under investigation for stealing signs with the Red Sox and Manfred has said that his punishment will come after that investigation is over.

He will likely face more than a year suspension and some have pondered if a lifetime ban is possible. I believe that’s unlikely, but I would not be surprised if it happens. Cora is likely to be fired by the Red Sox soon. It’s the last year of his contract and he’ll be suspended for it anyway. There’s just no reason to keep Cora around.

For Carlos Beltran, nothing will likely happen. He was a player during this period and as already stated and it’s difficult to punish the players for this. He should keep his job with the Mets, but a lot of eyes will be on the first-year manager.

Opposing teams may use multiple signs when they come to play in Queens this year in fear that Beltran will have implemented a new system. That’s pure speculation, but don’t be surprised if you see multiple signs from opposing teams.

Gerrit Cole, Cole Train T-Shirt

Should the Astros have lost their title?

No, this isn’t the NCAA. You can’t strip teams of titles. We all saw them win, the players already celebrated, the rings have been given out. It wouldn’t change anything for the future.

The only thing taking the title away would do is make people feel good. That’s not important towards preventing this from happening again, which the loss of draft picks and suspension for the GM and manager will do. The Astros didn’t win fair and square, but they still won.

Can’t go back and change that. There is no point in trying to do so.

How does this affect the 2017 Yankees?

It doesn’t affect the 2017 Yankees. The players might feel a little more vindicated by believing that they could have beat the Astros if the system wasn’t in place. CC Sabathia has even stated on his podcast that he knew “those guys didn’t beat us clean. I knew we were better than them.” 

Aaron Judge probably can have an even bigger gripe about losing the MVP to Jose Altuve. The judge was undeniably better than Altuve during the season and lost mainly because of Judge’s month-long slump.

Judge has removed a post on his Instagram congratulating Altuve on his MVP. Perhaps an upset Aaron Judge will make an impact in 2020?

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