High-level executives of the Cardinals were not involved in the hacking of the Houston Astros’ player personnel database, an attorney hired by the team said Wednesday while citing an internal review.
The Cardinals said they retained the Dowd Bennett firm for a review several months before this week’s disclosure that the FBI is investigating whether the team hacked into the Astros’ computer system that is used to track players and prospects.
"With what we have done so far, I am 100 percent confident that this does not touch upper management and does not involve people like John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt," Jim Martin, an attorney for the firm, told The Associated Press.
Mozeliak is the general manager for St. Louis and DeWitt is the team chairman.
Martin said he was retained in February.
The FBI has declined to confirm it is investigating the Cardinals, but a person familiar with the investigation earlier told the AP that federal authorities are investigating whether members of the team were to blame for what Major League Baseball called a "breach" of the Astros’ database. There has been no indication of how many employees might be under investigation, and Martin’s comments were the first to suggest that any wrongdoing could be limited to lower levels of the Cardinals organization.
The internal investigation is not finished.
"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 the law firm is helping the team in providing requested information to the federal government. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said this week that subpoenas have been issued, though he did not disclose any details.
"The alleged conduct has no place in our game," Mozeliak said. "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 hack was first reported in June 2014 after some of the trade talk was published online. The Astros rely heavily on analytics in their evaluation of players, and use an online database called Ground Control to house proprietary information.
Jeff Luhnow, who headed the Cardinals’ scouting and player development department, was hired as the Astros’ general manager in December 2011, and he has helped turned the team into an AL contender.
Luhnow has not commented this week, but last year said the Astros were working with the FBI and MLB security to determine who was responsible for the breach.
The motive for hacking the Astros’ computer system is unclear.
The Cardinals have become a model of success by mixing traditional scouting with a heavy dose of analytics. That approach grew as Luhnow rose to power in the front office more than a decade ago.
The Cardinals are not big players in free agency, instead building rosters that emphasize homegrown talent with a handful of name players serving as anchors. Their World Series roster in 2013 included 16 players drafted while Luhnow oversaw player development and scouting.
Some of them were no-brainers, such as supplemental first-rounder Lance Lynn in 2008 and second baseman Kolten Wong, a first-rounder in 2011 and third in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting last season.
Under Luhnow’s watch, the Cardinals uncovered three later-round gems in 2009: two-time All-Star Matt Carpenter in the 13th, closer Trevor Rosenthal in the 21st and first baseman Matt Adams in the 23rd. Lefty set-up man Kevin Siegrist was a 41st-round pick in 2008.
"I know he had an impact in the draft," said Chris Duncan, who played for the Cardinals while Luhnow was in St. Louis and is now a broadcaster. "And I know some of the players he drafted turned out to be pretty successful."