In a bombshell report by The Athletic on Tuesday, four former members of the Houston Astros organization, including pitcher Mike Fiers, claimed that the team routinely used a video camera position in the outfield at Minute Maid Park to steal signs during the team’s World Series-winning season of 2017.
The Astros have been accused several times over the past few seasons of been using illicit sign-stealing tactics, including by former White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar who believes he caught the Astros in the act banging on a trash can every time he was about to throw an off-speed pitch. (Video with audio appearing to confirm his suspicions can be viewed here.)
Another player, former reliever Carson Smith, who pitched in 108 games for the Red Sox and Mariners from 2014 to 2018, has also now come forward to levy accusations at the Astros for illegal sign-stealing.
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“In the article about the Astros stealing signs, they forgot to mention the bullpen catcher also relaying in signs for specific batters specific ways. Astros went to extreme measures, undoubtedly still do, and it’s paid off for them,” Smith tweeted on Tuesday. “It was also sketchy when the security guards/Crawford box scorekeepers kept constantly checking on our bullpen and looking up at the tv that coincidentally wasn’t working for us that series.”
“To be clear, the tv’s in the bullpen (many parks have ‘pen tv’s) will send you a game feed but is delayed by 5 seconds or so. None approved by the MLB give you a true live feed,” he added.
To be clear, the tv’s in the bullpen (many parks have ‘pen tv’s) will send you a game feed but is delayed by 5 seconds or so. None approved by the MLB give you a true live feed.
— Carson Smith (@Carson_Smith39) November 13, 2019
Smith’s accusations are obviously harder to confirm than Farquhar’s due to the video of his situation being available, but it certainly doesn’t help the Astros’ case. Especially when it comes from a pitcher who actually succeeded against Houston (Smith had a 1.98 ERA in 14 appearances versus Houston with 22 strikeouts and just one walk while the ‘Stros his just .184 off him.)
Tuesday evening, after the allegations surfaced, former Astros outfielder Carlos Beltran, who was a member of Houston’s 2017 championship team, claimed he knew nothing of a camera being used, but did admit players used video to “study” opposing pitchers for “small details to take advantage.”
The Astros also issued a statement on Tuesday, writing, “Regarding the story posted by The Athletic earlier today, the Houston Astros organization has begun an investigation in cooperation with Major League Baseball. It would not be appropriate to comment further on this matter at this time.”
Major League Baseball is expected to meet at some point with the team’s recently fired assistant general manager Brandon Taubman to discuss the reported “toxic” nature of the culture of the Astros franchise.