Boston Red Sox

Joe Girardi defends himself against sign-stealing video – 'We caught them,' he says

Joe Girardi defends himself against sign-stealing video – 'We caught them,' he says

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The story that won’t go away wended its way through Phillies camp Thursday in the form of a 22-second video of Joe Girardi talking about illicit sign-stealing.

The video was plucked from a segment on sign-stealing that Girardi participated in during his time with the MLB Network. It was taped in mid-October, just before he was named Phillies manager.

In the video, analyst and former big-league pitcher Al Leiter asks Girardi, “What did you guys use?”

https://twitter.com/joshstros/status/1230191939678605314?s=21

The question is accompanied by some laughs but it’s clear that Leiter is asking what means the New York Yankees used to pick up signs during Girardi’s time as manager of that club from 2008 to 2017.

Girardi responds by saying, “I was part of a system …” He then explains how signs were detected “upstairs” and relayed down to the dugout and field.

At first blush, it sounds rather incriminating. 

Until you hear how Girardi punctuates his comment.

“We eventually caught it,” he says in the video.

Girardi knew the video had been making the rounds — he said it made him laugh — and was prepared to answer questions about it after Thursday's workout.

“If people listen to the whole video, you can put 2 and 2 together and know what I’m talking about,” he said. “We caught them.”

Caught who?

There was a long pause.

“Put 2 and 2 together,” he said.

The implication was that Girardi was talking about the Houston Astros, who were nailed for illegal sign-stealing during the 2017 season. The Astros eliminated Girardi’s Yankees in the ALCS that season and went on to win the World Series.

But he may have been talking about the Boston Red Sox, an AL East rival of the Yankees, who are also under investigation for stealing signs illegally.

Who knows?

As fallout from the cheating scandal has engulfed baseball in the early weeks of spring training, Girardi has been mostly reserved while speaking with Philadelphia reporters about the topic. The emergence of the MLB Network video resulted in him being more expansive Thursday.

Girardi was asked about his saying, “I was part of a system” in the video.

“Yeah, the system was our system caught the other group,” he said. “If you listen to the whole video, we caught the other team. It was coming from upstairs to someone in the dugout and then relayed one way or another. I laugh because people are cutting it up and trying to make it something.

“It wasn’t our team doing it. We caught the other team doing it. And I think part of this is why the Commissioner has put out some of these rules and I think it’s important that we protect the integrity of the game because that is really important to me.”

Girardi was asked if his team reported the violating team to MLB.

“As a manager, I personally don’t, but that doesn’t mean that the team I was on didn’t,” he said.

The video dealt extensively with the importance of teams protecting their signs from being stolen and that has been a theme of Girardi’s first camp with the Phillies.

“A lot of people want to talk about what happened in 2017, ‘18, ’19,” he said. “No. It’s what we do moving forward, guys, that’s important to me.

“It’s complicated in a lot of manners and guarding your signs is really difficult today with all the cameras and everything you can see. So you have to be really clever. It’s hard.”

MLB is expected to come up with tighter guidelines regarding access to video around the dugout before opening day. One possible solution would be locking down the video room at game time. But that comes with complications because teams need access to instant replay to challenge umpire calls.

“I don’t know if I’ve thought through it enough because I know players like watching their at-bats,” Girardi said. “I think the replay room has caused a lot of consequences that they did not foresee. And I’m a proponent of replay. I think it’s important. But there’s some consequences that I don’t know any of us foresaw as we put this is in because it’s usually right next to the video room."

One potential solution is barring players from watching video during the games — it seemed to work OK for Ted Williams and Mike Schmidt — and moving those who keep tabs on potential replay challenges upstairs to the press/broadcast level.

Girardi said he wouldn’t mind if those who oversee replay challenges moved upstairs but he’s not sure about closing off the video room to players.

“I don’t know what the right answer is because players like watching their at-bats,” he said.

Subscribe and rate Phillies Talk:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

More on the Phillies

Why a Mookie Betts trade for Phillies was never realistic

Why a Mookie Betts trade for Phillies was never realistic

Mookie Betts will be a Dodger, if you've been asleep for the last 16 hours. There was immense pressure on L.A. to make a splash after seven consecutive division titles failed to result in a World Series win and this certainly qualifies as a major needle-mover.

The deal, which reportedly sends Betts and David Price from Boston to L.A. and outfielder Alex Verdugo to the Red Sox (among other moving parts), affects the Phillies in a couple ways.

First and foremost, it keeps Betts away from another wild-card contender. The Dodgers are going to win the NL West barring a shocking series of events. The Padres were also hot after Betts and that would have hurt the Phillies more because it would have made San Diego a bigger threat in the wild-card race.

The Phils' most likely path to the playoffs is a wild-card spot so this is a good thing for them.

The other point worth addressing here is why the Phillies were unable themselves to swing a deal for Betts. The reaction of many fans has been, "Why couldn't the Phils take on Price's money to acquire Betts like the Dodgers did?"

The easy, simple thing to do right now is continue the theme of blasting ownership for not exceeding the luxury tax threshold. It's disingenuous. It's flat-out wrong to think money was the only factor here.

First of all, the Phillies do not have a major-league-ready, young, inexpensive player like Verdugo, who hit .294/.342/.475 last season with 22 doubles and 12 homers in 377 plate appearances. Scott Kingery is not at his level, plus Kingery has already been paid, unlike Verdugo.

To acquire Betts without taking on Price's contract, the Phillies would have had to part with top-shelf prospects and they just don't have the depth to be trading away top young players for a one-year rental.

To acquire Betts while helping Boston out with the Price contract, the Phillies still would have had to part with a player as good as Verdugo or better. Who would that have been? It might have still had to be an Alec Bohm or Spencer Howard. For a one-year rental. To do that, you need to know you're getting years and years of Betts, who wants to hit free agency. 

Financially, the reason the Phillies had little chance of acquiring Betts is the same reason the Red Sox probably felt they had to trade Betts: Years of bad contracts still on the books have created an inflexible situation. In Boston, it was Price and Nate Eovaldi and maybe even the Chris Sale contract. In Philly, Jake Arrieta, David Robertson and Jean Segura combine for $50.75 million in 2020 from a luxury tax perspective. Yes, Arrieta and Robertson are off the books after 2020 ... but so is Betts!

The luxury tax number for Betts and Price in 2020, combined, is $58 million. So if the Phillies made this trade and assumed all of the remaining money, their payroll would have jumped to right around $260 million, plus a luxury tax payment of about $11 million. In the history of baseball, one team has had an opening day payroll higher than $260M, the 2015 Dodgers.

So, yes, duh, Betts would have made the 2020 Phillies a helluva lot better. But it would have also cost a top prospect for a player they may have not been able to re-sign. And it would have likely resulted in the second-highest opening day payroll in MLB history. And it would have been for a team that, even with Betts, still may not have had enough depth in roster spots 10-through-26 to legitimately contend for a World Series. Would a Phillies team with Betts have more than a 50 percent chance to win its own division?

You can't sign or trade for everyone. The most realistic path to contention for the Phillies is not by further stripping down the farm system and adding another humongous salary. It's by having their top prospects graduate to the majors and supplement their existing veteran core. And the past failures of Domonic Brown or Phillippe Aumont have no bearing on the future success of Bohm and Howard. The 2020 Phillies cannot give up on their top prospects just because the city has been jaded by previous prospect failures.

Subscribe and rate Phillies Talk:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19

More on the Phillies

Another loss as Phillies continue to play their way out of NL wild-card picture

Another loss as Phillies continue to play their way out of NL wild-card picture

BOX SCORE

The Phillies continued to play their way out of National League wild-card picture on Sunday. They dropped a 6-3 decision to the Boston Red Sox, who completed a two-game interleague series sweep at Citizens Bank Park.

The loss dropped the Phillies to four games out of the second wild-card spot and they could be 4 ½ games out by the end of the day, depending on the outcome of the Chicago Cubs-Pittsburgh Pirates game in Chicago.

The Phils have just 14 games left.

Christian Vazquez paced Boston’s offense with a grand slam against starter Jason Vargas in the third inning.

The Phillies did not get much offense in the two-game series. They scored just four runs. (They lost Saturday night’s game, 2-1.) They had just 12 hits and only two of them were for extra bases. (Rhys Hoskins had them both, a double Saturday night and a homer Sunday.)

Phillies hitters also struck out 25 times in the two games.

Ouch.

Vargas’ day

For the second straight start, Vargas lasted just three innings. He hit a batter, gave up a single and a one-out walk before serving up the grand slam to Vazquez in the third. Vargas also made a throwing error that led to a run in the first inning.

The left-hander is not exactly providing a lift down the stretch. He has a 7.63 ERA in his last four starts and the Phillies have lost three of those games.

Booted

Bryce Harper was ejected in the fourth inning for giving home plate umpire Gabe Morales an earful from the dugout. Moments earlier, Morales had rung up Harper on a pitch outside the strike zone. He also missed a pitch in Harper’s first at-bat. Manager Gabe Kapler was also ejected after he came out of the dugout to protest Harper’s ejection. It was believed to be the first time in major-league history that a guy named Gabe ejected another guy named Gabe.

Harper’s second ejection of the season meant the Phillies were forced to play the remainder of the game without one of their top players, never a good thing with the season on the line — at least mathematically.

Harper was replaced in right field by September call-up Jose Pirela. Not long ago, the Phillies likely would have replaced Harper with Nick Williams. But Williams is hitting .157 and is buried so deeply on the bench it makes you wonder why he was added in September.

Dickerson still sore

Corey Dickerson was out of the starting lineup for a third straight game because of a sore left foot. Brad Miller got the start in left field. The Phillies have missed Dickerson’s bat. Added at the trade deadline, he drove in 34 runs in his first 33 games with the club.

A little too hospitable

The Phillies are just 11-21 all-time against the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park.

On the bright side, the Phils are 11-20 all-time at Fenway Park.

Wait a minute. There’s nothing bright about that.

Overall

The Phillies are 76-72. They need to win six of their final 14 games to have a winning season.

Up next

The Phillies are off on Monday. They open a three-game series in Atlanta against the Braves on Tuesday night.

Pitching matchups:

Tuesday night — RHP Vince Velasquez (6-7, 4.95) vs. LHP Dallas Keuchel (8-5, 3.35)

Wednesday night — RHP Zach Eflin (8-12, 4.20) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (10-9, 3.50)

Thursday afternoon — RHP Aaron Nola (12-5, 3.62) vs. RHP Mike Soroka (12-4, 2.47)

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies