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Friday, February 07, 2020

‘Dark Arts’ and ‘Codebreaker’: The Origins of the Houston Astros Cheating Scheme - WSJ

I can’t see how Luhnow gets another job in a MLB front office. His continued denials aren’t believable.

Vigoa’s presentation wasn’t the only time Astros employees say Luhnow was informed about Codebreaker. Koch-Weser, the Astros’ director of advance information, said he discussed Codebreaker with Luhnow in one to three meetings after the 2016 season.

Koch-Weser told MLB that Luhnow would “giggle” at the title and appeared “excited” about it. Koch-Weser also said that Luhnow sometimes entered the Astros’ video room during road games and made comments such as, “You guys Codebreaking?”

Luhnow denied Koch-Weser’s accounts.

Other Astros employees told MLB’s investigators that they believed Luhnow knew about Codebreaker, but they provided no definitive proof. Matt Hogan, now the Astros’ manager of pro scouting analysis, told investigators there was no effort to hide the use of Codebreaker in front of Luhnow when he visited the video room. In fact, he told them, “it would have been something to show we were working and get validation of our work.” Luhnow denied seeing evidence of sign-stealing during those visits.

In October 2018, Luhnow met with Koch-Weser to discuss a potential contract extension. In preparation, Koch-Weser outlined his arguments for an extension in a Slack post that included the term “dark arts.” He wrote, in part: “Lastly, I know the secrets that made us a championship team, some of which he[’]d definitely feel a lot safer if they were kept in-house.” Koch-Weser told MLB investigators that during his meeting with Luhnow, he used either the term “dark arts” or “codebreaking” to tout his efforts. Luhnow denied that Koch-Weser referenced either of those things./blockquote>

Jim Furtado Posted: February 07, 2020 at 07:08 PM | 10 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: jeff luhnow, sign stealing

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   1. The Duke Posted: February 07, 2020 at 08:30 PM (#5922802)
Amazing but also exactly what I thought. Looks like Luhnow was working with someone other than Hinch and didn’t want Hinch to know. Cora is likely that person. Manfred took the easy way out but anyone who knows luhnow’s reputation knows he is involved in EVERYTHING that goes on around his team. “I didn’t read to the bottom of the email”. That’s a good one. Next time you all get a long email test yourself and see if you read it. Everyone reads their emails even if it is only skimming.

Hinch ends up coming off as a rube and Luhnow as Vader and I guess Cora is Grand Moff Tarkin, commander of the Death Star W
   2. JJ1986 Posted: February 07, 2020 at 08:51 PM (#5922806)
I can't read the article, but this is the Kevin Goldstein thing, right? Not the banging scheme?
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 07, 2020 at 09:01 PM (#5922808)
Looks like Luhnow is doubling down on his nuanced defense of "nuh-uhhhh."
   4. base ball chick Posted: February 07, 2020 at 10:57 PM (#5922828)
I heard all sorts of bad stuff about luhnow before he came to the astros from the cards - mozeliak had wanted him gone for a reason and had already won the power struggle. NONE of this is even a tiny bit surprising.

i wouldn't be even a little surprised to find out that the truth is that the players were TOLD they were going to hear the signals, and didn't come up with it at all. and they could either keep their mouths SHUT or be out of baseball. you KNOW that even all time great players will be blackballed


i divorced my team over the DH, not crane/luhnow - but it certainly WAS something that made the decision easier

i feel sorry for the previous owner, drayton mclane. no wonder he didn't want to sell the team to crane. He had this Vision of the players - all college educated (american ones) and perfect character - cowboys with white hats on silver horses, The Good Guys. well, except for lettingt ed wade bring in brett myers the wife beater... but that WAS at the end
   5. winnipegwhip Posted: February 07, 2020 at 11:34 PM (#5922832)
Luhnow is the type of guy who in a previous life would have had Otto Kranzbuhler defending him
   6. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 07, 2020 at 11:34 PM (#5922833)
The big news would seem to be that Codebreaker was use at home and on the road.
   7. caspian88 Posted: February 08, 2020 at 12:39 AM (#5922835)
Also that multiple senior Astros operations employees who are currently employed were instrumental in developing and deploying the "dark arts."
   8. Lars6788 Posted: February 08, 2020 at 12:42 AM (#5922836)
Sounds more like Revenge of the Nerds analytics driven than any one coach [Cora] or wily veteran [Beltran] on the field.
   9. greenback used to say live and let live Posted: February 08, 2020 at 01:24 AM (#5922840)
I heard all sorts of bad stuff about luhnow before he came to the astros from the cards - mozeliak had wanted him gone for a reason and had already won the power struggle.

Mostly what I heard about Luhnow when he was in St. Louis was that he was willing to try pretty much anything. The tandem starters thing in the lower minors was probably the most visible experiment, which pitchers absolutely hated. Luhnow posted here, he reached out to bloggers, he hired MGL and Ron Shandler, he tried to build a "fan database" of amateur players, that kind of thing. Nothing I would call "dark arts", but not exactly a shocker that he would try something kinda stupid (and evil), if someone in the org was enthusiastic about the idea.

The power struggle in St. Louis was not over when Luhnow decided to go to Houston. Luhnow left about a month after La Russa retired, and La Russa pretty clearly had been the guy calling the shots. In other words, while Luhnow was DeWitt's golden boy, Mozeliak seems to have been TLR's choice, and DeWitt generally deferred to TLR. If Luhnow sticks around after you take TLR out of the picture, then I'm not sure what happens next, although a World Series title in 2011 (with a good farm system) buys Mozeliak some time.
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 08, 2020 at 11:02 AM (#5922861)
I keep picturing Luhnow coming around the video interns cubicle with a coffee cup like Lundbergh in Office Space. "Peeeeeeter, what's happening. We're gonna need you to work on Codebreaking Saturday."

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