MLBits: Are the Dodgers Stealing Signs, Too? Cardinals Spending, Ankiel's Return, More

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MLBits: Are the Dodgers Stealing Signs, Too? Cardinals Spending, Ankiel’s Return, More

MLB News and Rumors

My wife and I bought our first place back in May, and, on the whole, it’s great. The location is swell, it’s modern, spacious enough for us and our dog, and plenty comfortable. But holy crap do random things need fixing all the time.

I’m a novice handyman – at best – and I’ve been tested big time these first few months. And unfortunately, I’m batting like .300 … which is really only good in baseball. So, yeah.

  • If you haven’t been following the Houston Astros sign-stealing, undercover employee scandal – you know, the one where MLB was all like “NOPE! Nothing to see here!” for some reason – you’re missing out. What appeared to be over may just be getting started, as one anonymous MLB executive suggested to Scott Miller that “this is just the tip of the iceberg” with the Astros, before adding in what I imagine as a whisper from the shadows, “they’ve been doing it for years.” And apparently, this executive doesn’t just mean stealing signs – which, as I’ve said before and still believe, is a acceptable part of the game, when done exclusively by players on the field and without any technology. Instead, he means they’ve been actively scouting locations to film in various ballparks. Read the report for more on just how much chatter there is about what the Astros have been doing.
  • I don’t want to go on some altruistic crusade or anything, but, like, doesn’t this just piss you off? When an individual takes steroids, it stinks and is unfair, but is ultimately – at least, nowadays – one person making a choice. When an entire organization sends people to scout locations to film into opposing dugouts, it’s like what are we even doing here? You’re really willing to completely corrupt the integrity of your entire organization and, effectively, the sport itself (especially when you’re already one of the best teams out there)? It sucks.
  • And to the doing it the right way idea, there’s this: the Brewers think the Dodgers were stealing signs when Manny Machado was on second base and Chris Taylor was at the plate. To be fair, Zach Davies agrees with my general sentiment: “You’ve seen a couple times where something looks a little bit off,” Davies said. “That’s something that’s part of the game. When you start using technology and when you start using guys outside of the baseball team to try to figure out what set of signs a pitcher is using, that’s a little … that kind of crosses the line.” Nonetheless, multiple sources have shared concerns with The Athletic that the Dodgers are using video to pick up on their signs, and, again, that’s where it crosses the line for me. I really hope MLB looks into this during the offseason, but they may have already missed their shot (Astros) to make an example out of a team caught not once but TWICE and during the dang playoffs.
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
  • Bonus Astros chicanery in the Scott Miller report: “There have also been whispers throughout the industry that the Astros are not calibrating their TrackMan (a ball-tracking data system) properly throughout their organization, particularly at the minor league levels, which according to another industry source, can make it appear as if a particular pitcher’s spin rate is too high or too low.” Although you could use the spin rates for guys on the road to test whether the Astros were screwing around at Minute Maid Park, you couldn’t check in the minor leagues, where – again, per these whispers – the Astros could be making their prospects look much more spin-rate-y than they actually are. You trade for them, and then you’re stuck.
  • The Boston Red Sox drew a 26.2 household TV rating in Boston during their clinching win over the Astros on Thursday, which is their best rating since 2013, and TBS’ best for any MLB game in a local market for an entire decade. If the Dodgers beat the Brewers tonight, the World Series is gonna do HUGE ratings.
  • After missing the playoffs for a third consecutive season (and after ridiculed comments to the contrary), the St. Louis Cardinals are apparently reevaluating their position against handing out massive contracts to free agents: “We understand that there is opportunity in this market, and we have to be open-minded to see where that takes us,” President John Mozeliak said. “We have a collection of really good players, but you’ve got to find a way to improve upon that. … And maybe the way to answer your question is we may have to take some risk.” Specifically, the thinking goes, that splurge would be spent on an impact bat, of which there are many in this free agent class.
  • Pitcher turned hitter turned pitcher Rick Ankiel is legitimately trying to make a comeback at age 39, and it sounds like the Cardinals might take him up on that. “I understand his sincerity and seriousness of this,” Mozeliak said. “It is something that he’s going to put 100 percent effort in, and I think he’s very much committed to trying.” That’ll be fun to watch, even if it’s with the Cardinals.
  • At, Jordan Bastian answers questions about the Indians, specifically about whether Danny Salazar could back-fill the back of the Cleveland bullpen when Cody Allen and Andrew Miller both depart for free agency this winter. Salazar, you’ll recall, underwent “an arthroscopic debridement and bursectomy on his right shoulder on July 2,” and, barring any speed bumps, could be throwing again by November. To the extent you’re interested in Allen or Miller for the Cubs, note that Bastian doesn’t believe either guy will be back with the Indians, and thinks there’s a chance neither gets the qualifying offer after disappointing seasons. [Brett: Thanks to injuries, Miller, who turns 34 next year, had his worst season since 2011. Bad timing heading into free agency, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cubs interested. They have had interest before, both as a free agent and as a trade target.]
  • Charlie Morton, 34, had an excellent season with the Astros this year (3.13 ERA, 3.59 FIP; 3.1 WAR in 167.0 IP), but was contemplating retirement anyway. But more recently, it sounds like he’d be willing to keep going, especially if it were with the Astros. “I’d love to keep playing,” Morton said after last night’s game. “I’d love to be an Astro. I’d love to be a part of this again. Ultimately, it’s not really up to me. It’s not solely up to me.” He’s expected to receive the qualifying offer, for what it’s worth.
  • A 37-year-old Brandon Phillips was not on the Red Sox ALDS or ALCS roster and only played nine games for them during the regular season, but he may soon receive his first World Series ring, which is kinda funny.
  • I still hate Derek Jeter right now: