FBI Probe into Cards’ Access of Astros System

Unidentified St. Louis Cardinals front office personnel allegedly entered a Houston Astros internal baseball operations system.

The intertwined relationship between the St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros has now become a federal matter.

Initially reported by the New York Times, unidentified Cardinals front office officials are being investigated by the FBI and Justice Department for accessing information from an internal Astros baseball operations database.

The alleged activity began in 2013 and became a public matter when the website Deadspin published leaked Astros internal communications regarding player evaluation and potential trades last June.

A follow-up investigation led to a Florida home reportedly used by several Cardinals officials. The Times article suggests the leaks were intended to embarrass Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow and his staff.

Luhnow, a former Cardinals vice president (pictured above with St. Louis executives John Vuch and John Mozeliak in 2010), had run St. Louis’ successful scouting and player development organizations before leaving for Houston’s top job in December 2011. He brought along a number of staffers and led the development of internal systems similar to those used in St. Louis.

This 2014 Houston Chronicle article introduces the Astros’ proprietary database, called “Ground Control”. It is believed to be the system breached. Key Astros executives highlighted in the article, Sig Mejdal, director of decision sciences and Mike Elias, amateur scouting director, are among the ex-Cardinals employees working under Luhnow.

In this Scout members-only story from February 2013 titled, “Houston Astros, aka St. Louis Cardinals South”, I identified 16 former Cardinals employees then with the Astros. They included Luhnow himself, front office personnel, scouts, coaches and players. Some have left since, but others have been hired in the interim.

On Tuesday morning, first Major League Baseball, then both teams, released statements regarding the investigation. There is no information as of yet on specific individuals allegedly involved and potential ramifications.

From Major League Baseball

“Major League Baseball has been aware of and has fully cooperated with the federal investigation into the illegal breach of the Astros’ baseball operations database. Once the investigative process has been completed by federal law enforcement officials, we will evaluate the next steps and will make decisions promptly.”

From the Cardinals

“The St. Louis Cardinals are aware of the investigation into the security breach of the Houston Astros’ database. The team has fully cooperated with the investigation and will continue to do so. Given that this is an ongoing federal investigation, it is not appropriate for us to comment further.”

From the Astros

“The Houston Astros are actively cooperating with an ongoing federal investigation. We cannot comment on this matter.”

Tuesday Update

The Cardinals issued the following on Tuesday afternoon.

The St. Louis Cardinals Chairman and CEO William O. DeWitt Jr., and Cardinals Sr. VP & General Manager John Mozeliak this morning shared their thoughts regarding Tuesday’s news of a federal investigation of the club related to a possible security breach of the Houston Astros’ database.

“These are serious allegations that don’t reflect who we are as an organization,” DeWitt said. “We are committed to getting to the bottom of this matter as soon as possible, and if anyone within our organization is determined to be involved in anything inappropriate, they will be held accountable.”

DeWitt said that several months ago, after the team was made aware of the allegations, he and Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak engaged Jim Martin and the law firm of Dowd Bennett to assist the team in providing requested information to the federal government and to conduct an internal inquiry to attempt to identify any employee that may have engaged in the alleged conduct.

“The alleged conduct has no place in our game,” Mozeliak said. “We hold ourselves to the highest standards in every facet of our organization. It has been that way forever and is certainly true today. We are committed to finding out what happened. To the extent we can substantiate that these allegations have merit, we will take appropriate action against anyone involved.”

“The internal inquiry is not yet complete,” said Martin. “In the meantime, we wish to respect the process and avoid saying anything which would interfere with the government's investigation.”

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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