Red Sox are no ethics bellwether in San Diego trade issue

Jul 20, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell (53) walks to the mound to relieve starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz (31) during the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 20, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell (53) walks to the mound to relieve starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz (31) during the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

Red Sox Nation is now bristling over the possibility that the San Diego Padres withheld medical information on a recent trade. Boston is not angelic itself.

Did the Boston Red Sox get scammed in a recent deal with the San Diego Padres? The issue was the release of complete medical information on the players being exchanged and that is SOP, or standard operating procedure, in baseball and occasionally there is a problem when questions arise – in this case, the trade of Drew Pomeranz for the Red Sox most prominent pitching prospect, Anderson Espinoza.

The Miami Marlins and San Diego Padres recently had a transaction nullified when a player traded had some injury concerns and that is indeed somewhat rare since the deal had already been consummated – a reversal of fortune.

Usually, transitions are reworked when medical questions surface with players being substituted to complete the transaction or just having the deal canceled. This is nothing earth shattering and professional teams deal with it when it happens.

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The volumes of medical information is extensive since players represent a significant investment with bonus money for signing, salaries for those on the movement in years of services and the staggering cost of player development within a system. A few years ago I believe the Red Sox medical staff recognized a concussion on infielder Julio Lugo by comparing a preseason CAT scan with one done after the injury.

The system is based on a level of honesty and trust since teams are operated individually, but also are a business collective that has a management structure – The Commissioner – to supervise and maintain some degree of order to ensure self-regulation and avoid any real nastiness such as antitrust exemptions. The commissioner has broad-based powers for those that attempt to cut corners and that was clearly displayed to the Red Sox in their attempt to circumvent international signing rules. The penalty was a harsh reminder to every franchise.

Another incident of note was the computer hacking by a St. Louis Cardinals employee into the Houston Astros database. Cybercrime is now migrated to the national pastime. No more Black Sox scandals or the nonsense of a George Steinbrenner – both benchmarks in baseball punishment history as now the computer age has offered other opportunities to get three hots and a cot.

Pomeranz is staying in Boston

The deal was consummated and do not expect the history of Pomeranz to be meticulously expunged from the records of his Boston career. That ship has certainly left the pier and the two teams will have to resolve the unpleasant situation, or if no resolution is acceptable it falls into the jurisdiction of the commissioner.

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The situation is currently “fluid” so exactly what transpired is certainly still under investigation and that means that potentially the two most significant figures will be Dan Halem – Chief Legal Officer for major league baseball – and Ed Weiss of the Red Sox who holds the prestigious title of Executive Vice President / FSG Corporate Strategy and General Counsel – if it becomes primarily a legal issue.

The optimum solution would be for both parties to seek to resolve the situation before some type of nasty and public conflagration takes place, but that is all under the assumption that the Padres withheld pertinent medical information.

Crime and Punishment.

Let us assume that the Padres were not straightforward in their dealings and the Red Sox are now the aggrieved party. The Commissioner would attempt to mitigate if the Padres and Red Sox could not solve the situation and that in itself could be interesting. Just what that would entail is mere speculation. Potentially a list of players from the Padres organization could be submitted so like the menu at a Chinese restaurant the Red Sox could select a body or bodies to satisfy the offended (Red Sox) party.

That would be the logical choice, but since this is all about crime and punishment that means just what pound of flesh would the Padres have to surrender to satisfy Boston?

There are two levels in this situation with the first being the Red Sox and the second being the Padres actions that need to be addressed by the Commissioner.  Assume the Red Sox and Padres resolve their portion of the situation and now the other shoe has to drop.

That, of course, is all dependent upon the Commissioner and how they view the situation. Would they strip the Padres of a first round selection in 2017? A fine? Or just nothing? This current flap is the second time in a brief period the Padres have been implicated – not a way to curry favor.

The Padres could lose a player or players and a draft choice or even more. Just inflating a football in the National Football League can result in fines, suspensions and a loss of a number one draft pick. Would baseball be willing to go to that level if the Padres were deemed guilty of being secretive about necessary information?

What is distressing for this observer is the ethics involved if the ultimate evidence shows the Padres were guilty as charged. This is tantamount to what the Red Sox had attempted to do by their manipulation of the international bonus signings. In one instance – the Red Sox signing manipulation – it was proven, but the Padres situation has yet to be resolved. If indeed they attempted to avoid the system the punishment should certainly not be a minor one.

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The Red Sox fans quite naturally are in a melt down over this issue, especially since Pomeranz has been a five-star dud in four starts. No doubt this would be a non-issue if Pomeranz had tossed four complete game wins. For those fans it is time to gather together and let the situation run its course since Boston is really in a situation that says: “Pot, meet kettle.”