WASHINGTON – The St. Louis Cardinals, long-regarded as a paragon for on-field play in baseball, are the subject of a federal investigation for allegedly stealing information from a former division rival, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
Justice Department prosecutors said the FBI uncovered evidence that unidentified Cardinals employees hacked into the internal servers of the Houston Astros to take information about player personnel, including discussions about trades, statistics, and scouting reports. Those unnamed Cardinals officials have not been placed on leave, suspended or fired, the Times reported.
Federal investigators suspect the hacking by Cardinals employees was an attempt at sabotaging the efforts of Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, who had worked as an executive with the Cardinals and helped the club build up its minor league system. While with the Cardinals, Luhnow established an internal server to store information on the team's baseball operations. When he departed for the Astros, Luhnow created a similar system for them.
In 2013, the Astros suspected they were the victims of a hacker and notified Major League Baseball, who then contacted the FBI. Federal agents discovered the Astros' network had been accessed by a computer in a home where St. Louis Cardinals officials lived. Authorities suspect Luhnow may have used the same passwords on the Astros network that he used while with the Cardinals, and that is how the breach occurred.
Major League Baseball is fully cooperating with the investigation, according to a statement from the office of Commissioner Rob Manfred:
“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.”
Subpoenas have been served to the Cardinals organization and Major League Baseball for emails and other “electronic correspondence,” the Times reported.
The Cardinals issued a response late Tuesday morning:
“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.”
The Cardinals and Astros were rivals in the National League's Central Division from 1994 to 2012, when the Astros jumped to the American League's Western Division.
The franchise has won 11 World Series championships in its history, second only to the New York Yankees, and reached the National League Championship Series nine times since 2000. At present, the team has the best record in baseball (42-21).
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