Maybe he has really terrible b.o.

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That’s one of my working theories for the odd case of Jose Mijares.

Now, Mijares was pretty bad last year, finishing with a 4.59 ERA and a 30/30 K/BB ratio in 49 innings for the Twins. Still, between 2009-10, he had a 2.67 ERA and an 83/32 K/BB ratio in 94 innings. The Twins probably could have kept him for $700,000-$1 million as a first-time arbitration eligible player, but they non-tendered him and the Royals signed him as a free agent for $925,000.

And, in his limited role as a lefty specialist, Mijares was pretty great as a Royal. He had a 2.56 ERA and a 37/13 K/BB ratio in 38 2/3 innings for the season. He was charged with just one blown save versus 11 holds. Lefties were hitting .214 with just one homer and five walks in 84 at-bats against him.

Still, when Mijares was placed on waivers last week, no American League team bothered putting in a claim. He also made it through 10 National League teams before the Giants were awarded the claim.

And then the truly shocking event; the Royals simply let him go, getting only the waiver price return. It’s going to save them about $175,000 (Mijares had about $325,000 left on his contract; the minimum-salaried player replacing him on the roster will make about $175,000 the rest of the way). That’s nothing for a major league team.

Also, it’s not like they merely lost Mijares for the rest of this year; he was under team control through 2014. He’ll probably be due $1.25 million-$1.5 million in arbitration next year.

So, there’s one obvious answer here; Mijares was a real problem in the clubhouse. That was part of why the Royals dropped Yuniesky Betancourt on Sunday, and Mijares has long been viewed as something of a headcase. The Royals obviously didn’t think he’d be worth keeping around in 2013, so they figured they might as well let him go now.

An Astros executive asked scouts to use cameras, binoculars to steal signs in 2017

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The Athletic reports that an Astros executive asked scouts to spy on opponents’ dugouts in August of 2017, suggesting in an email that they use cameras or binoculars to do so.

The email, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports, came from Kevin Goldstein, who is currently a special assistant for player personnel but who at the time was the director of pro scouting. In it he wrote:

“One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout. What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can (or can’t) do and report back your findings.”

The email came during the same month that the Red Sox were found to have illegally used an Apple Watch to steal signs from the Yankees. The Red Sox were fined as a result, and it led to a clarification from Major League Baseball that sign stealing via electronic or technological means was prohibited. Early in 2019 Major League Baseball further emphasized this rule and stated that teams would receive heavy penalties, including loss of draft picks and/or bonus pool money if they were found to be in violation.

It’s an interesting question whether Goldstein’s request to scouts would fall under the same category as the Apple Watch stuff or other technology-based sign-stealing schemes. On the one hand, the email certainly asked scouts to use cameras and binoculars to get a look at opposing signs. On the other hand, it does not appear that it was part of a sign-relaying scheme or that it was to be used in real time. Rather, it seems aimed at information gathering for later use. The Athletic suggests that using eyes or binoculars would be considered acceptable in 2017 but that cameras would not be. The Athletic spoke to scouts and other front office people who all think that asking scouts to use a camera would “be over the line” or would constitute “cheating.”

Of course, given how vague, until very recently Major League Baseball’s rules have been about this — it’s long been governed by the so-called “unwritten rules” and convention, only recently becoming a matter of official sanction — it’s not at all clear how the league might consider it. It’s certainly part and parcel of an overarching sign-stealing culture in baseball which we are learning has moved far, far past players simply looking on from second base to try to steal signs, which has always been considered a simple matter of gamesmanship. Now, it appears, it is organizationally-driven, with baseball operations, scouting and audio-visual people being involved. The view on all of this has changed given how sophisticated and wide-ranging an operation modern sign-stealing appears to be. Major League Baseball was particularly concerned, at the time the Red Sox were punished for the Apple Watch stuff, that it involved management and front office personnel.

Regardless of how that all fits together, Goldstein’s email generated considerable angst among Astros scouts, many of whom, The Athletic and ESPN report, commented in real time via email and the Astros scout’s Slack channel, that they considered it to be an unreasonable request that would risk their reputations as scouts. Some voiced concern to management. Today that email has new life, emerging as it does in the wake of last week’s revelations about the Astros’ sign-stealing schemes.

This is quickly becoming the biggest story of the offseason.