Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

*Despite Scott Miller writing an article on October 2 noting that the Astros, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, and Diamondbacks were "especially adept" at stealing signs, despite the headline of the original article in The Athletic in which Mike Fiers blew the roof off the organization saying that sign-stealing was "part of a much broader issue" for MLB, despite the contents of the article indicating the 2017 Astro who was apparently at least partially responsible for coming up with the whole thing had
"(benefitted) from sign stealing with a previous team," despite a Cardinals beat writer saying that Houston, Milwaukee and Texas were "the most egregious" with sign stealing, Rob Manfred - as of now - has no reason to think the issue extends beyond Minute Maid Park. Manfred:
Right now, we are focused on the information we have with respect to the Astros. I am not going to speculate on whether other people are going to be involved. We will deal with that if it happens. I'm not speculating on that. I have no reason to believe it extends beyond the Astros at this point in time.

Oh boy. Manfred is hopeful that the investigation will wrap up by Spring Training, so only like three more months of this! And Gerrit Cole hasn't even signed with the Angels yet! This is truly the winter of our discontent. Manfred is getting ready to drop the hammer:
Any allegations that relate to a rule violation that could affect the outcome of a game or games is the most serious matter. It relates to the integrity of the sport. In terms of where we are, we have a very active, what is going to be a really, really thorough investigation. Beyond that, I can't tell you how close we are.

Manfred wouldn't discuss what discipline the Astros could be facing, but I can almost guarantee you that it's going to be severe enough to tell the other 29 teams to, well, not do this again:
I'm not going to speculate on what the appropriate discipline is. That depends on how the facts are established at the end of the investigation. The general warning I issued to the clubs, I stand by. It certainly could be all of those [past disciplinary actions], but my authority under the major-league constitution would be broader than those things as well.

It is absolutely in Rob Manfred/MLB's best interest for this entire investigation to be centered on the Astros and the Astros only, so that the untidiness of having to investigate multiple clubs (like, say, the ones mentioned up top) doesn't have to happen. It sucks, and it's absolutely bullcrap, but that's how it is right now.

To be fair, Ken Rosenthal wrote yesterday that Manfred's investigation should not stop with the Astros. Rosenthal:
The league realistically cannot uncover every sign-stealing infraction by every club, but the notion that the Astros were the sole offender is difficult to believe. It is possible the Astros were the most fragrant violators? Of course. But the risk in making an example of the Astros is that other franchises almost certainly stole signs illegally. Baseball potentially would face accusations of selective punishment.

Kenley Jansen doesn't think stealing signs cost the Dodgers the 2017 World Series, but he supports harsh penalties for cheating.

*Trigger Warning: Brian T. Smith writes about how the lovable Astros turned themselves into baseball's most loathed team.

*It was only three days ago that I wrote about the alleged Astros-led plan to contract 42 minor-league teams (I swear it feels like it was a month ago, but it's also crazy that Game 7 was three weeks ago today). Yesterday 105 members of Congress wrote a letter to MLB objecting, which theoretically could lead to a challenge of MLB's anti-trust exemption. Jeff Passan notes that 54 of those 105 members of Congress signed a spending bill that allowed MLB to not have to pay a minimum wage or overtime to minor-leaguers. MLB responded:
We have identified more than 40 Minor League stadiums that do not possess adequate training facilities, medical facilities, locker rooms, and, in some cases, playing fields, to satisfy the requirements of our Clubs and players.

Deputy commissioner of Baseball Dan Halem, who sounds like a particularly fresh-smelling piece of crap, responded, and had this nugget:
Less than 5% of the players selected after the 25th Round of the First-Year Player Draft reach the Major Leagues. Most of the players on the rosters of rookie, short-season, and low-A teams are there to fill the rosters so the Minor League teams can stage games for their fans, not because the Major League Clubs require all of those players to develop Major League talent.

I'm sure all of those guys whose dream it is to get drafted are happy to know that MLB sees them as trained monkeys, playing in an exhibition for the good people of Montana.

How many lawsuits could MLB face if they move forward with restructuring MiLB?

*Eve Rosenbaum - Houston's manager of international scouting who left the Astros this month - has been hired by Houston Baltimore's GM Mike Elias as director of baseball development.

*Is MLB ready for robot-umps and the automated strike zone?

*ESPN: How one exec stole tens of millions of dollars from the Sacramento Kings.

*My favorite soccer team, Leeds United (to which there are a striking number of similarities to the Astros, but that's another story for another time) is in the process of getting sold to a Qatari group that owns Paris-St. Germain.

*A Musical Selection: