At the moment, Ryan Dempster stands a much better opportunity to help the Braves catch the Nationals or, at the very least, make the playoffs than does Randall Delgado. Over the next five years — the time which the Cubs will control Delgado — they will almost certainly reap more value from him than Atlanta will reap from Dempster. Such is the way of trade deadline deals.
The Braves needed the rotation help now. They have the 14th best rotation in a 16 team league. Dempster has been one of the best starters in baseball this year. No, he’s not as good as his numbers in the first half indicate — no one is — but he should prove to be a far more reliable rotation presence for Atlanta between now and September.
In Delgado, the Cubs got exactly what they need: young talent. While his season has been lackluster so far, he’s just 22 and what is acceptable for a bad team in rebuilding mode is totally different than what is acceptable for a playoff contender. A few rough months in the bigs does not change the fact that Delgado has a bright future. Maybe not as a top-of-the-order ace, but certainly as a solid major league starter.
There have been some suggestions on Twitter today that the Braves think they have a chance to sign Dempster after the season is over and that he may be amenable. That’s noise at the moment and irrelevant noise at that. The Braves traded for him knowing that they only have the next 2+ months of Dempster guaranteed and that, if they make the playoffs with his help, the trade will have been worth it in the short term. Besides, signing Dempster to an extension following what is likely a late, mildly unexpected uptick in his performance may be a bad thing anyway and make the long term repercussions of this deal worse.
No matter what happens with Dempster, however, the Cubs can be happy with the return: a solid, young starting pitching prospect who may very well be — to use an over-used phrase — an important part of the next great Cubs team.
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.