Former big-league catcher Erik Kratz, who retired after spending last season with the New York Yankees, accused the 2018 Colorado Rockies of a sign-stealing system reminiscent of what the Houston Astros were punished for during a podcast appearance with YES Network.
Kratz made the allegations during the latest episode of YES Network's "Curtain Call" podcast. (You can access the podcast by clicking here.) Kratz alleged that the Rockies used a television monitor to steal their opponents' signs in real time, and that they would relay their intel to their hitters by banging on a metal bench with a Theragun massage device.
"The Colorado Rockies were doing the exact same thing in 2018, and we caught them, and we played them in the playoffs," said Kratz, a member of the Milwaukee Brewers team that knocked off the Rockies in the NLDS, according to NJ.com's Brendan Kuty. "They used to take a Theragun and bang it on their metal bench. And they were doing the exact same thing, from the TV. So, there you go. "
The general rule of thumb with sign-stealing is that teams are all right with it provided the opposition uses their own eyes and ears to decode the signs. Once technology is introduced, usually in the form of television monitors, it becomes a no-no. Hence the Astros' controversy and hence Kratz's apparent distaste with the Rockies' alleged operation.
Kratz added during the interview that he knew of two other teams who were doing something similar to what the Rockies and the Astros were doing, however, he did not name them. He also offered his thoughts on why the Astros have had it held against them more so than other teams. "The difference is, the Astros may have taken it a little too far. Maybe a little bit too far. Maybe continued to do it. Or maybe it's just the fact that they won the World Series and everybody's pissed about that."
The Astros, of course, were fined $5 million (the maximum under Major League Baseball's Constitution) and were stripped of consecutive first- and second-round draft picks. Commissioner Rob Manfred also suspended general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch for a season, though both were subsequently fired by the franchise. (Hinch has since resurfaced as manager of the Detroit Tigers.)
Kratz spent part of 11 seasons in the majors with nine teams. He hit .209/.256/.355 (65 OPS+), but he received high marks for his defense and staff-handling.