Craig Calcaterra

2018 Winter Meetings Wrapup

9 Comments

IN AN AEROPLANE OVER THE MOUNTAINS — I’m on my way back to the wonderful Midwest, my 10th Winter Meetings in the rearview mirror. Do planes have rearview mirrors? No? Eh, just go with it. I’m tired.

As has increasingly become the case in the past few years, the Winter Meetings were something less-than-eventful, transactions-wise. The biggest deal was probably the three-team trade I wrote about a little bit ago, and it’s not even official yet. As for the official deals, here is everything that was done since Monday:

DECEMBER 10TH

  • Baltimore Orioles – Claimed RHP Rio Ruiz off waivers from the Atlanta Braves.
  • Boston Red Sox – Signed free agent RHP Nathan Eovaldi.
  • Cincinnati Reds – Claimed LHP Robby Scott off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.
  • Detroit Tigers – Signed free agent RHP Tyson Ross.
  • San Diego Padres – Signed free agent RHP Garrett Richards.
  • San Francisco Giants – Claimed OF Michael Gerber off waivers from the Detroit Tigers.
  • Seattle Mariners – Claimed INF Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels.
  • St. Louis Cardinals – Claimed RHP Ryan Meisinger off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles.
  • Texas Rangers – Claimed INF Carlos Asuaje off waivers from the San Diego Padres.

DECEMBER 11TH

DECEMBER 12TH

  • Cincinnati Reds – Acquired RHP Tanner Roark from the Washington Nationals for RHP Tanner Rainey.
  • Philadelphia Phillies – Signed free agent OF Andrew McCutchen.

That may seem like a lot, but compared to the way the Winter Meetings were even five or six years ago, it’s pretty slow. Bill talked about that a little bit yesterday.

The Rule 5 Draft went down this morning. Here are the picks:

As is usually the case, we’re more likely to hear about a Rule 5 available player who was not picked and who makes an impact in 2019, a-la Max Muncy in 2018, than any of these guys. To the extent you’d like to get an expert’s breakdown on all of this, though, I highly recommend checking out J.J. Cooper’s takes on it all at Baseball America.

Beyond the transactions, the big news of the Winter Meetings, as always, involved the Veterans Committee’s Hall of Fame election. You know by now that Harold Baines and Lee Smith made the cut. Here’s our initial take on that. The next day I tried to explain how Baines actually made it (short answer: cronyism). The day after that I ripped Tony La Russa a new one for, well, being Tony La Russa, which is always fun. Oh, and it’s not just players: the great Jayson Stark received the Spink Award, which was well-deserved.

Another winner: Brad Ausmus, who is once again Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager. My apologies to Charlie Montoyo of the Blue Jays for ranking 30th even though there were only 29 managers at the time I made the rankings. That’s kind of sad, but if you read the post it makes sense.

And that, it would seem is that. With scores and scores of free agents left, all manner of open spots on teams’ depth charts and, one hopes, some teams who actually want to improve themselves this winter, there’s still a lot of work to be done this offseason. Continue to come back to HardballTalk to keep abreast of all the news that’s fit to print and a great deal of nonsense too. All of it has its place and we like having you around for it.

Justin Verlander laughed at after saying Astros were “technologically and analytically advanced”

Getty Images
9 Comments

Justin Verlander was at the annual Baseball Writers Association of America banquet last night, on hand to accept the 2019 Cy Young Award. Normally such things are pretty routine events, but nothing is routine with the Houston Astros these days.

During his acceptance speech, Verlander made some comments about the Astros’ “technological and analytical advancements.” The comments were greeted by some laughter in the room as well as some groans. At least one person on hand claimed that other players present were visibly angry.

It’s hard to tell the context of it all without a full video — maybe Verlander meant it as a joke, maybe the reactions were more varied than is being described — but here’s how reporters on hand for it last night are describing it:

If it was a joke it was ill-timed, as not many around the game think the sign-stealing stuff is funny at the moment. Especially in light of the fact that, despite having several opportunities to do so, Astros players have failed to show any accountability for their cheating.

And yes, that includes former Astros Dallas Keuchel, who was praised for “apologizing” at a White Sox fan event on Friday, but whose “apology” was couched in a lot of deflection and excuse-making about how it was just something that was done at the time and about how technology was to blame. Keuchel also tried to minimize it, saying that the Astros didn’t do it all the time. Which is rich given that the most prominent video evidence of their trash can-banging scheme came from a blowout Astros win in a meaningless August game against a losing team. If they were doing it in that situation, please, do not tell me they weren’t doing it when games really mattered.

Anyway, I’d like to think Verlander was just trying to take a stab at a joke here, because Verlander is the wrong guy to be sending to be sending any kind of messages diminishing the cheating given that he has a pretty solid track record of holding other players’ feet to the fire when they get busted.

For example, here he was in 2018 after Robinson Canó got busted for PEDs:

Of course, consistency can be a problem for Verlander when his teammates are on the ones who are on the hook. Here was his response to Tigers infielder Jhonny Peralta being suspended in the wake of the Biogenesis scandal:

“Everybody makes mistakes. He’s my brother. We fight and bleed and sweat together on the baseball field. If my brother makes a mistake, especially if he owns up to it and serves his time, I don’t see how you can hold a grudge or anything like that. “It’s one thing to step up and be a man and own up to his mistake.”

Verlander, it should also be noted, was very outspoken about teams engaging in advanced sign-stealing schemes once upon a time. here he was in 2017, while still with the Tigers, talking about such things in a June 2017 interview with MLive.com.

“We don’t have somebody, but I’m sure teams have a person that can break down signals and codes and they’ll have the signs before you even get out there on the mound.  It’s not about gamesmanship anymore. It used to be, ‘Hey, if you can get my signs, good for you.’ In the past, if a guy on second (base) was able to decipher it on a few pitches, I guess that was kind of part of the game. I think it’s a different level now. It’s not good.”

Which makes me wonder how he felt when he landed on the Astros two months later and realized they had a sophisticated cheating operation underway. If the feelings were mixed, he was able to bury the part of them which had a problem with it, because he’s said jack about it since this all blew up in November. And, of course, has happily accepted the accolades and the hardware he he has received since joining Houston, some of which was no doubt acquired by virtue of a little extra, ill-gotten run support.

Anyway, wake me up when someone — anyone — associated with the Astros shows some genuine accountability about this.