Red Sox News: J.D. Martinez frustrated with MLB’s punishment for 2018
Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez was one of the first to speak out against the MLB’s investigation into 2018 and he’s frustrated with the outcome.
It’s been a few weeks since MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred released his report on the alleged sign-stealing scandal of the 2018 Red Sox. To give a quick summary of the investigation, the league didn’t really find anything but punished Boston anyways. After all, Manfred has looked pretty awful this offseason so he couldn’t walk away from this mess without some sort of trophy.
One man that was quick to speak out against the league’s investigation was Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez. Boston’s DH didn’t waste any time letting Manfred know that he wouldn’t find anything and he wasn’t wrong. After all, who would know better about what may have been going on than one of the best hitters in the game? We haven’t heard much from the players since the results were released but that changed recently.
Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe connected with Martinez recently and the pair discussed the investigation as well as what J.D. expects from the 2020 season. Boston’s power hitter didn’t hold back any punches when sharing his thoughts on the punishment levied down from Manfred.
"“If they went to court with that, it would get thrown out. There was nothing there,” Martinez told the Globe on Wednesday. “The judge would laugh.”"
Just to refresh everyone on what the Red Sox are dealing with thanks to the allegations about 2018, they lost a second-round draft pick, and replay technician J. T. Watkins is also suspended for 2020. Alex Cora will also be suspended through the 2020 playoffs but that is for his involvement in the Astros scandal. The final part of the sentencing served by Judge Rob is easily the most egregious of the bunch.
Yes, losing the pick is going to hurt in the long term, especially in a year where the draft will be significantly shorter, but Watkins is the biggest victim here. Cora was already going to be out for this season thanks to that Astros mess, so he isn’t feeling any extra heat. Watkins, on the other hand, was just doing his job.
The league’s report plays it up as if Watkins were some evil genius that could decode signs in real-time to the baserunners. But when you get down to brass tax, all he was doing was giving updates to his already existing report based on what he was seeing during the game. He wasn’t creating new reports or analyzing tape during the game as his job wouldn’t give him that freedom.
Watkins has to be ready at all times in case the Red Sox need a play review via replay, he doesn’t have the time to steal signs via the tape. Former Boston infielder Lou Merloni went in-depth on the subject while he was a guest on Barstool Sports’ “Section 10 Podcast.”
Merloni explained what Watkins’ job responsibilities were and what he would actually be capable of doing. To summarize, it’s nothing that the MLB said he did or was capable of doing.
When Abraham brought up the punishment that was given to Watkins, Martinez didn’t hold back his feelings and I don’t blame him.
"“That pissed me off. It wasn’t right,” Martinez said. “They just ruined this guy’s career with no evidence.”"
I’m sure some out there may say that J.D. is ramping up the dramatics but he’s 100% spot on with his thoughts. Part of Watkins’ punishment is that he can never hold that job in the MLB ever again. Luckily, the Red Sox have said that they will be keeping him on the staff but in a new position once his suspension is up ahead of the 2021 season.
Even though he’ll still be employed, Watkins will have to carry the Scarlet Letter around on his lapel for the rest of his career. J.D. gave an interesting tidbit that I think many of us have also though. He feels that the league came down so strongly with such little evidence because this is Boston’s second cheating scandal in as many years.
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"“They had to do something,” he said. “They really didn’t find anything.”"
Under John Farrell, the team was busted using Apple Watches as sign-stealing vessels. All it took was a whisper and a report for the league to come after the Red Sox. This was a way for the MLB to essentially punish them for two scandals for the price of one. Add that to the way the league mishandled the Houston debacle earlier in the winter, and Boston had a massive target on its back.
J.D. Martinez has been a key figure in the Red Sox lineup since his arrival ahead of that 2018 season. Not only was he an offensive powerhouse during Boston’s surge to the Commissioner’s Trophy, but he was a locker-room leader. J.D. has the type of personality that draws people in and can brighten the room.
With everything that he’s contributed to the Red Sox since joining the squad, I hope he and Chaim Bloom can find a way to re-structure his deal. The slugger has the ability to opt-out of his contract following the next two seasons. He’s expressed not only his love for the organization and city but his desire to stay if the terms are right, and they need to be. If Boston wants to get back on the right side of winning, then they’ll need his bat in the lineup for the long-haul.