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Dodgers Dugout: What should be done about the Houston Asterisks, I mean, Astros?

NLDS Dodgers Nationals Baseball
Your 2019 NL MVP, Cody Bellinger.
(Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and I’m looking back at my fond memories of the 2017 World Series champion Dodgers.

Astros are a bunch of cheaters

Were you living under a rock and missed the news? The Houston Astros (allegedly) stole signs throughout the 2017 postseason, the season in which they defeated the Dodgers in the World Series.

Last week, an article published on the Athletic website contends that the Astros stole signs electronically — an illegal practice — during the 2017 season. Two people told the Athletic that the Astros’ use of the system extended into the 2017 playoffs. Another person denied that, saying the system ended before the postseason.

The story describes how the Astros relayed catchers’ signs in real time at home games using a camera in the outfield and a monitor placed in a tunnel between their dugout and clubhouse. A noise from the dugout (some say banging a garbage can, some say whistling) would then help the batter know what pitch was coming. Mike Fiers, a pitcher on the Astros that season, confirmed the system’s existence.

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There is a ton of circumstantial evidence out there to look at, from videos where you can hear banging or whistling while Astros are batting, to pictures of a laptop/trash can setup near the dugout.

The Astros were 8-1 at home in the 2017 postseason and 3-6 on the road. It’s also important to note that during the season, the Astros had a better road record (53-28) than home record (48-33).

Major League Baseball is investigating the allegations and the Astros say they are cooperating.

So, let’s say for a moment the allegations are true. That the Astros stole signs electronically and that everyone was in on it. There has been a lot of speculation as to what kind of punishment they should receive. Here’s what I have seen:

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2017 World Series title awarded to the Dodgers: This isn’t happening. For one thing, if the Astros did cheat, then they also cheated to defeat the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS and the New York Yankees in the ALCS. If you give the title to the Dodgers, what do you do for those teams? Plus, the thrill is in the moment you win the title. The Astros and their fans will always have the thrill of that moment no matter what. The Dodgers and their fans won’t get that moment.

Vacate the World Series title: This is a possibility, but I don’t see it happening.

Take away draft picks: This is a strong possibility.

Ban them from the postseason this season: Make all 162 games basically meaningless? I just don’t see this scenario taking place.

Bar them from signing free agents for a year or two: Possible. But does this take away opportunity for free agents who want to play for Houston?

Suspend everyone knowingly involved: How does that work? If it turns out Alex Cora, who was a coach for the Astros, was involved, well, he’s now managing the Red Sox. Do you suspend him and punish Boston too? What about players that are now on other teams? These are all things that have to be considered.

And there are other punishments people have been mentioned.

The sad part of it is that the Astros were good enough to win without cheating. They won Game 7 on the road against the Dodgers. Now, no matter what MLB finds, everyone will consider their only title to be tainted.

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As for Dodgers fans, well, this seems typical. If it’s not the ’51 Giants, it’s the Astros. Just add it to Dodgers lore.

So what would you do? If the allegations are true, would you do one of the above? A combination of them? Click here to vote in our poll and let me know. I will run the results in a future newsletter.

Awards

As expected, Cody Bellinger won the 2019 NL MVP award.

“It’s just a dream come true, man,” Bellinger said. “You play the game as a kid, you dream of it, but you literally never think that it’s going to be you in this position.

“This award, man, makes me so much hungrier to keep performing. The feeling that you have, why would you ever want to not feel this?”

Bellinger received 19 first-place votes and 362 points. Christian Yelich of Milwaukee finished second with 10 first-place votes and 327 points. Anthony Rendon of Washington was third with one first-place vote and 242 points. You can see the complete results by clicking here.

Voting took place after the regular season and before the postseason.

Now, you can make an argument that Bellinger shouldn’t have won. I can certainly understand voting for Yelich over him. But one voter had Bellinger fifth on his ballot (every other voter had him first or second). I just can’t see an argument for him finishing fifth.

For NL Cy Young, Hyun-Jin Ryu finished second behind Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets. That bad August Ryu had sunk his chances. DeGrom received 29 of 30 first-place votes and 207 points. Ryu got the other first-place vote and 88 points. You can see the complete voting by clicking here.

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The big question now is, will the Dodgers re-sign Ryu? Andrew Friedman discussed that:

“There are always discussions,” Friedman said. “I think with all talented players available in the marketplace, it’s our job to have conversations. So, I think it’s safe to assume there are conversations [regarding Ryu] — and just the amount of respect we have for him.”

Friedman also said that Julio Urias will be in the rotation next season. Giving the Dodgers, as of this moment, a rotation of Urias, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and Kenta Maeda. It looks like the fifth spot will be a battle among Ross Stripling, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin.

That’s if the Dodgers don’t spend big money to sign free-agent Gerrit Cole. But the Dodgers haven’t opened the vault for any free agent the last few seasons, so I see no reason that they would suddenly decide to change course.

“We just don’t have hard-and-fast rules,” Friedman said. “We’re open to different avenues and different levers of how to get better. And I can’t sit here right now and tell you what that means because I don’t know.”

Odds and ends

The Dodgers are apparently among several teams pursuing free-agent third baseman Josh Donaldson, who hit .259/.379/.521 with 37 home runs in 155 games with the Atlanta Braves last season. If they do sign him, it could mean Justin Turner moves to first base and Max Muncy to second. Which leaves Gavin Lux out of the mix. But we can cross that bridge if the Dodgers actually sign Donaldson.

Khristopher Negron, who filled in admirably during the season when the team was his with a slew of injuries, announced his retirement last week. Negron his .259 in 30 games, playing six different positions.

And finally

Watch Bellinger’s live reaction to winning the MVP award. Click here to watch. I’ll be back soon to start our “Where are they now?” series. Until then, I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. Also, follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston. Here’s how to subscribe to this newsletter.


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