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Is Miguel Tejada a cheater, and will Jose Valverde be an Astro after 2009?

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Pitch tipping allegations against Miguel Tejada have come to the forefront once again, and this time first base coach Jose Cruz is involved. Pirates closer Matt Capps believed that Tejada and Cruz were working in tandem to steal signs from the catcher during Tejada's ninth inning at-bat in yesterday's loss to Pittsburgh. After popping a pitch up for an out, Tejada and Capps barked at each other over what Capps believed to be a breaking of the rules. As Capps put it:

"Just compete," Capps told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after the game. "You don’t need to do any of that stuff. Those two have a thing going out there. I’m set, and he’s not even looking at me. That tells me all I need to know."

The whole scene is odd to me. Accusing a coach of cheating is a pretty staggering accusation, especially from someone like Matt Capps who isn't all the prominent within the game. After all the games that Tejada has played against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the past two years, why would:

1) Tejada choose that one at bat to attempt to try to steal a sign from a Pirate pitcher

2) if Tejada is a serial sign stealer/pitch tipper why would the Pirates choose to air their displeasure at this moment, and not earlier?

Considering how I've never heard of a first base coach aiding a player in cheating (not to say it never happens), I lean towards thinking that this is a paranoid pitcher who hasn't been all that good this season and would give up the only run in a close victory over the Astros.

Over the weekend, John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus, weighed in on Jose Valverde's impending free agency. No, he didn't take a jab at the Astros and Valverde for the age discrepancy issue, but he did offer a prognostication about Jose's future with the Astros:

Astros closer Jose Valverde plans to test the free-agent market at the end of the season, meaning he is likely as good as gone

After two brilliant seasons in Houston, Valverde should fetch quite a few offers from other big league teams. That doesn't mean, however, that those offers will be the big money deals other closers like Mariano Rivera, Frankie Rodriguez, BJ Ryan, Brian Fuentes and Brad Lidge have received in the recent past.

Which teams would be in the running for a closer? The Brewers signed Trevor Hoffman for a one year contract this season, but it remains to be seen whether or not they would want to make another free agent closer acquisition, especially given the fact that they are not going to be coming off a playoff appearance in 2010. A team like the Tampa Bay Rays definitely do not spend big bucks in free agency, but given their disappointing season and their bullpen's role in the team's struggles, a closer like Valverde may be worth shoring up the 'pen and stabilizing things a bit. Then again, the Rays have gone from doormats to contenders by making savvy moves, and signing a closer to a big contract goes against that line of thought. So we shall see...