Meg Rowley: Looking ahead to later this week, we’ll have the Cardinals prospect list.
Meg Rowley: Ok, let’s get to your questions.
TK07: The obvious question: is the Astros punishment too harsh? Not harsh enough?
Meg Rowley: I found parts of it satisfactory, and others less so. A maximum allowable monetary penalty is good, though I think this illustrates that that number likely needs to be raised, particularly when you consider how much they (and the league) made on the 2017 World Series.
Meg Rowley: The draft pick penalties are substantial, but it is interesting that they’ll still be able to play in the international space.
Meg Rowley: I like very much the message sent by Luhnow and Hinch’s suspensions, that regardless of how much you know (in Luhnow’s case) or how badly you feel about it (in Hinch’s), if you’re the person in charge, part of your mandating is to know, and a failure to do that, or create a culture in which your employees behave ethically, is a failure with consequences.
Meg Rowley: Baseball orgs are huge, geographically spread out, stuffed with smart folks, and laden with very high stakes.
Meg Rowley: You have to be confident your folks are doing the right thing, and inspire them to self-police because you can’t see everything.
Meg Rowley: Am I skeptical of Luhnow’s account of what he knew? I am! But the nice thing about this is it didn’t matter.
Meg Rowley: But with all of that said, I don’t know how you embrace that notion of responsibility and then leave Crane alone. Who does the buck stop with if not the dude with the bucks!
Meg Rowley: Manfred specifically noted the broader baseball ops culture, including the bits that led to and were revealed by the Taubmann incident, as part of the problem here. But that culture was aided and abetted by the team’s PR folks – that’s the business side.
Meg Rowley: On balance, I think this was pretty stern, but still imperfect.
Meg Rowley: And I would have liked Taubmann’s culpability to be more explicitly elucidated. Cynically, him getting stuck with a cheater label probably does more to keep him out of baseball a year from now than his clubhouse outburst, and now we don’t know all there is to know about that.
Guest: How do you feel about the punishment given to the Astros? I’ve noticed that a large number of people believe any owners would be willing to give up $40-45 million to win a championship, if that’s what it costs
Meg Rowley: I don’t think vacating titles is necessarily the right tool – if the thing that hurts the most is the money, go after the money imo.
Fred: Better name for an infamous baseball incident: “Merkle’s boner” or “Banging scheme”?
Meg Rowley: Banging Scheme because I can say it to my mom, and if she repeats it, not die of embarrassment.
Meg Rowley: Banging Scheme. A banging scheme! Have you ever heard a better thing? I have not.
Meg Rowley: Banging Scheme
Meg Rowley: B
Meg Rowley: a
Meg Rowley: n
Meg Rowley: g
Meg Rowley: i
Meg Rowley: n
Meg Rowley: g
Meg Rowley: S
Meg Rowley: c
Meg Rowley: h
Meg Rowley: e
Meg Rowley: m
Meg Rowley: e
Meg Rowley: Ok, I’m done now.
Meg Rowley: (I am not done)
Tino: How long will this Astros stuff distract us from the fact that we still haven’t been told much about how we’re going to fix the Rocket ball
Meg Rowley: Multiple things can require fixing at once.
Cove Dweller: Who is managing the Red Sox this season?
Meg Rowley: Wouldn’t be surprised to see Ron Roenicke, at least on an interim basis. Normally falls to the bench coach.
Meg Rowley: I imagine baseball is going to take the decision out of Chaim Bloom and ownership’s hands anyhow, but Cora isn’t Chaim’s guy, so I also wouldn’t be surprised if we see a dismissal prior to the conclusion of the investigation.
Meg Rowley: And honestly, the Red Sox as an org are likely in for it, too – I’m sure there will be much pointing of fingers at Cora as someone who brought Astros DNA into the org, but they’ll be repeat offenders.
Chris: Thoughts on Logan Morrison’s statement?
Meg Rowley: That while I don’t have special insight into those particular orgs that I would be shocked if this ends with Houston and Boston, and that fans of every team would be well served to avoid crowing too much lest they have to eat said crow.
Nick: Who manages the AL for the 2020 All-Star Game? (For reference, the last time a pennant-winning manager had left baseball before the following season, it was Tony La Russa, who came out of retirement to coach the NL All Stars in 2012. Somehow I doubt AJ Hinch will be doing something similar.)
Meg Rowley: Aaron Boone seems likely, right? Next winningest AL Manager.
Meg Rowley: I don’t think the league would be grumpy about the Yankees’ manager being on that broadcast a lot.
Who should be angriest?: The Dodgers? Kershaw specifically? The Yankees? Judge specifically (MVP)? General baseball fans because the sport is pretty bereft of integrity (especially with unpunished players)?
Meg Rowley: I think fringe pitching types whose careers were negatively impacted by their performance against Houston’s hitters are first in line for me.
Meg Rowley: Kershaw and the Dodgers (we’re assuming for these purposes they didn’t get up to nonsense of their own) (me noting that assumption isn’t meant to suggest they did get up to nonsense, simply that such nonsense would shift the calculus) (b a n g i n g s c h e m e) have their grievances to be sure, but he’s still Clayton Kershaw. They’re still a wildly successful franchise.
Meg Rowley: And I think fans should be mad. Baseball is made up. Not that it doesn’t happen, but it happens the way it does because we say it does. It’s not gravity. We need the way baseball is to feel like it works because it is so easy to remember that it is arbitrary and thus wonder if it matters. Whenever there’s this sort of fraying of confidence, we risk making fans feel like they’ve wasted their time, and wonder if they shouldn’t use that time for something else.
TKDC: Whose interests would be served by having a huge slew of MLB players suspended to start the season because they participated in sign stealing? Other than the AAAA players that would avoid the bus rides?
Meg Rowley: Baseball is a game that loves and is preoccupied with records. We like being able to say, this guy? He was this good. That instinct animates our entire site! And now we don’t know. Or, we know mostly, but not all the way. I don’t think suspensions for players are all that practical for the reasons Manfred laid out, and I imagine knowing they wouldn’t get suspended improved the degree of candor present in their interviews, but there is something deeply unsatisfying about knowing that this central part of our interest in the game has been made a little less reliable. Who do we see about that?
Nolan: The Brewers have seen a tremendous amount of turnover this off season. Overall, would you rather have the 2019 complement of Grandal, Moustakas, Thames, Grisham, Aguilar, and Shaw; or the projected 2020 complement of Sogard, Narvaez, Garcia, Urias, Smoak, and Gyorko?
Meg Rowley: The 2019 complement.
Meg Rowley: I’m not as down on Milwaukee as some, but 2019.
Meg Rowley: Just the drop from Grandal to Narvaez alone is… significant. Part of this is my distaste for bad framing. You know what sucks? That. Makes me sad.
Chuncey Wiggins: Is it just me or did the Braves receive a harsher punishment than the Astros?
Meg Rowley: It would appear that the org learned the cooperate with investigators lesson.
Meg Rowley: Also, neither of these situations is good, but, given the human impact of what Coppy got up to, it isn’t surprising.
Jerome: Do you think the fallout from the Banging Scheme will have a material impact on the Astros 2020 performance? Are you now taking the under on their Steamer/ZIPS win projections because of this or no?
Meg Rowley: Organizational disruption can’t be good for a baseball team, but the base talent is unchanged. I’m more concerned about the absence of Gerrit Cole than Jeff Luhnow, put it that way.
Sirras: I’m having trouble understanding why the Cardinals would be interested in trading for Arenado but weren’t interested in bidding for Rendon. The dollar figures are similar but Arenado costs prospects while Rendon just cost cash. Any ideas?
Meg Rowley: Some of it might be where Rendon wanted to be. Teams are often weird or cheap, but we should remember that free agents have non-monetary preferences too.
Jason N: Is there a disincentive for players to act as whistleblowers on sign stealing? As in… teams get fined millions of dollars. Some of those teams may not choose to just absorb the cost and as a result spend less on the field product, leaving less money for the players? Would the MLBPA ever counsel players to keep it quiet?
Meg Rowley: I don’t want to speculate about the last one, but yes, I would imagine there is real risk there. I imagine Fiers’ motivations were complex – some noble, some a touch petty – but there is no denying the risk involved. Teams are paranoid about non-banging scheme info leaking. Imagine how they feel about the potential for giving away the banging scheme store?
Roger: How would *you* answer Craig’s question on trade value?
Meg Rowley: Lindor, Betts, Bryant, Arenado
TKDC: Crane owns the team. The fine and lost picks hurt the team and by extension they hurt Crane.
Meg Rowley: No one is saying they don’t hurt. They’re saying they don’t hurt sufficiently, either as punishment for the Astros or as a deterrent for future bad behavior.
P: Say the Astros (or Sox) come back and win it all again this year. Do we view the penalties in a different light or does the story line become “maybe they really were good”?
Meg Rowley: No one thinks the Astros weren’t good last year, and the Astros weren’t, as far as the report concludes, doing this last year.
Nolan: between his handling of the Taubmann thing, his exit statement, and overall reputation, is Luhnow just a Bad Dude?
Meg Rowley: I don’t know him, but if he isn’t, he does one hell of an impression, and at some point, you just are what your record shows.
BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: Would Greta Gerwig have got an Oscar nom if “Little Women” was titled “Banging Scheme”?
Meg Rowley: Not convinced you understood the plot of Little Women
Dave: What do you do to feel better on sad, cold, wintery days?
Meg Rowley: I remember that in a little less than two months, I’ll be standing on a backfield in Arizona watching young dudes throw indistinguishably bad breaking balls.
Meg Rowley: Meg: does she love baseball, or just being warm/near good tacos?
Fast Ed: How long before Hinch and Luhnow work again in baseball. a) 1-3 years b) more than 3 years c) nevah?
Meg Rowley: I think Luhnow is done. Hinch I’m less sure.
Billy Beane: Hey Meg, you, perhaps INTENTIONALLY? Allowed us access to font stuff in this chat. I think it will be abused by the incoherent masses fun.
Meg Rowley: I think JotCast underwent an update
Dave C: Assuming Cora is suspended and eventually fired, should the Mets do the same with Beltran? Only other person singled out in the report
Meg Rowley: I think there is a real difference between a player and a coach occupying the roles they each did in this. I don’t think you change your stance on suspending players based on one of them now being a manager, though boy howdy, I’d be nervous about it.
Guest: The Astros can still sign Free Agents that would sacrifice draft picks with the result of delaying the punishment. Isn’t this an easy way to diminish the value of losing the draft picks?
Meg Rowley: It can delay the forfeiture, but the memo is clear that the loss is of regular first and second round picks, and that if such a pick doesn’t exist, the next class when it does will suffer the penalty.
LLW: What percentage of the David Peralta extension can be attributed to being a good clubhouse presence? I want to know the exact dollar amount awarded for getting Zack Greinke to do the driving the bus thing
Meg Rowley: heh, I don’t know that exactly, but I do know that they just love him, so let’s speculate wildly and say all but $5 of it
Guest: If the Astros sign a FA that would cost them a draft pick every year until the new CBA, don’t they just subvert the punishment all together?
Meg Rowley: Find it very unlikely that they willingly do that.
pumpsie: One year of Betts over two of Bryant? Disagree.
Meg Rowley: Go vote!
Andrew: Do you think the pacing and value of free agent signings this off-season mitigates, to an extent, some of the fervor for a players strike?
Meg Rowley: A robust FA market helps, but doesn’t address serious issues like how little young players make
Meg Rowley: So some but likely not enough
brad: Meg the person who profited literally the most in all this is Crane, but he gets off scott free… If you really wanted to send a message you force him to sell the team.
Meg Rowley: I think that is about as unrealistic as vacating the title, but yeah, pretty I said that part was insufficient
Chris: Will anyone sign today?
Meg Rowley: Truly the best part of yesterday was actually the A’s trading for Tony Kemp amidst all of this
Crane: Let me know the next time someone takes $5 million out of your pocket and says you got off scott free.
Meg Rowley: Jim Crane is worth $2.5 billion
Them: Was the fact that Beltran was the only player named due to his being previously mentioned in public reports, or should it suggest that he had a larger role than other players?
Meg Rowley: I think it was because he had been previously named
Alex: I think most people simply assumed Manfred would take away IFA pool money for multiple years from the Astros. Why didn’t he take this course of action as well when he has with other organizations? It’s clear that the Astros are now going to try to load up on IFA $ to counter there draft pick loss.
Meg Rowley: I was surprised there wasn’t an associated IFA punishment also, though good to remember that pool isn’t limitless
Alex: apparently Justin Verlander and Alex Bregman have everything to say and love jumping in front of the cameras…except when they’re caught red-handed cheating. Bauer’s tweets last night were so on-point.
Meg Rowley: There is an obvious if unsurprising hypocrisy there, though we could all stand to be less impressed with fiery tweets from Trevor Bauer.
Meg Rowley: Ok pals, I gotta get rolling and run the ol’ FanGraphs. Thanks for all the good questions, and sorry for what I didn’t get to this week.
Meg Rowley: Hope everyone has a great rest of the week!
Meg is the managing editor of FanGraphs, the host of FanGraphs Audio, and the co-co-host of Effectively Wild. Her work has previously appeared at Baseball Prospectus, Lookout Landing, and Just A Bit Outside.