When the Twins traded Denard Span last week the assumption was that they did so in part because Ben Revere was ready to step in as their new center fielder and leadoff man, but now they’ve traded Revere to the Phillies.
Todd Zolecki of MLB.com broke the news and Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com says the Twins are getting right-hander Vance Worley and pitching prospect Trevor May in return.
Minnesota has an incredible lack of quality pitching throughout the organization and one area where the Twins have good depth is the outfield, where former first-round pick Aaron Hicks could be ready to become the starting center fielder at some point in 2013. Revere is very fast and very good defensively, but he has zero power and a fairly limited overall upside, so if the Twins feel Hicks will be ready soon anyway it makes some sense.
Revere has tremendous range in center field that more than makes up for perhaps the worst arm in baseball and he’s capable of swiping 50 bases at a good clip, but he may never hit an over-the-fence homer and through age 24 he’s hit .278 with a .319 on-base percentage and .323 slugging percentage. For years he’s been compared to Juan Pierre, for better or worse.
Worley missed the final month of the season with an elbow injury that required minor surgery, but when healthy the 24-year-old right-hander has a 3.50 ERA in 278 career innings with a solid strikeout rate of 7.7 per nine frames. Long term Worley is a mid-rotation guy, but on the Twins right now he immediately becomes their best starter. Barring more trades, of course.
May is a 22-year-old former fourth-round pick who spent this year at Double-A, posting a 4.87 ERA while racking up 151 strikeouts in 149 innings. He has control issues, but May was a top-100 prospect coming into the season and has 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings for his pro career. Minnesota wanted young pitching and they definitely got it.
(Note: I also wrote a much lengthier, Twins-centric analysis of the Revere trade.)
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.