Manfred: Astros Investigation "Most Thorough" Ever Conducted By MLB
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the ongoing sign-stealing investigation against the Astros is "probably the most thorough" ever conducted by the commissioner's office, according to Chandler Rome of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Manfred yesterday said that his office has "interviewed more than 60 witnesses, has 76,000 emails through which to sift and 'an additional trove of instant messages.'" Manfred: "It is my hope to conclude the investigation just as promptly as possible, but it's just really hard to predict how long something like that is going to take." Manfred "declined to elaborate on possible punishments, calling such predictions 'wholly inappropriate.'" A timeline for the investigation's conclusion "remains a mystery, though follow-up interviews suggest it could drag longer into the winter" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/12). THE ATHLETIC's Rosenthal & Drellich cited sources as saying that MLB's investigation "likely will not be completed until after the new year." A report "shown to be incomplete after the fact would be a wart of the league's credibility, particularly after Manfred's public commitment to thoroughness -- a point that may underscore Manfred's deliberate approach." One rumor that circulated at the Winter Meetings this week was a "belief the league intended to release its report before Christmas." But "too much needs to happen for MLB to comfortably proceed on that schedule" (THEATHLETIC.com, 12/11).
WIDENING THE SCOPE: SI.com's Tom Verducci reported the Astros' sign-stealing scandal has "expanded to include" the '18 season. A source said that an AL manager midway through that season "telephoned the office of the commissioner" with his "suspicion that the Astros were illegally stealing signs" at Minute Maid Park. The source said the manager had the same concerns during the '17 season, but made the complaint in '18 because "he felt he finally had enough of it." A source "confirmed that MLB is 'pulling on the threads from 2018' in the Houston probe, and though no evidence of violations like those from 2017 have been found, the work is ongoing." The source said, "If there is anything there, it will be found" (SI.com, 12/11).
NO APPEAL TO FALL BACK ON: ESPN's Pedro Gomez reported there is "no appeal process” for front office and managers in this investigation, making Manfred’s decision final. Gomez: "There’s no union that protects the front office or management. ... That’s what has the Astros somewhat worried.” ESPN’s Karl Ravech said the if the allegations are true, then the Astros “screwed it up and I don’t think you need to worry about making them happy by doing it quickly, you’ve got to get it right” ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN2, 12/12).