For The Dodgers, MLB’s Astros Punishment is Not Enough

On Monday morning, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the long-awaited punishment for the Houston Astros, as a result of the sign-stealing investigation. 

The punishments, listed in the above tweet, were not nearly enough. Not only did the Astros disrespect the integrity of the game, but their cheating resulted in demotions and tarnished legacies.

There is no doubt Rob Manfred had a difficult task in assessing the Astros punishment. However, it would have been better to go a little overboard than to go light on them, as he did. 

The first part of Houston’s punishment, taking away their round one and two picks in 2020 and 2021, was well-intentioned, yet not enough. All four of those picks will be in the back of their round, meaning Houston isn’t missing out on much premier young talent. Also, Houston will still have a first round pick this year as compensation for losing Gerrit Cole in free agency. 

Manfred also decided not to touch Houston’s international pool money, meaning they can still sign young talent overseas. To only take a total of four draft picks and not even touch Houston’s international pool money, is a missed opportunity from MLB. 

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The second part of Houston’s punishment is the $5 Million fine. While this is pennies for Houston, it is the maximum fine allowed under the Major League Constitution, so Manfred can’t be blamed for this. As referenced earlier, digging into their international pool money would have been a logical way to make up for this minuscule fine. 

Lastly, manager A.J. Hinch and President of Baseball Operations Jeff Luhnow were both suspended a year. According to Manfred, he found neither one to be deeply involved with the sign-stealing scheme, but both turned a blind eye rather than putting a stop to it. Despite this, a one year suspension is not enough.

Baseball managers are easily replaceable, so Hinch’s absence for a year would not mean much regarding Houston’s 2020 success. As for Luhnow, he is eligible to return immediately after the 2020 World Series, meaning he could still work during the off-season, when the bulk of transactions take place. The only big event he’d really be missing out on is the 2020 trade deadline. 

When assessing the punishment, the most important thing to consider is if it will be a deterrent to teams from cheating in the future. Draft picks and money are meant to eventually lead to a World Series, and I think all 29 other teams would trade four picks, five million dollars, and a one-year hiatus to get the World Series up front and the financial benefits (that well exceed $5M) to come with it. 

Thankfully, Astros owner Jim Crane stepped up firing both of them, which relieved MLB of a lot of backlash. Credit to Crane, the valuable precedent of cheating leading to being fired has been set. Manfred dropped the ball, but Crane picked it right back up. 

One last nugget to think about is the absence of any player punishment in what Manfred described as a “player driven scheme”. It’s made clear by the report that the masterminds behind the operation were the players and bench coach Alex Cora. So why do the players get off scot-free? 

Manfred makes a good point in that it would be difficult to pick out which players were involved and which weren’t. However, the message being sent here is that it is okay to cheat, as long as a large group of players are involved. Manfred had an opportunity to give the true architects of the cheating scheme what they deserved, but once again fell short.

Dodgers Podcast: Fans Lose in Astros Punishment


  1. I posted this earlier on a different article
    but this question remains what are we going to do as fans to take the power away from MLB or do we feel collectively like there isn’t a way to take the power back.
    How do common fans get their game back?
    Is the trust shaken enough where fans stop spending money (even though they love THEIR teams in my case the Dodgers) to get the game back.
    It took the black sox scandal and fans whose trust was shaken by that scandal for baseball to take notice.
    Fans stopped coming to the ball park.
    What is it going to take to get our beloved game back from the clutches of people that should not be in leadership dictating baseball the commissioner and his henchmen.

    They of pretty much set a precedent that if there’s enough players involved and a championship is on the line that they will do practically nothing in order to make sure that it won’t happen again.

    The only thing these people (mlb) understand and side with is money.

    collectively the fans of all teams band together and boycotted baseball. it would bring MLB to its knees they would have to do something about this scandal besides slap on the wrist. It would also set a clear message for the future of any other scandals and how MLB will deal with them. It would take total solidarity for something like this to happen.

    Most folks would say well my team didn’t cheat or wasn’t involved. The reality is is that a scandal of this magnitude effects every team. And has long reaching effects. It has taken place both in 2017 and most likely 2018.

    So What are WE as fans of baseball going to do about it if MLB itself won’t clean itself up. It is up to us to take the power back.
    This is ultimately our game our love affair and if we don’t do something about it. We will allow major league baseball to remain in power and continuing the miss management would prevent further look the other direction policies because the money is right.

    1. Dear Blue: You are correct. If a fan-based mass movement resulted in substantial reduced attendance and sustained public outcry (and thus lowered media revenue), the fat cats would pay attention. (The comment elsewhere that most, if not all, of the owners would trade the fine and other penalties for a world championship, if true, is disgusting but indicative of a capitalist economic system.) However, I very much doubt any such public outrage will take place. As witness, I must remind you of the public’s relatively immaterial and short-lived reaction to the drug scandals of the Nineties. (Also note San Francisco Giants management’s current attempt to rebrand Barry Balco Bonds as Great Local Hero.)

  2. To be fair, the Yankees probably have a bigger beef with the Asteriks than Dodgers. Maybe at least as big? MLB can’t give the Dodgers the trophy, because maybe the Dodgers should have been playing the Yankees instead? It’s a tough one.
    While I agree the punishments should have been more, (Cora needs a lifetime ban) giving the Dodgers the trophy doesn’t solve the problem!
    It’s a black eye on baseball for sure, but the game will survive it, and the Asteriks have to live with it for the rest of their lives.

    1. There should be no winners in ‘17 and ‘18 and MLB just has to sack up and accept the fact that two World Series were tainted and move forward. Cora should be banned as well as Hinch and Luhnhow for knowing about it. Beltran isn’t innocent either he knew and partook and even suggested they improve on communication which started the whole thing. Any players that participated be suspended 1 year without pay and all international money taken away

  3. It will be if the Dodgers are found out to have stollen signs in 15,16,17,18…. if rumors are true.
    Complaints become null and void.
    However… all just rumors and players saying Dodgers stole signs with electronics.

  4. I don’t know all the answers to all of this. I doubt that every player on these teams condoned the cheating, and it’s hard to be a whistle blower if you want to keep having a career. But I do know this, investigations are supposed to lead to ringleaders. Alex Cora fits that bill. He should get a lifetime ban from baseball. Any other players and coaches who actively helped to put the system of cheating together deserve harsh punishment. This was a highly orchestrated system. The guy banging on the trash can or pipes knew he was signalling the batter. That’s active and willful cheating. That’s just one obvious example. How about the guy who set up the monitor in the dugout every game. He knew what he was doing too. Getting the top guys behind the scheme or in the organizational hierarchy is good. They are ultimately responsible. But players and others who were instrumental in devising and/or carrying out the scheme need to know that their careers could end too. And get the umps involved. They aren’t blind or deaf right? If they hear banging before each pitch, they should call time out and check it out. They should check the dugouts for monitors before the game and between innings. Let’s get some preventive measures in place to prevent this from happening again. Punishment is necessary for all rule breakers, but policing is required too. MLB still has alot of stuff to address.

  5. You can’t give the trophy retroactively to either the Dodgers or the Yankees. But you can take it away from the Astros. The world has not come to an end because there was no World Series champion in eitehr 1904 or 1994. I totally disagree with the argument that you can’t change the results on the field. MLB changed the results on the field regarding the George Brett pine tar bat incident.

  6. Players may have been given immunity for their testimonies but the title wasn’t. Take it away. Vacate that title. Leave it blank.

    1. I wasn’t convinced early on that the titles should be vacated, but more and more I agree with it. Vacate them completely with no champions for 2017 or 2018. You can’t give them to the Dodgers because lots of teams (like the Yankees) where cheated at a shot to win it all. So just take them away, and give them to nobody. And when we look at the stats years from now, we’ll look at the absence of champions in those two years and remember, “Oh yes, those are the years they cheated.”. And it really should be remembered, so it doesn’t happen again.

    1. Robin, I would vacate those WS Championships as well but MLB has proven to be gutless as far as the penalties here. Sad because they should have taken away ALL draft picks, international slot money and eve that compensation pick from Cole going to another team

      1. While i agree “the book should be thrown at” the Astros organization, harsh action is unlikely – because there is little documented support for such action in “the book”. MLB “OFFICIAL BASEBALL RULES” language does not directly address the “sign-stealing” issue, per se, & really doesn’t even make vague reference to it as “misconduct” or “unsportsmanlike conduct”. That being said, i suppose it’s possible sign-stealing “rules” are part of a different bylaw (that) I am unaware of. Consequently, it is not really fair to impose discipline for breaking a rule that does not yet exist. Despite highly charged emotions, it is certainly possible the Houston Astros did not commit an actual illegal action, albiet it may have been unethical.

        1. Manfred had sent teams a memo stating these exact behaviors will not be tolerated and that stiff penalties will be brought down on teams who violated them. This was done before the 2017 season. So you most definitely set a precedence and throw the book at them.

          1. Manfred must have meant a matchbook. Corrupt as a Mexican Presidential election….

  7. Serious question…
    Say next year a team wins WS and a week later reports come out key players used PEDs to win the WS.
    The uproar would be tremendous and title would be tainted. The other team would be beyond upset.

    Yankee teams of 98,99,00,09 fit that bill.
    Do you take away those titles when clearly there were players cheating to gain an edge.
    Obviously those titles are tainted.

  8. I’m sure glad the Astros are not part of the Dodgers’ 2020 regular season playing schedule. That could have easily been a very ugly scene.

    1. I want an ugly scene. I want broken ribs head hunting and fistacuffs. I wish they were playing

      1. well, as “Mike” suggests, perhaps the Angels home opener April 3, 2020 can be the venue of vengeance for the Astros. {:-)

  9. Judgment Day is still yet to arrive for the Astros. MLB blew it on the punishment, but the real punishment will come from all the people that bet on the Dodgers in the World Series and lost their money, whether it’s Game 3, Game 5 or the entire World Series. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions. Those are the people that are really pissed off right now, I’m sure many of those people are mafia/gangsters, look for them to go after the Astros. Ironically for the Astros justice could very well be served by organized crimes. Expect multiple lawsuits to be filed against the Astros from those people. Alex Cora will forever be a marked man in Vegas.

  10. LOL y’all are ridiculous. There are at least 7 other teams according to reports that are going to be investigated including the Yankees and Dodgers (others named include Rangers and Twins)! Get over your self righteous attitude. And as for 1904 (AND 1903) the Giants refused to play the world series and then in 1994 the players refused to play in it.

    1. Nobody is ridiculous here. You can’t condone cheating. If any other teams, including the Dodgers, are found to have cheated, then they need massive repercussions brought down on them as well.

      1. I concur, Nate. If a Pandora’s Box has been opened, so be it. Sometimes we, Dodgers fans, must simply find amusement in the fact that non Dodger fans enjoy commenting on this forum, especially when their teams struggle for relevance.

  11. 1. Vacate titles – thus denying players from EVER having the honor/prestige of being introduced as “World Champions” in their post playing careers.
    2. REQUIRE rings be surrendered – the ONLY thing their millions can’t buy.
    3. Disallow both Astros and Red Sox from post season play.
    4. MLB to acknowledge all 2017 & 2018 post season teams and their fans were CHEATED. Offer MLB’s apology and commitment to redouble efforts to keep this from ever happening again with special attention given to Dodgers inasmuch as they played in both Series.
    5. None of this would ever be enough and of course will never happen.

    Manfred would never do that because it would damage the financial value of the two franchises, i.e. if they can’t qualify or post season, why would anyone attend games?

    1. Why isn’t Loreta Lynch investigating MLB,like she did against FIFA that put all the corrupted people involved in jail.I’m sure she can force the commissioner to take away titles and give life suspensions to everybody involved.

  12. All players knew they were cheating,they tainted the game just like the 1919 white sox,therefore they should all be suspended for life and both teams can start with minor leaguers that’s fair punishment otherwise install Pete Rose in Hall Of Fame.

  13. MLBer Logan Morrison implicated NYY and Dodgers. This was a problem throughout baseball. Lenny Dykstra called the investigation a big joke. Cheating was pervasive.

    1. Well if Lenny Dykstra thinks it’s a joke then it must be. After all he’s such a great person. That POS would defend electronic cheating

  14. We are starting to see how corrupt MLB has been for decades. Almost as corrupt as boxing, but just barely below it. I honestly don’t think you can extract the corruption for MLB if you tried. It’s in the DNA of players down to the little leagues. They are raised to cheat because winning is the priority over ethics. Manfred being a very bad example. Manfred running MLB is like a thief being your accountant.

  15. If it’s proven that they cheated…then the trophy should be removed from the Astro’s with an Asterisk….and given to the Dodgers with an Asterisk! How can they remain the recognized Series Champs
    After breaking the rules by cheating?

  16. Dan in Pasadena – see above – has a great specific proposal.

    The commissioner, like all executives, has no balls, which is why he got where he is.

  17. Remember when Morrow collapsed in the 2017 WS against the Astros after a great regular season? Remember how lots of people speculated that he hit a wall after so many great appearances and so many pitches? Looks different now. He didn’t hit a pitch count wall. He just got robbed by cheaters.. Like Darvish his career was seriously damaged by the Astros cheating.

  18. So any team in the past that had a player or players using steroids those world series titles should be vacant as well? Your taught from farm to try and steal the other teams signs, unfortunately as technology improves new ways will be tried out. MLB allows scouts to be in the stands and can use a camera, binoculars or telescope and a writing tablet to get signs from opposing team. The catch is you can’t use your findings the same day. Look it up, MLB may want to get rid of that rule instead of i endorsing sign stealing. Until then it will keep on going, boys will be boys no matter how much money there fined how how many years there baned from baseball it doesn’t matter. They think they won’t get caught, they don’t care about the consequences. Example or jail and prison population. I’m not trying to compare apples to oranges just comparing state of minds.

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