Houston Astros fire team’s manager, general manager after Major League Baseball cheating scheme investigation

Tanya Simon
January 14, 2020

Not Astros owner Jim Crane, who made the appropriate decision to fire general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch after baseball suspended both for the 2020 season, but presided over an organization marred by poor communication and a win-at-all-costs culture.

That fine prompted commissioner Rob Manfred to issue a memo to all teams clarifying the rules around technology: "Thus, all Clubs were put on notice as of September 15, 2017 that any use of electronic equipment to steal signs would be dealt with more severely by my office, " the report reads.

Manfred said MLB's investigation covered the period from 2016 through the present, comprised of interviews with 68 witnesses, including 23 current and former Astros players.

■ It started at the beginning of the 2017 season, which ended with the Astros winning the World Series. Brandon Taubman, fired as Houston's assistant GM during the the 2019 ALCS for his outburst against female reporters in the Houston locker room, was suspended for a year. He also said he knows that the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox have also used film to "pick signs".

But Crane doesn't believe this whole ordeal takes anything away from the 2017 pennant.

No players were penalized even though Mets rookie manager Carlos Beltran, who finished his playing career with the Astros, was mentioned in the report as helping to set up the Astros' cheating system. The Red Sox won't want their manager's suspension hanging over them for a full season, nor do they want an interim manager who is merely keeping the seat warm until 2021.

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■ Cora is the one exception to the scheme largely being conducted by players.

"Assessing discipline of players for this type of conduct is both hard and impractical", Manfred said.

Former Astros P Mike Fiers told Rosenthal that Astros video staff would monitor a camera feed from centerfield, an attempt to decode the signs between the pitcher and catcher.

When the sign sequence was decoded, a player in the video replay room would act as a "runner" to pass along the information to the dugout, according to the findings.

Manfred, however, said there was evidence that said he was aware of it. Hinch told Major League Baseball investigators that he knew it was going on and was against it, but did nothing to stop it. At times, an employee in the replay room would convey the information by text message to the watch or phone of a staff member in the dugout. "While the evidence consistently showed I didn't endorse or participate in the sign stealing practices, I failed to stop them and am deeply sorry".

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