Tejada stealing signs? Astros are outraged

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tejada_cruz_090914.jpgA couple of weeks ago, the New York Times brought to light a story about the 2001 Oakland A’s, and how some of the players were concerned that their star shortstop Miguel Tejada was tipping pitches to friends on opposing teams.

Tejada denied the accusations, his teammates ended up backing him up, and nothing came of it.

Now, come some new barbs thrown Tejada’s way, courtesy of Pittsburgh Pirates closer Matt Capps, who claims Tejada was working in concert with Houston Astros first base coach Jose Cruz to steal signs.

“Just compete,” Capps told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after the game. “You don’t need to do any of that stuff. Those two have a thing going out there. I’m set, and he’s not even looking at me. That tells me all I need to know.”

Tejada called the accusations “ridiculous” and “unbelievable,” and backed up Cruz as well, saying “If he wants to disrespect me, that’s fine. He shouldn’t disrespect any coach.” Cruz went so far as to tell the Houston Chronicle that he was offended:

“Never ever in 13 years that I’ve been here (coaching) and 30 years I’ve been in baseball,” Cruz said. “Shoot. So … yeah, I’m offended. I don’t know how he got the idea that I gave a sign to Tejada.”

First of all, I think the Astros are a little too outraged over this. Sign-stealing is a part of baseball. Everyone does it. Just don’t get caught. Now maybe Tejada and Cruz weren’t in cahoots on that particular play, but spare us the outrage OK?

(In fact, our own Bert Blyleven breaks down the dos and don’ts of stealing signs right here.)

That being said, Capps needs to cut the crybaby act. I’m sure his Pirates teammates steal signs as well – or at least attempt to do it. If you think you caught the other team red-handed, plant your next pitch in the hitter’s ribs. That will get your message across.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.