MLB was told about the Astros’ system years ago and did nothing

Craig Calcaterra

Jonathan Lucroy plays for the Red Sox now. Yesterday he talked to the Boston media about his time in Oakland. Specifically, he talked about how, when he played there, he and the rest of the A’s learned about the specifics of the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme from teammate Mike Fiers, who was traded to Oakland in August of that season.

Here’s what Lucroy said about what went down when he heard about Fiers going public in November:

“When I saw it, I read it and I’m like, ‘Oh boy, here we go. And people are calling me and I’m like, ‘Look, I’ve known about that for two years.’ Guys who were playing against them . . . I would text people and say, ‘Just so you know, this is what is going on.’ It got around baseball pretty quick.”

And it wasn’t just player-to-player chatter. The Oakland Athletics as a club reported it:

According to Lucroy, the Athletics informed Major League Baseball about their experience with the Astros, but no investigation was started until Fiers went on the record with The Athletic in November.

Athletics general manager David Forst confirmed to The Mercury News last week that Oakland complained to the league well before MLB’s investigation commenced.

That investigation did not commence until The Athletic ran its story in November. And Rob Manfred has still not given a satisfying explanation as to why that was. About why, when told about the Astros’ sign-stealing from an actual club, presumably with pretty dang specific information given that it was coming from Fiers, they did not act.

The only conclusion one can reach on that based on what we currently know is that Major League Baseball will only truly act once bad press forces them to, and the A’s reporting the sign-stealing scheme was not something that was reported in the press. Which is pretty sad.

Anyway, you should read Lucroy’s expanded comments on all of this. In them he goes on at length about how he and the pitchers he worked with would have to go crazy to try to change and hide their signs from the Astros and how much of a distraction it was. Which is to say that, in addition to the obvious way the Astros gained an advantage — knowing what pitch was coming — they disadvantaged the opposition by making them work extra hard to deal with the threat of their cheating.