The sign-stealing case against the Astros continues to grow.
In August 2017, as Houston prepared for the playoffs, a front office executive expressed the organization’s desire to steal signs in an email obtained by The Athletic. In the email, the executive asked Astros scouts to try to steal signs from the stands and suggested cameras could be used to do it.
“One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout,” the sender wrote in the 2017 email, which was provided to The Athletic. “What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can [or can’t] do and report back your findings.”
Though the email is not proof the Astros illegally stole signs, it comes on the heels of The Athletic report that said the team used a system involving a center-field camera at Minute Maid Park that was fixed on the opposing catcher’s signs. MLB is currently investigating the Astros’ alleged sign-stealing.
The exec discussed sign stealing with scouts through multiple channels of communication, according to the report, which said a number of scouts were disgusted and voiced their disagreement to management about the idea of using cameras to steal signs.
“Nobody wanted to do that, and take a chance of getting caught and ruining their reputation, not only as a scout but then even further damage what the Astros had going,” a person directly involved in the conversations said.
MLB rules prohibit the use of cameras or other electronic equipment to steal signs. Having scouts pick up signs from the stands, even with the help of binoculars, is allowed as long as they are not relayed to the dugout during that same game. Asking scouts to track signs from the stands is not unusual, according to the report, but one non-Astros scout called bringing up the used of cameras as something that “crosses the line.”
Former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers has gone on record saying the club illegally stole signs using the center-field camera. Other ex-Houston players, however, such as current Mets manager Carlos Beltran, have said the team stole signs within the rules.