UPDATE: Vlad Guerrero may not be in the Angels’ future after all

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UPDATE: Mark Saxson of ESPN Los Angels says that Vlad is not part of the Angels’ Plan B.

That’s the speculation from the Los Angeles Times’ Mike DiGiovanna:

Adrian Beltre, according to numerous media reports, is closing in on a deal with the Texas Rangers, a move that would be a considerable blow to the Angels’ playoff hopes and would greatly increase the chances of slugger Vladimir Guerrero returning to Anaheim.

While the 2010 line looked nice, Vlad had a pretty poor second half and a simply dreadful postseason for the Rangers last year. An extra year on the odometer and moving out of the friendly confines of the Ballpark at Arlington aren’t likely to help him either. And of course, bringing in Guerrero also means leaving Bobby Abreu in the field full-time, when there was a lot of talk about making him the DH in 2011.  All in all bringing back Vlad would be a meh-at-best move for Anaheim. He doesn’t really help much even if everything breaks perfectly. And if it doesn’t break perfectly, it’s potentially harmful.

But my favorite part of all of this is the following line — delivered tongue in cheek, I hope — in DiGiovanna’s article:

But the Angels pulled their offer to Beltre before Christmas, and owner Arte Moreno made it clear at the time that the team would not increase what it felt was a very competitive offer. Beltre’s deal with the Rangers will reportedly be for five or six years and between $90 million and $100 million.

Loosely translated, the second sentence in that passage means “that word ‘competitive’ you just used; I do not think it means what you think it means.”

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.