Good morning, Birdland!
When it rains it pours for the Houston Astros. The team is coming off of a World Series defeat during which they fired their assistant GM following a public relations disaster that included the team defending sexist actions and calling a journalist a liar. The Astros later walked back some of their behavior, but the damage had been done.
Now it is being reported that the Astros have been cheating and stealing opposing teams signs since at least 2017. The story isn’t ambiguous either. It quotes Mike Fiers, a former Astros pitcher, and spells out exactly what they were doing. It wasn’t gamesmanship or some other gray area. The Astros were piping a video feed of the game into the dugout and then relaying what type of pitch was coming through a series of noises from the dugout.
Yankees podcaster Jomboy broke it down, as he is known to do, in a really good video on his Twtter (@Jomboy_):
Astros using cameras to steal signs, a breakdown pic.twitter.com/rncm6qzXxw— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) November 12, 2019
That is pretty blatant. They have no runners on base, and the noises are coming so quickly after the signs are put down that the only explanation is exactly what is laid out in the story. That sucks, and it will be interesting to see what MLB sees as fair punishment.
Now, why does this matter for an Orioles blog? Well, the team’s current GM Mike Elias was a prominent member of the Astros front office with this stuff was going on. We need some answers on what his role was in all of this and how much he knew. He could be subject to some sort of penalty as a result. But more importantly, this is just a crappy thing for a team to do, and it’s not something I would want to see the Orioles implementing.
The Astros were so impressive because they had found that “inefficiency in the market” that everyone talks about. They had done a stem to stern rebuild and it worked, and they still have one of the most talented rosters in the league as a result. It’s unlikely that the cheating laid out in this article is what allowed them to be so good, but it does leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Elias is not guilty by association here. It’s possible that this was another Jeff Luhnow suggestion that others wanted nothing to do with. But Elias should be asked about it the next time he is made available to the media.
Links & Notes
Baltimore Orioles’ 2020 Preseason Top 50 Prospects - Pitcher List
Can you ever read “too many” prospect lists? I argue that you cannot. So here is another place you can get all excited about the idea of Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez and D.L. Hall slipping on an Orioles jersey one day.
Orioles Nearing Deal To Allow Aaron Brooks To Sign With KBO Club - MLB Trade Rumors
This is actually pretty surprising. Aaron Brooks was likely to get a good chance at making the Orioles Opening Day roster out of spring training. Of course, it was unclear how long he would stick around after that, but a chance at the big leagues doesn’t come around too often. Instead, he will head to Korea for what is probably a bigger pay day.
Making a few assumptions with Orioles - School of Roch
These are the opposite of “hot takes.” Instead, Roch sets some very tempered expectations for a few young Orioles. Perhaps the most interesting is that both Dillon Tate and Hunter Harvey will remain in the bullpen. This is where each of them has seen their “stuff” play up, so it makes sense. But there remains hope for some that they can maximize their value as starters.
With GM meetings underway, Jonathan Villar trade talk could heat up - Steve Melewski
It’s fine if the Orioles trade Jonathan Villar this offseason, but they don’t need to rush it and get nothing in return. There are no young middle infielders near major league ready in the O’s system. Villar is a fine placeholder if need be. And it’s possible that the team could get better offers into the summer once another club becomes desperate.
Orioles birthdays and history
Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!
Wade Miley, the walk-prone left-handed pitcher, turns 33 today. The southpaw spent 2016 and ‘17 with the O’s, posting a 5.75 ERA to go along with 108 walks in 211.1 innings of work.
Josh Bell, a third baseman who the Orioles acquired in a trade with the Dodgers that sent George Sherill to Los Angeles, is also 33. Bell was a decent prospect when the deal was made, but he would go on to hit just .200/.221/.264 in 79 games with the Orioles and is perhaps better known for putting sleeves on every time he ran the bases in order to protect his am tattoos.
The final birthday shoutout goes to Pat Hentgen, the right-handed pitcher who spent 14 seasons in the big leagues. Hentgen pitched in 41 games for the O’s spread across three seasons (2001 - 2003). He turns 51 today.
Apart from birthdays November 13th is a quiet day in Orioles history, according to Baseball Reference. Here are some things that have happened away from Birdland on this date.
1940 - Fantasia, Walt Disney’s animated musical starring Mickey Mouse, is released.
1985 - Miami’s first Cuban-born mayor, Xavier Suarez, is sworn into office.
1994 - Voters in Sweden pass a referendum to join the European Union.