Jason Bay: the next Bobby Bonilla?

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That’s what the New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro calls Jason Bay as he warns the Mets away from taking the plunge into what he calls the second tier of the free agent market:

And that brings me around to this point: How many times do you need to
have anvils fall on your head before you take a step out of the way?
Which is to say, how many times do you have to sign Kevin Appier and
Bobby Bonilla before you recognize the difference between attracting
the cream of a good free-agent class (see Sabathia, CC, and Teixeira, Mark) and the prettiest homecoming queens of Homely High? And that’s what the Mets would be doing here.

Vaccaro is not the arbiter of all that is wise, but I am unaware of a single pundit or fan who has come out in favor of the Mets signing Bay to the five-year deal he wants.  And they may still not do it. John Harper of the Daily News notes this morning that the Mets are trying to hold the line at four years and not bid against themselves.

Of course it is Omar Minaya we’re talking about, and he doesn’t do a lot to instill confidence. To that end Harper has the line of the day, saying that the Mets have “apparently determined not to be bluffed into overpaying any more than necessary for the free-agent left fielder.”

Read that quote again if the humor of it escaped you the first time.

MLB to crack down on sign stealing

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We’ve had a couple of notable incidents of sign stealing in Major League Baseball over the past couple of years. Most famously, the Red Sox were found to be using Apple Watches of all things to relay signs spied via video feed. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that there have been other less-publicized and unpublicized incidents as well, mostly with in-house TV cameras — as opposed to network TV cameras — stationed in the outfield and trained on catchers, for the specific purpose of stealing signs.

As such, SI reports, Major League Baseball is cracking down beginning this year. Within the next couple weeks an already-drafted and circulated rule will take effect which will (a) ban in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole; (b) will limit live broadcasts available to teams to the team’s replay official only, and the replay official will be watched by a league official to keep them from relaying signs to the team; and (c) other TV monitors that are available to the clubs will be on an eight-second delay to prevent real-time sign stealing. There will likewise be limits on TV monitors showing the game feed in certain places like tunnels and clubhouses.

Penalties for violation of the rules will include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money. General managers will have to sign a document in which they swear they know of know sign-stealing schemes.

As was the case when the Apple Watch incident came up, there will not be any new rules regarding old fashioned sign stealing by runners on second base or what have you, as that is viewed as part of the game. Only the technology-aided sign stealing that has become more prominent in recent years — but which has, of course, existed in other forms for a very, very long time — is subject to the crackdown.

While gamesmanship of one form or another has always been part of baseball, the current wave of sign-stealing is seen as a pace-of-play issue just as much as a fairness issue. Because of the actual sign-stealing — and because of paranoia that any opponent could be stealing signs — clubs have gone to far more elaborate and constantly changing sign protocols. This requires mound meetings and pitchers coming off the rubber in order to re-start the increasingly complex series of signs from dugout to catcher and from catcher to pitcher.

Now, presumably, with these new rules coming online, teams will figure out a new way to cheat. It’s baseball, after all. It’s in their DNA.