The White Sox are in a bit of a transitional period. And a lot of people assumed that the Cubs would try to make a play for Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols or something like that. Maybe it’s more likely that both teams will simply be sellers. Here’s Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune:
According to sources, both the White Sox and Cubs are getting a lot of calls about their proven relievers, including closers Sergio Santos and Carlos Marmol. Seven teams are trying to fill a void at closer, and five of those (Red Sox, Blue Jays,Twins, Reds and Mets) are also looking for set-up men. While it would be painful to trade arms like Santos and Marmol, they could bring back multiple parts in trades. They are signed to contracts that could make them bargains.
Marmol had some meltdowns last year, but he’s still an excellent option for someone in the market. Santos, the converted infielder, saved 30 games last year and is uber-cheap.
Meanwhile, the Phillies paid $50 million+ for Jonathan Papelbon. Yeah, he’s better, but it’s not like he’s some piece of unobtainium.
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.