Rickie Weeks is on fire

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Rickie Weeks was so brutally bad in April and May that the Brewers called up Triple-A infielder Scooter Gennett and have been starting him at second base over Weeks in about half the games this month. Whether or not that motivated Weeks is unclear, but whatever the case he’s on an incredible tear that has turned around his whole season.

Weeks hit .183 with three homers and a .565 OPS in 51 games through the end of May, striking out 59 times versus 23 walks.

So far in June he’s 18-for-42 (.429) with five homers and a 1.381 OPS in 15 games, with an 8/5 K/BB ratio. That includes last night’s big game against the Cubs, in which Weeks went 3-for-4 with two homers and four RBIs.

In the span of 48 plate appearances Weeks raised his overall batting average from .183 to .230 and his overall OPS from .565 to .723. And he’s started the past three games at second base, so presumably that time-sharing arrangement with Gennett is on ice for a while.

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.