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Monday, June 30, 2014

Leaked: 10 Months Of The Houston Astros’ Internal Trade Talks

Some of these asks were just foolish.

Two years ago, the Houston Astros constructed “Ground Control”—a built-from-scratch online database for the private use of the Astros front office. It is by all accounts a marvel, an easy-to-use interface giving executives instant access to player statistics, video, and communications with other front offices around baseball. All it needs, apparently, is a little better password protection.
....
7/26/2013
[Nationals GM Mike] Rizzo called [Luhnow] to inquire on Harrell. JL told him we would still need a headliner like Giolito because we still value Harrell highly. Rizzo did not respond immediately.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 30, 2014 at 02:04 PM | 51 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros

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   1. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: June 30, 2014 at 02:39 PM (#4739959)
bump
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 30, 2014 at 02:50 PM (#4739980)
Wow! Nice IT security Houston.

Haven't had a chance to read the whole article, but it's very cool to have something like this out there.
   3. Willie Mayspedes Posted: June 30, 2014 at 02:50 PM (#4739982)
COL is looking for a corner bat (they bid $63 on Abreu)


Jose Abreu would have been ridiculous in Colorado.
   4. PreservedFish Posted: June 30, 2014 at 02:55 PM (#4739992)
Yeah, I'm looking forward to reading through these.
   5. Nasty Nate Posted: June 30, 2014 at 02:55 PM (#4739995)
Interesting stuff. I love the details of the trade negotiations.
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 30, 2014 at 03:01 PM (#4740005)
These entries seem really sparse.

In the off season, I'd expect there to be trade talk every day.
   7. Joe Kehoskie Posted: June 30, 2014 at 03:09 PM (#4740017)

I suppose this could happen to any team, but this doesn't look good in the midst of all the stories pushing the "Astros' front office is full of geniuses" angle. In fact, I wonder if these were intentionally leaked the same week one such story is the cover story in Sports Illustrated.

I'm not a big fan of the Astros' front office and these trade talks didn't do anything to change that. Luhnow massively overplayed his hand on Bud Norris and one or two others, and many of the trade proposals were delusional.
   8. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: June 30, 2014 at 03:13 PM (#4740027)
I suppose this could happen to any team, but this doesn't look good in the midst of all the stories pushing the "Astros' front office is full of geniuses" angle.

I thought this too, though I tend more to the Astros' apologist side of the spectrum.

Luhnow massively overplayed his hand on Bud Norris and one or two others, and many of the trade proposals were delusional.

In general, I've wondered how common it is for teams to over-value what they have, familiarity bias.
   9. Joe Kehoskie Posted: June 30, 2014 at 03:20 PM (#4740036)
In general, I've wondered how common it is for teams to over-value what they have, familiarity bias.

I'm sure it's common, but it's a well-known bias that an allegedly brilliant front office shouldn't be making, especially less than a week before the trade deadline when the team had clearly decided the player in question would be moved. What's worse, bluffing seemed to be Luhnow's entire strategy in the Norris talks. He traded Norris for well south of what he was telling teams (e.g., Boston) they would need to offer just to "get in the conversation."
   10. alilisd Posted: June 30, 2014 at 03:49 PM (#4740074)
Jose Abreu would have been ridiculous in Colorado.


The Sox home field is a pretty good HR park, too. More HR than Coors last season, and 2012, too. Coors wins 2011, but US Cellular takes 2010 by a narrow margin, and 2009 by a wide one.
   11. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: June 30, 2014 at 03:52 PM (#4740077)
Just a quick note to the Astros front office (in case they are reading) for protecting Giants fans from Brian Sabean.
   12. Sweatpants Posted: June 30, 2014 at 03:58 PM (#4740079)
The Sox home field is a pretty good HR park, too. More HR than Coors last season, and 2012, too. Coors wins 2011, but US Cellular takes 2010 by a narrow margin, and 2009 by a wide one.
Pitchers don't bat in Comiskey, so it's not an entirely fair comparison (not that your overall point is incorrect).
   13. Dale Sams Posted: June 30, 2014 at 04:02 PM (#4740084)
[Luhnow] reached out to [Ben Cherington] on Carp. BC said that they likely value Carp more than other Clubs and would likely want real prospect value in return.


I figured as much. Carp was valuable last year, and if Napoli were injured and Carp had to play everyday, I think he'd provide at least a 100 OPS+
   14. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: June 30, 2014 at 04:15 PM (#4740096)
but this doesn't look good in the midst of all the stories pushing the "Astros' front office is full of geniuses


geniuses might also mean, low paid dorks living in the basement, who want to impress.
   15. Guapo Posted: June 30, 2014 at 04:18 PM (#4740102)
I love Rizzo's "failure to respond immediately" to the Harrell-for-Giolito offer. Probably was because he was checking his office for hidden cameras and either Ashton Kutcher or Allen Funt hiding in the closet.
   16. Austin Kearns: The Spy Who Shagged Flies Posted: June 30, 2014 at 04:25 PM (#4740112)
I love Rizzo's "failure to respond immediately" to the Harrell-for-Giolito offer. Probably was because he was checking his office for hidden cameras and either Ashton Kutcher or Allen Funt hiding in the closet.


Too busy cleaning off his coffee-covered laptop after doing the spit-take.
   17. Willie Mayspedes Posted: June 30, 2014 at 04:39 PM (#4740130)
The Sox home field is a pretty good HR park, too. More HR than Coors last season, and 2012, too. Coors wins 2011, but US Cellular takes 2010 by a narrow margin, and 2009 by a wide one.


He might not have quite so many HR but he'd be hitting .330
   18. Walt Davis Posted: June 30, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4740168)
So hackers are the new market inefficiency?
   19. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: June 30, 2014 at 05:30 PM (#4740191)
This seems disturbingly similar to what I imagined the Astros FO would actually be doing.

I would guess that teams make absurd offers to each other not infrequently. You never know! Seems like it would be foolish not to make a few silly offers.
   20. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 30, 2014 at 05:39 PM (#4740202)
I would guess that teams make absurd offers to each other not infrequently. You never know! Seems like it would be foolish not to make a few silly offers.

Really? I'd think that would sour relations rather quickly.

If I'm Cherington and Luhnow asks for Bogaerts for Norris, I'm mentally putting him on my "do not return calls" list. I assume these are busy guys, and don't want to eff around with guys who are unreasonable.
   21. Joe Kehoskie Posted: June 30, 2014 at 05:40 PM (#4740203)

Per Evan Drellich on Twitter, Astros are admitting that some of the leaks are true while claiming other parts were fabricated. (The latter part seems dubious; various reporters are claiming to have already confirmed big chunks of it via non-Astros sources.) Astros said the FBI and MLB security are investigating, and the Astros are vowing to prosecute whomever was involved. Luhnow about to hold a presser.
   22. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: June 30, 2014 at 05:46 PM (#4740211)
If I'm Cherington and Luhnow asks for Bogaerts for Norris, I'm mentally putting him on my "do not return calls" list. I assume these are busy guys, and don't want to eff around with guys who are unreasonable.


Maybe, but I don't know if there are really enough trading partners out there to stick to that kind of list too much. It might be obnoxious, but if you're sufficiently motivated to get something done, then you deal with obnoxious people. Cherington clearly still takes Luhnow's calls (although maybe less so after this).

I'm not saying you crank call every GM every day offering your trash for their top prospect, but just throwing an occasional crazy idea out there every so often probably wouldn't be a terrible move. Crazy trades do still happen.
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 30, 2014 at 05:51 PM (#4740217)
Maybe, but I don't know if there are really enough trading partners out there to stick to that kind of list too much. It might be obnoxious, but if you're sufficiently motivated to get something done, then you deal with obnoxious people. Cherington clearly still takes Luhnow's calls (although maybe less so after this).

You may still take a guy's call, or have a subordinate do so, but are you really going to invest a lot of time developing a deal with a guy who's unreasonable?

I wouldn't want to spend days and tens of hours structuring a deal, only to have them at the last minute add, "Oh, and the PTBNL has to be one of your top-5 prospects".
   24. PreservedFish Posted: June 30, 2014 at 05:51 PM (#4740218)
Are the trades that the other teams proposing to the Astros also silly? It could be commonplace for teams to start trade negotiations from two different ludicrous positions and then meet in the middle.
   25. Ron J2 Posted: June 30, 2014 at 05:51 PM (#4740219)
#20 I remember reading that Jim Bowden was fond of making these insulting offers -- at 3AM (presumably to further piss off the other side)
   26. Dale Sams Posted: June 30, 2014 at 05:51 PM (#4740220)
Well, how long does it take to read an email, "Norris for Bogaerts?" and respond, "Lol. No. Maybe Cecchini for Norris and (?)"

Now talking actual phone calls, well I HATE talking on the phone personally.

   27. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: June 30, 2014 at 05:56 PM (#4740230)
#20 I remember reading that Jim Bowden was fond of making these insulting offers -- at 3AM (presumably to further piss off the other side)
See, I would have guessed "presumably because he was drunk."
   28. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 30, 2014 at 05:59 PM (#4740234)
Are the trades that the other teams proposing to the Astros also silly? It could be commonplace for teams to start trade negotiations from two different ludicrous positions and then meet in the middle.

Most of the other teams seem willing to consider anyone outside their top 3-4 prospects. So, they don't seem unreasonable on their face.
   29. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: June 30, 2014 at 06:02 PM (#4740242)
I wouldn't want to spend days and tens of hours structuring a deal, only to have them at the last minute add, "Oh, and the PTBNL has to be one of your top-5 prospects".


I agree that that scenario would be quite irritating, but I get the sense that these are more just 'feeling out' type offers that can be (and were, I think) quickly rejected. I would guess that the process described in #24 happens sometimes, too.
   30. Joe Kehoskie Posted: June 30, 2014 at 06:04 PM (#4740248)

Luhnow says Deadspin didn't contact Astros before publication; Deadspin immediately says otherwise.
   31. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 30, 2014 at 06:08 PM (#4740254)
Luhnow says Deadspin didn't contact Astros before publication; Deadspin immediately says otherwise.

Can I revisit my claim that we could assemble a middle-of-the-road MLB front office from Primates?

I think we could at least figure out secure email, and I'm sure Epstein would do a better job at PR than these clowns.
   32. Davo Dozier Posted: June 30, 2014 at 06:17 PM (#4740269)
I would guess that teams make absurd offers to each other not infrequently. You never know! Seems like it would be foolish not to make a few silly offers.
After all, we're just 6 months removed from Doug Fister for Robbie Ray.
   33. alilisd Posted: June 30, 2014 at 06:56 PM (#4740307)
Pitchers don't bat in Comiskey,


Good catch, I forgot to consider that.
   34. alilisd Posted: June 30, 2014 at 06:59 PM (#4740309)
He might not have quite so many HR but he'd be hitting .330


50 points of BA? That would be impressive.
   35. jobu Posted: June 30, 2014 at 07:21 PM (#4740318)
This whole thing is just ridiculously embarrassing for the Astros. I'm sure there are all kinds of pissed off GMs around baseball--several of the entries will create front office/player relationship problems on other teams.
   36. Willie Mayspedes Posted: June 30, 2014 at 08:30 PM (#4740362)
The Sox home field is a pretty good HR park, too. More HR than Coors last season, and 2012, too. Coors wins 2011, but US Cellular takes 2010 by a narrow margin, and 2009 by a wide one.


According to fangraphs COL has had a higher HR park factor (slightly) than in CHI the last 4 years in a row.

That and around a 115 basic park factor vs about a 104 in Chicago over the last 4 years.

This year only Cellular Field has a .981 Hit Factor this year so far compared to 1.265 in Colorado. This year Cellular field has a .916 HR factor to Colorado's 1.314. According to ESPN

He'd have higher numbers I have no doubt.
   37. KT's Pot Arb Posted: June 30, 2014 at 08:52 PM (#4740381)
I think we could at least figure out secure email, and I'm sure Epstein would do a better job at PR than these clowns.


Let's not be so sure about secure email. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc have all been hacked and these are tech companies with tons of smart techies where security is a super high priority.

Not so sure what could be done better about PR, once it's out there it's out there.
   38. madvillain Posted: June 30, 2014 at 09:08 PM (#4740385)
Let's not be so sure about secure email. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc have all been hacked and these are tech companies with tons of smart techies where security is a super high priority.


The problem with electronic security is that you're only a strong as your weakest link, which is often just carelessness and almost unpreventable from a IT management perspective. You can have everyone's email behind a 64 bit encrypted database but the moment Joe Schmoe leaves his email logged in and walks away from his desk then none of that matters. Or, just as common: disgruntled employee doesn't give half a #### about his NDA and shoots off a bunch of stuff on his way out the door.

I'm sure the Astros have embraced the whole "bring your own device" (which as an IT pro I can't stand as it leads to problems exactly like this besides being an absolute nightmare to manage) thing so it's even harder to prevent stuff like this happening. If Joe Schmoe has his work email pulled up on his iPad and Joe Schmoe Jr starts tapping buttons you don't know what in the world is gonna happen.

Honestly I'm surprised stuff like this doesn't happen more. I'd guess it's because of the "never burn a source" thing in journalism, but Deadspin doesn't really care about that.
   39. Walt Davis Posted: June 30, 2014 at 09:15 PM (#4740393)
On outrageous offers ... I think if they contacted you asking for a player, there's no harm in asking for something ridiculous. You know they want the player in question so find out what they're willing to pay. Granted you're probably more likely to be successful getting a Bogaerts type when he's still in A ball rather than ML-ready (e.g. Garza for Archer and Lee).

This year only Cellular Field has a .981 Hit Factor this year so far compared to 1.265 in Colorado. This year Cellular field has a .916 HR factor to Colorado's 1.314.

I've been wondering if, in this new low offense era, they've turned off the humidor and not told anybody. As a team they're hitting 326/376/526 at home. (245/296/392 on the road)

In 2013 it was 293/347/462. In 2012 it was 306/367/500. In 2011, 274/349/447. In 2001 it was 331/387/554.

Take your pick.

Not so sure what could be done better about PR, once it's out there it's out there.

Well ... "Some of them are real but somebody went to the trouble to produce a lot of fake emails and formatted them terribly" is slightly less believable than OJ's search for the real killers.
   40. The Duke Posted: June 30, 2014 at 09:36 PM (#4740402)
#22 Agreed --isn't this how the Fister trade happened
   41. Mess with the Meat, you get the Wad! Posted: July 01, 2014 at 12:38 AM (#4740488)
Who would of thought that bselig@bselig.com and password bselig would work?
   42. shoewizard Posted: July 01, 2014 at 05:36 AM (#4740509)

In general, I've wondered how common it is for teams to over-value what they have, familiarity bias


If you are Kevin Towers, not very common. He thinks the idea is drive down the value of your assets, THEN trade them.
   43. alilisd Posted: July 01, 2014 at 01:13 PM (#4740768)
If you are Kevin Towers, not very common. He thinks the idea is drive down the value of your assets, THEN trade them.


Step 3: Profit!
   44. Bug Selig Posted: July 01, 2014 at 01:18 PM (#4740778)
If you are Kevin Towers, not very common. He thinks the idea is drive down the value of your assets, THEN trade them.


Well, yeah. It sounds bad if you say it that way.
   45. kthejoker Posted: July 01, 2014 at 01:21 PM (#4740781)
Actually, the Astros provide corporate laptops and phones to their front office works, I believe.

And these leaks are so devoid of context they're completely worthless to analyze how any front office is operating in toto.

There was a lot of talk that Norris might land the Astros Bundy, which might explain why Luhnow asked Cherington for Bogaerts et all to start the discussion. Or he might have been willing to put more of his own prospects on the line in a quantity for quality grab. Maybe it was a brushoff from some earlier thing.

And that's just one of the hot items. Again, no context = no insight.
   46. Nasty Nate Posted: July 01, 2014 at 01:21 PM (#4740782)
The Astros have made lots of trades in the past few years, so despite a few outlandish requests I'm sure other teams know that deals can be struck with them.
   47. base ball chick Posted: July 01, 2014 at 02:36 PM (#4740937)
it might could have helped the astros if the FO didn't diss norris. or anyone else who might could make some money

i'm enjoying this. is that wrong?

oh yeah
i am NOT responsible for the hackage
   48. Joe Kehoskie Posted: July 01, 2014 at 02:51 PM (#4740965)

Between this mess and the growing rumors that the Astros used their No. 1 overall pick on a kid who might have failed his physical, these are probably some high-stress times in the Astros' front office.
   49. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: July 01, 2014 at 02:55 PM (#4740974)
oh yeah
i am NOT responsible for the hackage


What about one of your kids?
   50. Lars6788 Posted: July 01, 2014 at 03:06 PM (#4740990)
#45 which intern are you in the Astros FO?

I do think how the system was hacked is more important than the actual info, though it gives people something to talk about and stew over.
   51. base ball chick Posted: July 02, 2014 at 12:54 AM (#4741713)
A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: July 01, 2014 at 02:55 PM (#4740974)

oh yeah
i am NOT responsible for the hackage


What about one of your kids?


mah kidsss?
nah
all they know about computers is what mah mama taught em and

uh oh

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