*Just about the only Astros news of the day was another report from The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich (again, get used to this) in which the headline reads: Astros executive asked scouts for help stealing signs and suggested using cameras, email shows.
That's a damning headline! I wonder what the article says!
Well, the email is from August 2017. The sender and recipients are unidentified. The email:
One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout. What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can (or can't) do and report back your findings.
Well that doesn't seem as bad, if you're willing to read past the headline. The unnamed executive sent an email asking if they could pick up signs coming out of the dugout whether through cameras (not okay) or binoculars (Extreme Grey Area). The "see what you can (or can't) do" portion is the kicker for me. Obviously I'm on record as being Against Cheating. But if you're wondering how to pick up signs and the sender says "see what you can (or can't) do" that's hardly a directive to commit Baseball Fraud.
Scouts discussed sign stealing with the executive outside of email as well, on phone calls and in a group Slack channel. Multiple Astros scouts said they were appalled by the possibility they would be asked to use a camera - and said that some scouts indeed voiced as much to management...
..."Nobody wanted to do that, and take a chance of getting caught and ruining their reputation, not only as a scout but then ever further damage what the Astros had going," one person directly involved in the conversations said...
...A longtime scout outside of the Astros organization said that, across the sport, asking advance scouts to attempt to track signs is not uncommon. A general manager confirmed the same. But the potential use of a camera stood out to both.
Keith Law tweeted that the email was "a third-rate burglary attempt."
ESPN's Jeff Passan has the story, as well, if you want the unpaywalled version. He notes that the email was sent by Kevin Goldstein, special assistant to GM Jeff Luhnow. Passan:
The 2017 plans relayed by Goldstein involved a pro scouting department that has since been gutted, with the Astros' analytics-scouting balance since then tilting to the side of analytics "99 to 1," according to a person familiar with the team's resources. Much of the Astros' scouting work today, sources said, involves cameras and video.
The New York Post's Ken Davidoff looks for comparisons to the Patriots and their many scandals as Rob Manfred figures out what to do with the Astros. Davidoff:
Most obviously, Houston's manager A.J. Hinch and president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow should be suspended for lengthy periods - half a season, at least - if a preponderance of evidence suggests that they knew what was going down.
SNY's Andy Martino: What MLB needs to learn, and how it could still get Carlos Beltran suspended.
I guess the point of articles like this is to further build the case against the Astros and the front office regarding a "culture" of cheating. It's going to be a long offseason.
*ESPN has an AL West Offseason Preview for your pleasure. Houston's offseason preview focuses on payroll, which is projected to be almost $229m - or about $21m over the luxury tax - for 2020, and that's before you get into Gerrit Cole discussions.
*Restaurant/Food Critic Adam Platt wrote about what it's like to be targeted by a chef.
*Barry Petchesky wrote in the NY Times about not sticking to sports.
*A Musical Selection: