Jeff Francoeur explains why he gave Charlie Samuels $50,000

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As reported this morning, former Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels was arrested today, accused of gambling with mobbed-up bookies, stealing Mets’ equipment and memorabilia and committing fraud.  You know, typical New York stuff.

You may recall that last fall when this all hit the news Jeff Francoeur’s name popped up by virtue of him writing $50,000 in checks to Samuels. No one ever suggested that Francoeur did anything wrong — and really, how could they? Look at that face! — but it did raise eyebrows.

Francoeur is in New York today facing the Yankees, and explained it to Roger Rubin of the Daily News.

For starters, $15,000 of that was the end-of-year bonus given by Francoeur to Samuels, and intended to be distributed to the various cooks, massage therapists, clubhouse attendants and the like.  Which, while that seems like a lot, is a standard kind of thing. At least in form. I really don’t know if that’s a lot of money for end of year tips, but I bet it’s within the normal range for veterans.

As for the other $35,000, well, we’ll let Francoeur explain it:

“I wrote him a $35,000 check and he gave me cash for it and I bought a car for my mom and dad. And that’s what it was all about. That’s the whole thing,” Francoeur said. “My parents help pay our bills and stuff while we’re away during the season. I didn’t want them to see what I paid for the car … I wrote him a $35,000 check and he gave me cash for it and I bought a car for my mom and dad. And that’s what it was all about. That’s the whole thing,” Francoeur said. “My parents help pay our bills and stuff while we’re away during the season. I didn’t want them to see what I paid for the car.

That explains it all. Maybe someday they’ll get banks in New York City. But until that day, clubhouse managers who make $80K a year and who happen to have $35K in cash laying around are really the only option available for guys who want to by their parents a car.

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.