Report: Carlos Beltran ‘steamrolled’ Astros players who criticized sign-stealing scheme
Carlos Beltran has been painted as one of the masterminds behind the sign-stealing scheme the Houston Astros deployed during the 2017 season, and new details have emerged over just how much the system was down to him — and how much control he exerted over players who weren’t comfortable with it.
According to Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic, Beltran and then-bench coach Alex Cora were the two masterminds who saw what the Astros were doing with their “Codebreaker” program but found it too inefficient during games.
“What happened was Cora and Beltrán decided that this video room stuff (Astros executive Tom) Koch-Weser was doing was just not working, inefficient, too slow,” one person with direct knowledge of the investigation said. “They just had some lower-level guy put up this monitor and did it themselves.”
Beltran, then 40, was in the final year of a Hall of Fame-worthy career, and commanded immense respect in the Houston clubhouse. MLB clubhouse dynamics dictate that veterans are to receive deferential treatment from younger players, and when Beltran instituted the trash can system, any younger players who felt uncomfortable with it felt they did not have the right to speak up. Even A.J. Hinch, the team’s manager, felt that overruling Beltran would hurt his credibility with the clubhouse.
Two members of the 2017 team said that another veteran, Brian McCann, expressed misgivings about the system and at one point asked Beltran to stop. One 2017 Astro said that McCann, like the rest of the team, was simply overruled.
“He disregarded it and steamrolled everybody,” the team member said. “Where do you go if you’re a young, impressionable player with the Astros and this guy says, ‘We’re doing this’? What do you do?”
To be clear, many Astros did not appear to have any issue with the system, and another member of the team does not remember anyone appealing for it to stop. A few members of the team clearly did feel uncomfortable, though, but felt they could not overrule Beltran.
Beltran appeared proud of the scheme as well. He moved to the New York Yankees as a special advisor in 2018 after his retirement and apparently told some low-level employees about what the Astros had been up to. He also told various members of the organization that the Astros hadn’t done anything that others weren’t doing.
Beltran was hired as the manager of the New York Mets during the offseason, but stepped down before managing a single game after the details of his role in the scandal came out. Originally, Beltran claimed he and his teammates had done nothing illegal, but that defense did not hold up at all.