Houston Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow spoke Wednesday about an ongoing FBI and Justice Department investigation into whether the St. Louis Cardinals hacked into player personnel databases belonging to the Astros.
In an interview with SI.com, Luhnow denied taking ideas and confidential information belonging to the Cardinals when he left for the Astros in November 2011. Citing an unnamed law enforcement official, the New York Times reported Tuesday the impetus behind the alleged hack stemmed from individuals within the Cardinals' organization believing Luhnow took "proprietary baseball information" to the Astros.
"I’m very aware of intellectual property and the agreements I signed," Luhnow told SI.com. "I didn't take anything, any proprietary information. Nor have we ever received any inquiries from anybody that even suggested that we had."
Luhnow also said he would have had no use for intellectual property belonging to the Cardinals because of the quickly evolving nature of player and statistical analysis in baseball.
"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. “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."
The 49-year-old went on to say he got along with everyone in the Astros' front office, rejecting reports that executives within the Cardinals organization were upset with him. He said Cardinals owner William DeWitt Jr., General Manager John Mozeliak and other high-level team executives attended his wedding in December 2012.
As for the hack itself, Luhnow said he was shocked when he learned the Astros' databases had been compromised last summer. He described implications the hack was made easier since he failed to change his passwords as "absolutely false," saying he understands the importance of "password hygiene."
“At the time when it happened a year ago, it was like coming home and seeing your house has been broken into,” he said. “You feel violated when someone does that without permission."
Although the hack has been a headache for the Astros, Luhnow said it hasn't stopped their rebuilding efforts. The Astros have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2015 season. Through Wednesday, they have the second-best record in the American League at 39-28 and lead the AL West by 2 1/2 games over the Texas Rangers.
"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," Luhnow said. "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."