Although the Cardinals hacking saga has technically come to an end with MLB’s (probably-definitely-too-light) punishment, the story isn’t quite over.
Just today, Chris Correa, the former Cardinals executive who pleaded guilty to hacking the Astros’ private system and proprietary data, released a statement that was met (almost immediately) with a stark denial from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.
Let’s get into that, and other bits from around MLB …
- You can read Correa’s full statement on Twitter here, but in short, he says that the Astros did take information from the Cardinals, and he confirmed it with his intrusions into their system (that was always a part of his defense).
- He also suggests that he attempted/volunteered to meet with Manfred a number of times, in order to share his concerns about intellectually property theft, but found the commissioner “unresponsive.”
- The Commissioner’s official response, which can be found here, begs to differ. Strongly: “Upon the conclusion of the federal investigation, during July and August 2016, the Department of Investigations repeatedly requested Mr. Correa’s cooperation through his attorney …. Mr. Correa not only steadfastly refused to answer any questions, but also opposed the release of any documents by the government to the Office of the Commissioner.” The statement goes on to add that Correa’s attorney said that his client was not interested in providing any information directly or indirectly to MLB.
- I’m not sure if anything will come of these statements, given Correa’s incarceration and the Cardinals’ already handed down punishment, but I should point out that Correa believes he and the Cardinals were treated unfairly. In fact, he goes as far as saying “I am unimpressed with Major League Baseball’s commitment to fair and just sanctions in this matter. The Cardinals were not the organization that benefited from unauthorized access.” We may not have all of the information – especially with regards to the idea that the Cardinals somehow didn’t benefit from the unauthorized access – but I am ready for this ugly situation to be left in the past.
- But in case you’re not quite ready to let it go – which is more than understandable – Buster Olney has a list of some common observations and conspiracy theories from “officials in the industry” regarding the seemingly light punishment. Although some issues are less understandable than others, there are some really interesting, albeit controversial, points made. One example being the belief that the Astros shouldn’t be awarded a competitive advantage for “doing a poor job with their internet security.” I don’t think I can go that far, but I can certainly understand the thought process.
- Speaking of competitive advantages … teams will do anything they can to gain them, right? And the Rays have long been at the vanguard:
Interesting change for spring training, #Rays have pushed workouts back an hour, now starting at 10:30 am. Sleep study has been a focus.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) January 31, 2017
- It may seem unusual, but it’s not too far off from Joe Maddon’s BP cancellations or scheduled “show up late” days during the 2015 and 2016 regular seasons.
- At For The Win (USA Today), Ted Berg writes about the broad issue of low pay for Minor Leaguers through the eyes of one such player, Kyle Johnson. Specifically, at the end of February, Johnson will head to Florida from his home in Idaho, to participate in the Mets Spring Training for exactly no pay. Although he’ll receive breakfast, lunch, and some living expenses during the Spring, he will not receive enough to support his life there. In any case, Johnson is among four active Minor Leaguers who are attempting to join a lawsuit against MLB. At the center of the suit, is the attempt to force MLB to follow the Fair Labor Standards Act (in other words, offer the minimum wage, pay overtime, etc.). As of now, many Minor Leaguers earn as little as $1,100 a month, only get paid during the season, and not receive any overtime. Being a career Minor Leaguer will not make you much money.
- Regardless of the “apprenticeship” argument or the idea that they might one day get paid a lot as a pro, I am inclined to stand with the players on this one. Given the increasingly enormous revenues at the Major League level, I’m not sure I can justify less than minimum wage for the Minor Leaguers who buttress the big league teams. For a lot more on this story and lawsuit, go here.
- After some extensive research, a couple of professors (one of whom was a former front office analyst), discovered that baseball is the sport with the greatest amount of luck involved (of the four major sports). You can read about the study and its implications at FanGraphs.
- The Triple-A Iowa Cubs play in the Pacific Coast League – a minor league known for being a hitter’s paradise. In fact, research shows that a Major Leaguer can expect the following reduction in their slash line by moving from the PCL to MLB: batting average 26 percent, on-base percentage 19 percent, and slugging average 30 percent. While some theories have pointed to the hotter, dryer air as a cause for relatively high production in that league (allowing baseballs to fly further and longer than the average ML park), the actual answer (according to The Hardball Times) is related, although slightly different. While it’s true that those conditions affect the production in the league, it’s not because of the air. Instead, those dry, hot conditions make the various infields a “track meet.” In other words, fast infields are allowing PCL players to carry a much higher BAPIP (and thus overall offensive production) than most other leagues. It’s a pretty revelatory (albeit long) read. Check it out. (Note that the PCL parks that boost offense tend to be in the other half of the league from the Iowa Cubs – their home ballpark usually rates as much more neutral – so the stat inflation in the PCL would be disproportionately less on Cubs prospects.)
- At MLB.com, Andrew Simon wonders which team might be the 2017 version of the 2016 Cleveland Indians. In other words, which team might make a big leap from the year prior (Indians went from 81 to 94 wins from 2015-2016), and win their division. Examining four AL teams with fewer than 85 wins in 2016, Simon comes up with the Houston Astros, the Los Angeles Angels, the New York Yankees, and the Kansas City Royals.
- From my perspective, the Astros and Yankees figure to be better in 2017, the Angels do not seem significantly better, and the Royals are something of a wild card (having looked quite a bit stronger, before the tragic passing of Yordano Ventura). With that said, if Jorge Soler finally reaches that summit of his potential, he could be the type of offensive force to really lead that team. I’d love to see it happen.
- Keith Law considers the NL Central the strongest division in baseball … when just considering farm systems. That is obviously a bit scary, when you consider what the Cubs were able to do with their farm system in just a few years. Check out this ESPN page for a brief write-up and a link to each team’s top prospects, as written by Law. And, for what it’s worth, we discussed Law’s Top Ten Chicago Cubs Prospects earlier today.
- Earlier this winter, Rich Hill signed a three-year, $48 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Today, Travis Sawchik (FanGraphs) wrote about how his success and recent deal with the Dodgers makes him a perfect Role Model for Failure: “Hill’s unlikely and unusual success story has multiple layers. There’s the work he did to strengthen his body and arm … the counsel of Red Sox pitching guru Brian Bannister …. But another compelling aspect of Hill’s reclamation story is the process of sorting through what’s effective and what isn’t in the midst of failure.” It’s another great read from Sawchik, who shows how Hill has demonstrated the right way to fail and how to move beyond it.
- And finally, at Baseball is Fun, Luis takes a look at what was *almost* the play of the year:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) January 31, 2017