Mets acquire Tyler Clippard from the Athletics

22 Comments

After upgrading their lineup over the weekend with the additions of Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson, the Mets addressed the back-end of their bullpen tonight by acquiring reliever Tyler Clippard from the Athletics for prospect right-hander Casey Meisner. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports that Oakland is including $1 million in the deal, so the Mets will be responsible for around $2 million of Clippard’s remaining salary.

Clippard has functioned as Oakland’s primary closer this season, posting a 2.79 ERA and 38/21 K/BB ratio in 38 2/3 innings while going 17-for-21 in save chances. He’ll presumably move back into a set-up role in New York and has a chance to form a potent late-inning duo with closer Jeurys Familia. While Clippard’s walks are up a bit this season, he has been one of the game’s better relievers dating back to 2009. Bobby Parnell hasn’t shown his pre-Tommy John surgery form quite yet and Jenrry Mejia isn’t eligible to pitch in the postseason, so it’s a smart move for the Mets. It also helps to keep Clippard away from the first-place Nationals, who reportedly had interest in bringing him back.

Meisner, a third-round pick from 2013, owns a 2.89 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 over 35 starts and six relief appearances in the minors. The 20-year-old has split this season between Class A Savannah and High-A St. Lucie. He could be a useful piece down the road for Oakland, but the Mets still have plenty of prospect depth if they decide to pick up another bat in the coming days.

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

Getty Images
12 Comments

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.