Manfred Adds '18, '19 Seasons To Astros Sign-Stealing Investigation
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that the league's investigation into the Astros' "alleged sign-stealing" will include the '18 and '19 seasons, "adding two more years to an inquiry already involving" the '17 World Series-winning team, according to Chandler Rome of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Manfred said, "To the extent that we find other leads, we are going to follow these leads. We will get to the bottom of what we have out there." Rome notes the expanded investigation into the sign-stealing is "being combined with MLB's other probe into the Astros for comments" made by former Assistant GM/Player Evaluation Brandon Taubman. Manfred said that the league's investigation into Taubman and sign-stealing "started independently of one another and 'ended up as one big thing.'" Astros Owner Jim Crane "declined comment on the investigations." Meanwhile, Manfred "refused to reveal the nature of any of his conversations with Crane." For the second time in three days, Manfed "declined to speculate on potential punishment if the Astros are deemed responsible" for either allegation (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/22). THE ATHLETIC's Evan Drellich noted Manfred's comments about following all possible leads may have been "attempting to dampen the impact" of his comments earlier this week. Manfred had said he has "no reason to believe (illegal sign stealing) extends beyond the Astros at this point in time." What is still "unclear is what threshold of information MLB needs to pursue such leads with other teams" (THEATHLETIC.com, 11/21).
BLEMISHED BANNER: In Houston, David Barron writes the '17 World Series title had been the "grandest moment in the history of Houston baseball," but now the city's "shining star now represents a tarnished emblem" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/22). In Minneapolis, Michael Rand writes the Astros "seem to be deploying a 'don't just look at us, everyone is doing it' defense, which is about the most guilty defense possible" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/22).
MANFRED'S MINEFIELD: In DC, Thom Loverro writes with the Astros investigation, the MiLB contraction plans and an approaching CBA deadline, Manfred is "facing a trifecta of major challenges in the coming months." The industry "will be watching" to see if he "acts in the best interest of the game." If Manfred is "indecisive on the Astros, it sends the wrong message to baseball" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/22). In Ft. Worth, Jeff Wilson writes it seems that "all forms of baseball punishment" are at Manfred's disposal (Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/22).