Astros' shocking fall from grace continues with firings of AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow

Astros' shocking fall from grace continues with firings of AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow

Astros owner Jim Crane did the right thing. The punishment handed down by MLB in response to Houston's sign-stealing scandal was surprisingly light, but about an hour after the news broke, Crane rectified it.

Manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow — two of the most successful men in baseball over the last five years — were fired. Both had been given one-year suspensions by MLB.

One year? With what enforcement? This would have been really weird. Was MLB going to periodically check the text messages of Hinch, Luhnow and their staffs to ensure Hinch and Luhnow weren't still running things?

Crane circumvented any awkwardness now and in the future by firing both men. He did what he had to do. You need to be able to trust your top decision-makers and the faces of your organization. If you win a championship you want it to mean something, not be marred like the Astros' title is now. There was deceit involved in all of this, from a team that might not have even needed to be deceitful to win it all.

What an incredible fall from grace. Less than three years ago, the Astros were the toast of baseball, the model franchise. But the most successful period in their history will forever have a black mark. 

The Astros were also docked their first- and second-round picks in both 2020 and 2021. And Brandon Taubman, a top candidate for Tool of the Year in 2019, was placed on MLB's ineligible list.

Keep in mind, though, that those first-round picks figure to be low because of how good the Astros are. From 2000 through 2010, less than 35 percent of players drafted 26th through 30th even made the majors. That's probably where the Astros will be. The combination of all four picks? That could be meaningful toward the middle of the decade. 

Hinch played four games as a Phillie in 2004, his final season in the majors. He spent five seasons as Astros manager and won 101, 103 and 107 games in his last three years. He is well-respected around the game and will find another managerial job at some point. There was a stark contrast in the statements released by both men, with Hinch wearing it and Luhnow passing the blame to others, including "lower-level employees."

The Phillies are in Houston to face the Astros July 7-9. 

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First look at a 'big' change to Phillies jerseys for 2020

First look at a 'big' change to Phillies jerseys for 2020

The Philadelphia Phillies uniforms will look slightly different for the upcoming 2020 season.

That’s because Major League Baseball’s official jersey provider has changed from Majestic Athletic to Nike for the foreseeable future.

That means a swoosh on every MLB player’s chest.

According to sources at sportslogos.net, the jerseys for the 2020 season are, "simply a re-branded version of last season’s Majestic jersey.”

Phillies fans got their first look at the new swoosh on the red pinstripes on Monday when the team held a press conference to introduce Didi Gregorius and Zack Wheeler. Both players received the classic Phillies home jerseys that we’ve all come to know and love except for that one big (small) new difference: the swoosh.

The new swoosh is seemingly small and nondescript, but at the same time can be quite jarring to the eye, almost resembling an accent above the ‘P’ and the ‘h’ in “Phillies.”

What do you think of the new look? Much ado about a small little check mark? Or a big deal with the check over (red pin)stripes? Either way, expect to see more Nike jerseys at Citizens Bank Park this coming season.

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Rhys Hoskins stoked for early Zack Wheeler gift from Santa Klentak, Mets fans irate

Rhys Hoskins stoked for early Zack Wheeler gift from Santa Klentak, Mets fans irate

Christmas came early for free-agent pitcher Zack Wheeler in the form of a five-year, $118 million contract from the Philadelphia Phillies.

But Wheeler isn't the only one to celebrate today. His new teammates are also stoked about the addition of a hard-throwing righty to follow Aaron Nola in the rotation.

First baseman Rhys Hoskins took to Twitter to share his excitement about Santa coming early this year.

While Philadelphia seems quite pleased with the move, we thought it only fair to check in with New York Mets fans to see how they felt about their former starter joining a division rival.

They're taking it ... not so well over at the Metsrefugees.com message board. A sampling:

This is the worst possible scenario

lol of course. He's gonna dominate the Mets now.

We deserve this.

And one more **** *** to Brodie and the Wilpons for not signing this man -- who badly wanted to stay here -- to a much cheaper extension a year ago, when they had the chance. I hope he makes them pay for that decision. Sincerely. Best of luck to Zack.

This infuriates me

So things are going well in New York this holiday season, which is nice.

But it's not all sunshine and rainbows in the NL East. The Atlanta Braves got some Cole (Hamels) before Christmas.

Plenty of shopping days remain. Will Matt Klentak and John Middleton really go crazy this year, blow through the luxury tax, and show up to spring training with a new Stephen Strasburg with a red bow on 'em?

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