Around the league
Yesterday’s big news was MLB’s announcement that they had concluded their investigation into the Astro’s electronically enhanced sign stealing operation from 2017. They also announced penalties to key personnel — GM Luhnow and Manager Hinch most notably. The team will also lose 2020 and 2021 draft picks.
There is still another shoe waiting to drop here. The league is also investigating the Red Sox, who are similarly accused of using video to observe opponents’ signs. Their team is likely to face penalties as well.
Red Sox Manager Alex Cora, who was also named for his role in the Astros scandal, is likely to receive significant punishment.
Carlos Beltran, at the time a veteran player on the team, was mentioned in the report as an architect of the scheme. Although Manfred made the decision not to penalize players, it will be interesting to see whether the Mets, who have just hired Beltran as their manager, take any action. Note this interesting comment from the New York Post’s Joel Sherman:
Beltran told me in Nov what he did was legal, pre-game study and in-game observation. But he told investigators something quite different from that because only way a player was getting suspended was if they lied in the investigation. #Mets #astros— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 13, 2020
Here are some reactions to the announcement.
ESPN has a good explainer on all things Houston sign-stealing, from the accusations to the punishments.
Ken Rosenthal and Evan Dreilich, whose research helped break this story and led to this investigation, call the penalties “unprecedented” ($).
Neil Solondz has some interesting thoughts about the implications of Astros suspensions/firings. Should they be forced to hire from within the organization?
The point I'm trying to make is ostensibly Houston can now hire a manager and GM from outside, in essence taking away an important employee from a team right before Spring Training starts.— Neil Solondz (@neilsolondz) January 13, 2020
Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs and T.J. Quinn of ESPN have talked to GMs who think the punishment was not severe enough, since the Astros still got a championship out of this. It seems to me, though, that a manager would be more likely to crack down on this behavior if he knows he could lose his job.
If MLB wanted to make sure this never happened again, they had to do more. Every owner would trade this for the title and money Houston made the last few years. It’s not even close. I bet some owners would take it for 2-3 good playoff runs. https://t.co/Y0Mxw98RfD— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) January 13, 2020
Writing for the Tampa Bay Times, John Romano also thinks that both the players and the team ownership should have been punished (or punished more severely). He also takes a look at a 2017 Carlos Beltran at bat against the Rays where there is evidence of the garbage can-banging plot. ($)
Some current and former players have weighed in as well.
Trevor Bauer has opinions:
Phil Hughes wants some at bats back. This whole thread is pretty funny (minus the obnoxious Twins fan), especially when Lenny Dykstra (!) decides to weigh in:
I’d like my career numbers against Altuve, Springer, and Correa erased from the record books. Seriously though, it’s bad. Can they do that?— Phil Hughes (@PJHughes45) January 13, 2020
In other news, the Rays signed a few minor league contracts with spring training invites:
#Rays have come to terms on minor league deals with invite to big league camp with: catchers Chris Herrmann, Kevan Smith, outfielder Ryan LaMarre and pitchers Aaron Slegers, D.J. Snelten.— Juan Toribio (@juanctoribio) January 13, 2020
And the Kiermaier family is psyched for 2020:
I was fortunate to speak with Karter Kiermaier and he shared his thoughts on what the upcoming year of 2020 will bring for him. Really talented player but even better person. Very well spoken young man. pic.twitter.com/gg1jTWGoGc— Kevin Kiermaier (@KKiermaier39) January 13, 2020
The future of the Tropicana Field site is uncertain, but we can still learn a lot about its past. Local architect Sarah Jane Vatelot has published a book about the area’s history pre-baseball called Where Have All the Mangoes Gone? We’ve missed the book launch event, but those interested in local history can purchase the book here.