The 2014 Winter Meetings in Review

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These past few days in San Diego were borderline crazy. The Dodgers turned over a huge portion of their roster. The Cubs and White Sox made all kinds of noise. The Phillies finally began their tear-down and, perhaps, their rebuild. The Tigers and Red Sox shuffled and reloaded. The Yankees acted like some small market team. The Marlins and Reds, well, we’re not entirely sure what they did. It’s almost too much to keep track of.

But that’s why HardballTalk is here, dear readers. Below are links to the highlights of these few days in December when the past season was put in the rear view mirror for good and the foundations for the next season were laid:

The biggest deal: Jon Lester signed with the Cubs for $155 million. And here’s what the deal means for him, the Cubs and the Red Sox.

The next biggest: Matt Kemp was traded by the Dodgers to the Padres.

The Dodgers signed Brandon McCarthy to a four-year deal.

The White Sox signed closer David Robertson to a four-year deal. And the Yankees never even made him an offer. For that matter, the Yankees didn’t make an offer for McCarthy either.

But that’s not all! The White Sox also traded for Jeff Samardzija.

The end of an era in Philly: Jimmy Rollins was traded to the Dodgers.

Yoenis Cespedes (and some other guys) was traded to the Tigers for Rick Porcello (and some other guys)

The Tigers then traded for the Reds’ Alfredo Simon to replace Porcello in the rotation.

The Reds then traded another starter, Mat Latos, to Miami. Who’s gonna pitch in Cincinnati, you guys?

The Red Sox rotation makeover continued with the acquisition of Wade Miley and the signing of Justin Masterson.

The Dodgers traded Dee Gordon and Dan Haren to Miami for Andrew Heaney and some other guys. Haren may retire, however.

Oh, and the Dodgers didn’t really want Heaney anyway: they flipped him to the Angels for Howie Kendrick a few hours later. Heaney nonetheless looked back fondly on his many, many minutes as a Los Angeles Dodger.

The Twins signed Ervin Santana for $54 million

The Cubs re-signed Jason Hammel, showing that you can go home again. They also traded for Dbacks catcher Miguel Montero.

The Astros did some bullpen work: they signed Luke Gregerson and then they turned around and signed Pat Neshek.

The Veteran’s Committee had ONE job — to induct someone to the Hall of Fame — and it failed to do so.

The Rays reached an agreement allowing them to look for a new stadium. And, if they don’t get a new stadium, they’ll probably be sold and moved.

We learned that Madison Bumgarner once dated someone named Madison Bumgarner.

The Braves signed infielder/utilityman Alberto Callaspo.

The Royals signed DH Kendrys Morales.

Tom Gage of the Detroit News won the Spink Award. On the broadcasting side, Dick Enberg won the Frick Award.

The Angels acquired a guy who may be the worst hitter in baseball.

The Baseball Writers Association of America made a recommendation regarding the Hall of Fame ballot, but it was lame.

The Braves made an offer everyone will pretty much easily refuse.

The Pirates got Antonio Bastardo from the Phillies.

The Rangers acquired Ross Detwiler from the Nationals

The Rockies sent infielder Josh Rutledge to the Angels for a good relief pitcher.

The Cardinals got Mark Reynolds for some reason.

Nyjer Morgan is raging against the dying of the light: he’s going to go play in Korea.

Scott Boras did what Scott Boras does best.

Finally, I ranked all 30 major league managers by handsomeness again. Because that’s what’s really important.

I think we all need a breather now. Baseball can stop for a few days while we get our bearings if it would like to. Indeed, that’d be much appreciated.

 

Keuchel apologizes for 2017 Astros’ sign-stealing scandal

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CHICAGO — Dallas Keuchel has become the first member of the 2017 Houston Astros to offer a public apology for the team’s sign-stealing scheme during their run to the World Series championship.

Speaking Friday at the fan convention for the Chicago White Sox, who signed the left-hander to a $55.5 million, three-year contract in December, Keuchel said he felt what happened was blown out of proportion, but he was sorry.

“I’m not going to go into specific detail, but during the course of the playoffs in `17, everybody was using multiple signs,” Keuchel said, “I mean, for factual purposes, when there’s nobody on base, when in the history of major league baseball has there been multiple signs?

“It’s just what the state of baseball was at that point and time,” the former AL Cy Young Award winner said. “Was it against the rules? Yes it was, and I personally am sorry for what’s come about, the whole situation.”

An investigation by Major League Baseball found the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s odds of getting a hit.

The process started in 2017, according to baseball’s investigation, and continued through the 2018 season. Houston won the franchise’s first championship three years ago, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of the World Series, and made it to the AL Championship Series in 2018.

“To the extent of the whole situation back then, I can tell you that not every game there was signs being stolen,” Keuchel said. “Some guys did a really good job, and sometimes we did as a group have signs but we still couldn’t hit the pitcher. So it wasn’t like every game we had everything going on.

“So at that point that’s when the whole system, it really works, a little bit, but at the same time, there was a human element where some guys were better than our hitters.”

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were suspended and then fired in the aftermath of MLB’s investigation, and the fallout likely will continue into the season. Managers Alex Cora of the Red Sox and Carlos Beltran of the Mets also lost their jobs over their role in the scheme, and Astros stars Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve faced heavy criticism for their first public comments after the investigation.

Oakland right-hander Mike Fiers also could be headed for an icy reception in some corners of the sport. MLB began its probe after Fiers, who played for the Astros in 2017, told The Athletic about the team’s scheme to steal signs.

Asked about Fiers, Keuchel called it a “tough subject” because of baseball’s tight-knit community in the locker room.

“It sucks to the extent of the clubhouse rule was broken and that’s where I’ll go with that,” Keuchel said. “I don’t really have much else to say about Mike.”