Chicago Cubs may have done themselves a big favor

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

Given recent developments concerning the Houston Astros, it appears the Chicago Cubs may have made the right call in hiring David Ross.

The Houston Astros have been accused of electronically stealing signs dating back to some time during the 2017 season. MLB has launched an internal investigation into the matter, and ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that some members of the 2019 team may be involved as well.

A member of the 2017 World Series champion Astros, Carlos Beltran, was just hired as the new manager of the Mets. Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora and current Astros manager, AJ Hinch, have all been implicated in the sign-stealing involvement.

More from Cubbies Crib

Now, let’s be perfectly clear.  Current Astros bench coach Joe Espada has only been on the Houston staff since 2018, and before that spent time with the Marlins and the Yankees. He may not even be involved at all, but a coach that comes to an organization from the Astros doesn’t seem as desirable anymore given the new accusations, made public by former Houston pitcher Mike Fiers, who was on the World Series team.

Of course, the Chicago Cubs sat down with Espada twice regarding their managerial opening before hiring David Ross in late October. But with everything that’s come to light, Houston – once viewed as a model franchise around the league – no longer carries the same appeal.

When a breaking pitch was coming, a member of the Astros coaching staff would bang in the dugout to alert the hitter. The use of a center-field camera helped aid the sign stealing.

Sign stealing has long been a part of baseball, but it’s been limited simply to a player at second base giving a hand signal to relay the sign to the hitter. Stealing the signs through electronic means like the Astros have been accused of is a broader issue, and one that may be widespread in baseball.

Multiple players have reportedly accused the Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers of electronic sign stealing as well, according to Jeff Jones, a St. Louis beat writer.

To back up the numbers, the Astros had a 136 wRC+ at Minute Maid Park in 2019, and just 114 on the road. Both numbers are very good, but that’s quite the split. The Brewers had a 102 wRC+ at home in 2019, compared to just 92 on the road.

For reference, the Yankees had a 117 wRC+ at Yankee Stadium in 2017 and 101 on the road. For 2019, the Yankees had a 112 wRC+ at home, and 120 on the road, so they may be in the clear on this sign-stealing stuff – it’s hard to tell.

It’s unfair to assume cheating in any of these cases, but the Astros and Brewers have such a stark difference that something could be up, and now there have been people coming forward with strong accusations.

Major League Baseball has never dealt with something like this on such a large scale like they may potentially be doing now, so it’s hard to say what the punishment for electronic sign stealing is.

Next. Comparing Bryant and Alonso's rookie seasons. dark

However, it’s good the Cubs don’t have to face the potential repercussions for Espada or even deal with the headache of the cloud hanging over the organization. Who’s to say any Astros-related employee or former employee wouldn’t lose their position over this?