You may have seen Keith Olbermann tweet this picture of Brett Weber, who regularly charts velocity and pitch type from behind home plate for the Yankees, holding up four fingers towards the field during the season opener Thursday against the Tigers.
It seemed more weird than anything else at the time, but it turns out that MLB rules prohibit team employees from using hand signals to communicate pitch types or speeds to players. Who knew?
According to the Associated Press, Brian Cashman confirmed that Joe Garagiola Jr., the senior vice president of standards and on-field operations for MLB, spoke this morning with Yankees vice president and assistant general manager Jean Afterman about the issue. Cashman feels that he has a reasonable explanation for Weber’s actions.
“The scoreboard went down. He was relaying after the fact with his fingers to some hitters who wanted it what the velocity was, pitches to the opposing teams’ hitter, to the guy on deck,” Cashman said. “There’s nothing to hide. We’ve got nothing to hide.”
Furthermore, Cashman said that Weber wears headphones during home games so he can communicate with the scoreboard operator in order to relay pitch information that can be displayed in center field.
Oh, and if you’re calling the Yankees “cheaters,” Cashman has a message for you.
“It’s probably more work talking about than it’s worth,” Cashman said. “The psychotics that obsessed about it all day yesterday, I think we all did ’em a favor by keeping them off the street and preventing them from hurting others.”
For what it’s worth, Weber is not behind home plate for today’s game against the Tigers. That means they’ll have to find some other way to win. You know, like rely on the $200 million worth of talent they have on the field.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.
The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.
Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.
With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.
Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.
Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.
The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.