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TuesdoLinks: Grime & Punishment

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You are thinking about Houston penalties. Be careful what you wish for.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Angels Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

THE HOT CORNER

Right now, as a scourer of all corners of the baseball Interverse, I am seeing more and more comments pertaining to the ongoing MLB investigation of the Asstros and how soon the hammer will come down. Even articles that approach that line in the sand of “I dare you Rob Manfred to chicken out and not wield the heaviest hammer” kind of stuff. In this age of a need for instant gratification, there is an urge for immediacy and this Asstros scandal is no exception.

But for me, I want it to drag out. The longer it takes the more convinced I am that there is a real problem and there will be real consequences for large numbers of named participants. That it also drags out the suspense and leaves the Asstros and their fans in the Pit while MLB’s Pendulum continues to swing, well, is the kind of juicy sweet that needs to be narrated by Vincent Price himself, all winter long.

So let’s consider consequences, intended and otherwise.

First off, this is that long and loose thread dangling from your favorite garment and you just know that if you start pulling on it the entire thing might - will? - unravel to the point of ruination. Are you certain you want somebody else pulling on it? Pretending that every team is not involved in at least some level of sign stealing that MLB would frown upon is naive, and MLB will be under some level of standards adherence. What if we had the liability of 25 to 27 MLB General Managers at risk of suspension before we get to the All-Star Break? Or, if one report is to be believed, lifetime banishment? Just something to consider.

That said, I am still of the belief that the Asstros have been behaving at a uniquely brazen level. As I wrote yesterday, it would not surprise me to learn that their organization knew that they were protected by shared culpability and the code of fraternal silence, so they considered that an opportunity to gain leverage and pushed the boundaries without concern. And, since we don’t allow players to go head hunting and “police the game” themselves anymore, the Asstros and found a unique competitive edge that was, yes, uniquely illicit and safe to operate. Thus, theirs would warrant a punishment equally unique.

So here would be my ideas ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT EVERYTHING THAT HAS BEEN REVEALED IS TRUE AND THEY ARE GUILTY (and that would probably mean that we have only yet witnessed the smoke and not the actual fire). They are extremely hard but not fatal. Something that each franchise would feel deeply, but not be destroyed by:

  • Every player who participated would be given a 30 calendar day suspension and $50,000 fine, time not accumulating during the All-Star Break or IL time. They would be eligible for the post-season. If the player comes forward and admits to everything they did and know, those get cut in half. No more than three players on the same team would begin serving during the same week. Any player not on the Asstros roster would serve that fine and suspension with the team that they are playing with, starting with their first regular season availability date, AND, for each of these non-roster players the Asstros lose one active roster spot while the suspension is being served elsewhere.
  • Every member of the coaching staff except A.J. Hinch who participated is suspended for half a season and fined $50,000. If they are employed on another coaching staff they will serve that suspension there. The Asstros will not lose the service of that equivalent member of their coaching staff. They are eligible to coach in the post-season.
  • A.J. Hinch is suspended for one season and fined $100,000, whether or not it is proven that he participated or had knowledge, due to lack of institutional control. He is not eligible to manage during the post-season.
  • Any member of the Asstros Front Office found to have participated, with the exception of the General Manager, is banished from MLB for life.
  • Asstros GM Jeffrey Luhnow is suspended for one season whether he had any personal knowledge or not, due to lack of institutional control. He is also fined $250,000.
  • The Asstros franchise is fined $25 million to be added to the MLB revenue sharing pool and paid back out all the remaining 29 teams after the regular revenue sharing payouts. They lose their first overall draft choice in the June Amateur drafts for 2020, 2021 and 2022. They lose 100% of their international pool money for 2020, 2021 and 2022.

That’s what’s blazing in my mind. How do your ideas compare?


ANGELS

Vernon Wells is now going to be a player agent. Let the snark flow freely. One thing you have to concede, however, is that few people have been able to gain so much out of generating so little. Wells is a master of leverage, which any player should envy. Oh, and there is this most excellent employment reference. Vernon knows how to get somebody to turn on the MP3 player.................

($$) - Billy Eppler is convinced that he can finally pay the full asking price in order to trade for pitching: “I think we can match up in deals, just about any deal. If clubs are willing to engage, we can engage.”..........

A guy such as Jo Adell makes what Billy Eppler claim, actually be true. “There aren’t many pages of Adell’s prospect story left to be read that aren’t already slathered in drool...”.........

Here is a Baseball Prospectus Angels Top 10 Prospect Chat from yesterday afternoon.........


HOT STOVE ACTION AND OTHER RUMORS

The Asstros signed Yuli Gurriel to a one-year deal. This avoids an arbitration award for this winter, but supposedly the deal leaves the Asstros on track to lose Gurriel to Free Agency after 2020.................

Here it comes. The rise of Twins rumors. I’m warning you all to watch out for the Twins. Their activity could have a real cascade effect on your plans.........


BASEBALL THINGS IN GENERAL

Ok. Let’s just suck it up and get through the inevitable. The latest Hall of Fame ballot is out. Derek Jeter is on it. The 2019 Induction ceremony will be July 21 and we should expect 4 days post-induction before the Big Apple Glow finally fades back into that realm that only means something to Yorkers, old or new. But if you care to smile, Eric Chavez is on it and he might be somebody you bump into walking the concourse in Anaheim. And Chone Figgins is on it and has an over/under share prop bet of 1%............Jay Jaffe is the world’s leading expert outsider on all things HoF worthy and he breaks down all the necessities..........(You cannot imaging the number of Paul Konerko Hall of Fame stories that popped up yesterday. Konerko and his career 27.7 bWAR.)..........

Good finds (multiple), Inspector Internet! Lance McCullers tweeting on January 19, 2018 in response to why he does not favor limiting mound visits: “You can’t limit mound visits, especially from the catcher, when everyone is using adv tech to steal signs. You have to change them too often to try to keep things as “even” as possible. And I’m not talking about signs when a man is on second.” McCullers would know, first hand. He’s an Asstros pitcher. (h/t reddit)..........And here is Alex Cora doing everything in his power to advise reporters to read between his lines and know that Carlos Beltran upgrade the Yankees and the Yankees are now way ahead of the Red Sox when it comes to high-tech cheating..........

Do teams hire managers because of their sign-stealing skills? Well, yes, probably. Probably they very much do. Then again, it wouldn’t explain why it is that Joe Espada keeps failing to snag a managerial spot. Not unless Espada himself tells his prospective employers during the interview process that he has nothing to do with the Asstros cheating systems and he doesn’t support hem and most certainly will not be bringing them over to the prospective club.........

MLB contracting MiLB is pretty amazing stuff. Reading the MLB spin on it is an intriguing take on fresh spin. It sounds so reasonable and compelling what with the way they are using the Minor League players as human shields. They can pay MiLB guys more! They can ease the burden of MiLB travel! Of course, a team like the Angels contracting 2 MiLB affiliates will save about the same amount of money as Arte paid Felix Pena this year so the remaining MiLB players aren’t going to get much of any bump, if we actually see that happen at all. And there are a thousand ways to re-org MiLB and reduce bus travel. In the end it’s a pretty miserable way to go about building a brand and connecting with any generation, much less the next ones. There are some large regions west of the Mississippi that are going to get completely hosed.....I also really struggle with the proposition that analytics is so strong that the real world is less necessary. Scott Boras was making this point on MLB radio just last week when he was pointing out how consistently wrong projections systems are, and how they are consistently under-projecting top talent. It’s as if the Front Office models are intentionally skewed to undervalue skills. And those are the math models that we want teams using to replace actual competitive development?..........

Yes, we are entering an era of superteams. How long it lasts is yet to be determined (the MLB response to the Asstros’ chutzpah may mark their own rapid demise), and is how many people even find this troubling (I do, because I think it’s more fun for a sport to have some semblance of drama on a daily basis). Fortunately, baseball has a lot of dials and levers that can be used to balance things back out. The trick is to use the correct ones..........

The wrong dial or lever, as we have learned, would be the damned baseball itself. MLB needs a consistent one FOR EVERYBODY, not just pitchers and not just batters, but even Front Office execs so they know how to plan and build a roster..........

Long form: youth baseball is getting highly competitive and taking the fun out of things. This article gets written every 10 years somewhere, and every time it gets written some large of people respond with “yeah, but this time it’s right!”.................

Never anything but tragic. Twins prospect Ryan Costello, playing for New Zealand in the Australian Baseball League, was found dead in his hotel room of natural causes. He was only 23-years of age..........

Because it’s hard work to spend time thinking through things and because we canot depend on technology to get every awards call right, the mothership wants to eliminate the concept of “valuable” from the Most Valuable Player Award.

Gee, really? A carrier wants to stifle competition? Who knew? (Stan Kroenke, the guy feeling ill used here, is the same Stan Kroenke who owns the Rams. Ask St. Louis sports fans how they feel about Kroenke getting hosed.)..........


STUFF

This little girl has the most badass way of pulling out her loose tooth.........NFL players and MLB players are joining up to get an economic grip on the use of their likeness........Iconic Swings. Wait for it.........Youth shall be served. Baseball ain’t for the Prince Fielders any longer..........Job Postings! Nothing from the Asstros this week, I regret to report. Inside Edge needs an intern. I guess that is a sign to how legit Inside Edge has become within the world of MLB, that they, too can under-employ eager interns. And the Cleveland Indians need an Amateur Scout “Fellow”. This would be a trial to see if the candidates are worthy of further adventures. And they want two “fellows”, so you would be working with another “fellow” and that would make the pair of you a “fellowship”. And the goals of the Indians, as with all MLB teams, would be to find The Ring..........