Reports Claim Astros’ Front Office Laid Groundwork For Sign-Stealing
Reports have emerged that the Houston Astros’ front office laid the groundwork for the team’s sign-stealing scandal with a program called “Codebreaker.”
Introduced by an intern in September of 2016, the Excel-based application was designed to decode opposing catchers’ signs and shared with Astros baseball operations employees and video room staffers.
After logging into a spreadsheet, the signs were then communicated to hitters by baserunner via an intermediary. Eventually Astros players evolved the system to include banging on trash cans to warn hitters of the coming pitch.
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The former intern, Derek Vigoa, is currently the Astros’ senior manager of team operations and told investigators that he assumed former general manager Jeff Luhnow knew the program would be used for live games.
Luhnow, who was suspended for one year along with former manager AJ Hinch before both being fired, said he had no knowledge of any misconduct from his club.
In a statement from Luhnow after the league released their investigation, he explained his side.
“The sign-stealing initiative was not planned or directed by baseball management,” he said. “The trash-can banging was driven and executed by players, and the video decoding of signs originated and was executed by lower-level employees working with the bench coach. I am deeply upset that I wasn’t informed of any misconduct because I would have stopped it.”
The team’s director of advance information, Tom Koch-Weser, also alleges that Luhnow knew about the system.
Hinch recently came out with his description of events and was deeply upset by the outcome.
“I’m the man up front,” he said. “As the manager I always feel responsibility for everything that happens in and around the team. I was in a position of knowledge, and that’s been mentioned. I’m going to serve a pretty stiff penalty, and I just want people to know I’m sorry for being a part of it.”
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