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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Baseball

Gabe Kapler hired by Giants to be team’s next manager

Gabe Kapler

The San Francisco Giants were down to some finalists in their search for a new manager and have decided on Gabe Kapler.

The Giants were looking for a replacement for Bruce Bochy, who announced he would retire after the 2019 season (though he still may want to manage in the future). They were down to Joe Espada, Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro, and Kapler in their search, and decided on Kapler.

Kapler, who worked in the Dodgers’ front office at the same time as Farhan Zaidi, was said to be Zaidi’s choice all along.

Here is Zaidi’s statement on hiring Kapler:

Kapler played 12 seasons in the bigs and managed the Phillies the last two seasons. He was fired after going 161-163 in his two seasons.

Carlos Beltran says Astros stole signs in 2017, but only from second base

One member of the Houston Astros’ 2017 championship team is responding to the allegations that the team illegally stole signs that year.

On Tuesday, New York mets manager Carlos Beltran reacted to the claims made by ex-Houston teammate Mike Fiers, among other unnamed players on that team, that a video camera in the Minute Maid Park outfield was used by the Astros as part of an illegal sign-stealing operation that year.

“I’m not aware of that camera,” he said, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. “We were studying the opposite team every day … “We took a lot of pride studying pitchers [on] the computer. That is the only technology that I use and understand. It was fun seeing guys get to the ballpark to look for little details.”

The former nine-time All-Star also acknowledged that the Astros did indeed steal signs but only from second base.

“The game of baseball for years, guys have given location and if the catchers get lazy and the pitcher doesn’t cover the signs from second base [then] of course players are going to take advantage,” he added. “I don’t call that cheating. I call that using small details to take advantage. I think baseball is doing a great job adding new technology to make sure the game is even for both teams. It’s easy to blame someone when they win.”

Beltran, who was hired by the Mets earlier this month, was only with the Astros for that 2017 season, not counting his prior stint with them back in 2004. The team won the World Series that year, defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games, and marking Beltran’s only career championship.

Houston has already launched an investigation into the allegations, and we may be hearing from several other members of that 2017 team before long.

Astros launch investigation into sign-stealing allegations

The Houston Astros are moving quickly to address a major story Tuesday alleging an electronic sign-stealing operation in the 2017 season.

In a statement, the Astros announced that they were launching an investigation in conjunction with Major League Baseball into allegations that they used a camera in center field and a tunnel monitor to steal the signs of opposing pitchers.

Notably, there is no denial here. Perhaps the Astros have learned a lesson from the disastrous PR fallout of their initial statement defending former executive Brandon Taubman.

There’s certainly a lot of intrigue here, and a lack of clarity where this leads. The Red Sox were fined for using an Apple Watch to steal signs in 2017, but that was not as elaborate and also discovered immediately. It will be interesting to see if the Astros may face some sort of retroactive punishment, and how harsh it would be.

Video appears to show Astros stealing signs against Danny Farquhar

AJ Hinch

A bombshell report that was published on Tuesday took the sign-stealing allegations against the Houston Astros to the next level, and there is video evidence that supports at least one of the claims in the story.

Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich were told by several former members of the Astros organization that the team stole signs electronically during its World Series season in 2017. The system involved a video camera positioned in center field at Minute Maid Park that would feed to a video screen near the home dugout, and players would relay pitch types to hitters by banging on a trash can before an off-speed or breaking pitch was thrown. Former Chicago White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar said he experienced it first-hand during an appearance in Houston in 2017, and footage from the game supports that.

In the video below from Houston’s game against the White Sox on Sept. 22, 2017, you can clearly hear a loud banging noise before Farquhar steps off the mound to have a discussion with his catcher.

Based on what was described in The Athletic’s story, that will be tough for the Astros to defend.

The Astros were accused of stealing signs this postseason and last, but Major League Baseball now has first-hand accounts to investigate. Members of the organization have all described an electronic system the Astros were using to steal signs during their World Series season, and we now have video evidence to corroborate those claims. Disciplinary action could finally on the horizon.

Ex-Astros say team electronically stole signs during 2017 season

Minute Maid Park Houston

The Houston Astros have been accused of employing sign-stealing tactics for several seasons now, a some former members of the organization have confirmed that the team engaged in such practices during the year in which they won the World Series.

Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic spoke with four people who were with the Astros in 2017, including starting pitcher Mike Fiers. The sources claim the Astros used a video camera positioned in the outfield at Minute Maid Park and a video screen in the home dugout to decode signs that were being used by the opposing team’s catcher.

While the Astros have denied the numerous sign-stealing allegations against them, the former members of their World Series team described the practice they used that season in detail. According to the report, a feed from the camera in the outfield was linked to a television that was positioned on a wall in the tunnel that runs between the home dugout and the clubhouse at Minute Maid Park. Team employees and players would watch the monitor from massage tables across a wide hallway to see if they could decode their opponent’s signals, and the expected pitch would be relayed using a loud noise if they became confident they had stolen the signs. To do this, a player or staffer would bang on a trash can before a breaking ball or off-speed pitch was supposed to come.

Two of The Athletic’s sources said the Astros stopped using the tactics prior to the postseason in 2017, while another claimed he could vividly recall hearing the sound of a banging trash can before a Houston home run during the playoffs. The same source doubted whether players were able to hear the noise due to the loud environment inside the ballpark.

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Report: Blue Jays could be open to trading Lourdes Gurriel Jr

Lourdes Gurriel

Lourdes Gurriel Jr looked like a core building block for the Toronto Blue Jays last season, but this winter just might prove otherwise.

Scott Mitchell of TSN Sports reported Monday that the Jays could be open to moving the 26-year-old slugger, especially if it yields the right rotation arm.

Gurriel had a strong year in 2019, hitting .277 with 20 home runs and 50 RBIs in just 84 games. He is on an extremely team-friendly deal, under contract through 2023 and owed less than $18 million total over that span.

Granted, Toronto has enough young offensive firepower (Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, etc.) that Gurriel may actually be expendable. They also had one of the worst rotations in the league last season and recently traded away their best pitcher.

Report: Zack Wheeler has interest from three teams

The New York Mets look poised to lose starting pitcher Zack Wheeler in free agency.

According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, Wheeler is likely to reject the Mets’ $17.8 million qualifying offer amid free agent interest elsewhere. Wheeler has preliminary interest from the Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox, and San Diego Padres.

There is some belief that Wheeler could become the consensus third-best starter on the market behind Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, and he could be a backup choice for teams who fail to land either of them. That’s down to Wheeler’s relative youth — he doesn’t turn 30 until next May — and his success when healthy. He posted a 3.96 ERA last year.

In addition to the aforementioned teams, there’s an NL East team that reportedly has its eyes on Wheeler. He looks like he’ll be an in-demand starter.