Mike Fiers

Rob Manfred says Astros whistleblower Mike Fiers did MLB 'a service'

Rob Manfred says Astros whistleblower Mike Fiers did MLB 'a service'

Rob Manfred didn't love Trevor Bauer calling him "a clown," but the MLB commissioner and the Extremely Online Cincinnati Reds pitcher agree on one thing. 

A's pitcher Mike Fiers was right to lift the lid on the Houston Astros' trash-can-and-video-camera-powered cheating scandal. 

“Mike Fiers, in my view, did the industry a service,” Manfred told ESPN's Karl Ravech in a sit-down interview released Sunday (H/T New York Post). “He opened the door here. Without that opening of the door, we would not have been able to conduct the effective investigation that we did. We would not have been able to impose the disciplines that were imposed. We would not have been able to probably take the prophylactic measures that we’re gonna take with respect to 2020, and it’s important -- painful, but important -- that we clean all that up.”

Fiers told The Athletic in November that the Astros used a camera in center field to record and steal opposing catchers' signs en route to Houston's 2017 World Series title. Those signs would then be relayed to an Astros batter when his teammates or team employees banged on a garbage can. 

The Astros acquired Fiers in a midseason trade that year, and he signed with the Detroit Tigers the following offseason. Fiers told the Tigers about the scheme and later told the A's following a 2018 trade to Oakland. 

Fiers faced criticism from some in baseball, including television analysts Jessica Mendoza and Pedro Martinez, for whistleblowing and breaking what Manfred referred to as the "cone of silence" coming from the clubhouse. Carlos Correa, Fiers' former Astros teammate, said the pitcher should be "man enough" to clear Jose Altuve of the spreading insinuation his 2017 AL MVP was tainted by Houston's cheating. 

The pitcher didn't say that Altuve was when he first revealed the scheme to The Athletic back in November, and he told the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser on Sunday that the Astros "cheated as a team" in 2017. 

[RELATED: Manfred explains why Astros players haven't been punished]

Fiers will see his former teammates for the first time since going public when the Astros visit the A's in Oakland on March 30. The A's, then, will first play in Houston on April 24.

Don't bet on the fans at Minute Maid Park being as understanding as their Coliseum counterparts or the commissioner. 

Rob Manfred explains why he didn't strip Astros' World Series, punish players

Rob Manfred explains why he didn't strip Astros' World Series, punish players

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred defended his punishments for the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal during their World Series-winning 2017 season, and his decision to grant players immunity for cooperating with the league's investigation. 

In an interview with ESPN's Karl Ravech that aired Sunday, Manfred explained why he didn't punish Astros players. 

"I understand people's desire to have the players pay a price for what went on here," Manfred said. "I think if you watch the players, watch their faces when they have to deal with this issue publicly, they have paid a price. To think they're skipping down the road into spring training, happy, that's just a mischaracterization of where we are.

"Having said that, the desire to have actual discipline imposed on them, I understand it and in a perfect world, it would have happened. We ended up where we ended up in pursuit of really, I think, the most important goal of getting the facts and getting them out there for people to know it."

Manfred suspended manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for a year without pay. Hours after their suspensions, Astros owner Jim Crane fired Hinch and Luhnow last month. The Astros also lost four MLB draft picks and were fined $5 million. 

While there has been an outcry for harsher punishments, Manfred previously has stated he has no plans of stripping the Astros of their World Series title. He also further explained in his interview with Ravech why there haven't been punishments handed down on the players. 

Manfred told Ravech that disciplining players likely would have resulted in grievances from the Major League Baseball Players Association. The commissioner cited Luhnow's failure to communicate to the Astros' players the contents of a 2017 memorandum outlining MLB's policy on the use of technology.

"Well, they just didn't do it. It's in my report. The memorandum went to the general manager, and then nothing was done from the GM down," Manfred said. "So we knew if we had disciplined the players in all likelihood we were going to have grievances and grievances that we were going to lose on the basis that we never properly informed them of the rules. Given those two things, No. 1, I knew where, or I'm certain where the responsibilities should lay in the first instance and given the fact we didn't think we could make discipline stick with the players, we made the decision we made.

"Having said that, I understand the reaction. The players, some of them in a more articulate way than others, have said, admitted they did the wrong thing. And I understand that people want to see them punished for that, and in a perfect world, they would have been punished."

[RELATED: Fiers says Astros 'cheated as a team' in response to Correa]

Manfred says he understands all the reactions that have come against himself and the Astros alike. Though he won't be punishing players or taking the Astros' title away, Manfred did insist new rules are coming for the 2020 season regarding the usage of technology. 

"No question we'll have a new policy before the 2020 season," Manfred said. "I don't deny video can help you perform if you have access to it during the game, but a golfer can't come off the sixth and take a look at his swing. ... We're going to have to live with less access to live video in and around the dugout and clubhouse."

Again, this story isn't over. Manfred will address media later Sunday at 1:30 p.m. PT.

A's Mike Fiers won't respond to Carlos Correa, says Astros 'cheated as a team'

A's Mike Fiers won't respond to Carlos Correa, says Astros 'cheated as a team'

As the story keeps unfolding on the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal, A's pitcher Mike Fiers is trying to move on. 

When asked Sunday by the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser if he wants to respond to Astros shortstop Carlos Correa saying Fiers "should be man enough" to say Houston second baseman Jose Altuve didn't use the team's trash can method, the A's pitcher declined to comment. But he did add one quote as he walked away. 

"We [the Astros] cheated as a team," Fiers said to Slusser.

Of all the Astros players, Correa has been the most outspoken and the most remorseful in recent days. But he also has come to the defense of Altuve.

"Mike Fiers know that [Jose] Altuve didn't use the trash can," Correa said Saturday to reporters. "You guys are gonna find out because I'm sure somebody is gonna ask him, and he's gonna tell everybody.

"If he's man enough to tell the truth and tell his story and break this story, he should be man enough to say that the MVP of 2017 didn't use it."

Fiers, who played on the Astros during the 2017 season when Houston electronically stole signs and won the World Series, originally broke the story in an interview with The Athletic. The veteran pitcher signed with the Detroit Tigers after the 2017 season and was traded to the A's in August 2018. He told both the Tigers and A's about the Astros' sign-stealing concoctions. 

Slusser reported Wednesday that A's manager Bob Melvin said the A's had called MLB about the Astros cheating allegations prior to Fiers going on record. MLB, however, didn't do anything until Fiers went public. 

[RELATED: A's contacted MLB about Astros cheating]

Astros players received immunity for cooperating with the league's investigation, but manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for a year without pay. Hours after their suspensions, Astros owner Jim Crane fired Hinch and Lunhow. 

This story clearly isn't going away as spring training is underway. Fiers, however, seems focused on the A's and the upcoming season.