Beltran has not said much about the scandal in public, at least since insisting he knew nothing of the camera used to steal signs in a text message to the New York Post after The Athletic report.
Lying to the news media is one thing, but what about the clubhouse? Beltran has always been deeply respected by players, but that was before all this.
Rick Porcello, who is projected to be in Beltran’s Mets rotation, faced the Astros in Houston on June 17, 2017, when he pitched for the Red Sox. Porcello gave up 10 hits and seven runs that day, including a homer to Beltran. Another Mets starter, Marcus Stroman, faced the Astros in Houston in 2017 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. Stroman gave up 11 hits, matching a season-high, and his team lost. The Mets’ Seth Lugo also lost a start in Houston that September.
Maybe those pitchers, knowing what they know now, do not blame Beltran for one bad day on their stat sheet, but maybe they do. In any case, the Mets badly need to address Beltran’s status. If they are satisfied with his contrition and believe he can still lead the team — despite having no prior managing experience — then say so.
If they keep Beltran, though, the Mets must understand that they are adhering to a different moral code than the Astros and the Red Sox. It is true the Astros — and possibly the Red Sox under Cora in 2018 — greatly benefited from illicit sign-stealing, so their decisions could be an attempt to make up for that. Firing the manager also saves them the awkwardness of using a fill-in while waiting for a suspension to end.
But officially, at least, those teams have said the stench of this scandal was so fetid they had to get rid of the source. When a reporter asked on Wednesday if Cora deserved a second chance somewhere, the Boston officials waited five awkward seconds before the chief executive Sam Kennedy gave a reply. He did not answer yes.
“Alex is an incredibly talented manager and accomplished great things with us,” Kennedy said. “He has expressed remorse, apologized yesterday to us for the embarrassment that this caused, and I think he’ll go through a process of rehabilitation, so we’ll see what happens. It would be hard to speculate. But he is an extreme talent.”