Joe Girardi has options and leverage. Including a possible slot in the Fox booth.

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With the Yankees season over a lot of attention will be paid to A-Rod’s arbitration, which starts today, and Robinson Cano’s fre agency, which starts as soon as the playoffs are over.  But there is another loose end which is pretty darn important too: Joe Girardi.

Girardi is a managerial free agent, essentially, as he’s not under contract for 2014. Joel Sherman says that it feels like he wants to stay in New York. Buster Olney says that, while that may be true, Girardi is going to demand a significant raise to do it. Sherman adds this:

But there are real opportunities out there for Girardi. Tim McCarver’s spot in the Fox national booth is opening. Harold Reynolds and John Smoltz are perceived as strong candidates. But sources said the network loves Girardi and would strongly consider him.

He adds that the Cubs may have a managerial opening too and reminds us that Girardi is an Illinois guy, hailing from Peoria, going to Northwestern and playing for the Cubs.

Whether Girardi wants to leave the dugout for the booth or go to a rebuilding situation is an open question. But whether or not the Yankees should want him back in the Bronx shouldn’t be. He got more out of less talent this season than anyone. He has kept the clubhouse operating on an even keel despite all manner of controversy and scrutiny. He deals deftly with big egos and big media and the Yankees would be hard pressed who could do his job better than him. It’s just a matter if he wants it.

Either way, he’ll be making good money in 2014. And after a tumultuous 2013, it’s hard to say he won’t deserve it.

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.