Luhnow discusses hacking investigation
Jeff Luhnow, general manager of the Astros, spoke on Wednesday about the FBI and Justice Department investigation into allegations that the Cardinals may have obtained unauthorized access to Houston's computer system, which includes proprietary information regarding player personnel and evaluation. Luhnow, a former St. Louis executive, said the entire incident has felt like a violation.
"At the time when it happened a year ago, it was like coming home and seeing your house has been broken into," Luhnow told Sports Illustrated. "You feel violated when someone does that without permission. As far as whether it affected our ability to execute our plan? It's difficult to assess the effect, but we have continued to execute our plan and we are making progress. I had to call the other 29 GMs and apologize that private notes our organization had made had been made public. Those were not fun calls to make. But I've made several trades since then, and I've had no problems getting anybody on the phone."
The federal investigation, first reported on by the New York Times on Tuesday, centers around whether the Cardinals used illegal methods to access the Astros' scouting and medical reports in addition to their statistical projections. The first sign of a breach came in June 2014 when months of Houston's internal conversation were leaked online. Luhnow, a Cardinals executive from 2003 until the Astros hired him to be their GM in 2011, told Sports Illustrated that one thing is certain: However the hackers gained access to the Houston database, they did not use any of his old passwords.
"That's absolutely false," Luhnow said. "I absolutely know about password hygiene and best practices. I'm certainly aware of how important passwords are, as well as of the importance of keeping them updated. A lot of my job in baseball, as it was in high tech, is to make sure that intellectual property is protected. I take that seriously and hold myself and those who work for me to a very high standard."
Luhnow said he did not use any proprietary information from the Cardinals when he began constructing Houston's new infrastructure. And he also said that even if he had, by this point it would be outdated because of how quickly data moves in today's game.
"If you were to take a snapshot of the database of one team, within a month it would not be useful anymore, because things change so quickly," he said of today's detailed analytics. "Not to mention that the types of analysis you would do back in 2011, versus 2012 or '13 , is evolving so quickly because of new tools like PitchFX and Statcast™. I wouldn't trust another team's analysis even if I had it."
Luhnow also addressed reports that he left the Cardinals on less than favorable terms when he ascended to the top spot in Houston's baseball brain trust. That couldn't be further from the truth, he told Sports Illustrated.
"I actually got along very well with everybody with the Cardinals," he said. "I was friendly with the people I left behind there. A lot of them came to my wedding, when I got married in January 2012. The owner, the general manager, the assistant general manager, other executives, scouts were at my wedding. This wasn't a bad breakup. It was a happy promotion of a person to a higher position in another organization."