Report: Red Sox, Marlins talking about a trade involving Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez and Heath Bell

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UPDATE: Olney just killed everyone’s buzz. BUT I STILL BELIEVE, MAN!

2:01 PM: This sounds like a total hot mess of a trade rumor, but I freakling LOVE hot messes, so:

Nightengale has updated it with a longer story citing three sources. Wowzers. Where to begin.

On a dollars and cents scale, this would easily be one of the biggest trades in baseball history, as Crawford, Ramirez and Bell are owed nearly $240 million among them.  It would also involve a big problem (Bell stinks this year) a lesser, but more chronic problem (Ramirez’s increasingly erratic production and always interesting attitude) and an absolute sell-low guy (Crawford, who is TWO GAMES back from injuries and still near the beginning of a monster deal).

Given the ascension of Will Middlebrooks, this would certainly mean that Ramirez would be a shortstop again. Which would make his bat more valuable, but it’s a position one wonders how long he can handle. Crawford’s game may be better suited to Marlins Park, but again, why the Red Sox would give up on him now when his stock can only rise? It’s not like the Marlins are going to take that whole contract on, are they?

Such a trade would raise more questions than it would answer. I don’t get it, and I suspect that this is just one of those things people shoot the breeze about more than they seriously contemplate it.

But if it were to happen? Wow!

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.