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Monday, November 09, 2020

Ex-Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, fired after sign-stealing scandal, sues team

Jeff Luhnow sued the Houston Astros for breach of contract on Sunday, alleging that Astros owner Jim Crane and Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred negotiated penalties for the sign-stealing scandal that enabled the team to paint Luhnow as “the scapegoat for the organization” and fire its general manager “in order to save more than $22 million in guaranteed salary.”

In January, after a two-month investigation into how the Astros violated baseball rules by improperly deploying technology to decode signs in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Manfred suspended Luhnow and Astros manager A.J. Hinch for the 2020 season. Crane then fired Luhnow and Hinch.

Luhnow’s lawsuit uses quotation marks around the word “investigation” and calls it “a negotiated resolution” between Crane and Manfred “that enabled the team to keep its World Series championship, went to great lengths to publicly exonerate Crane, and scapegoated Luhnow for a sign-stealing scandal that he had no knowledge of and played no part in.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 09, 2020 at 12:05 AM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, jeff luhnow, sign-stealing

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   1. Howie Menckel Posted: November 09, 2020 at 12:57 AM (#5987882)
the legal discovery phase would be epic - which is why this will be settled with terms undisclosed.
   2. MuttsIdolCochrane Posted: November 09, 2020 at 04:45 AM (#5987887)
He is their patsy; their Lee Harvey Oswald so all of the real cheaters, the players, can go unpunished and a tainted championship can stand. No conspiracy here!
   3. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: November 09, 2020 at 07:50 AM (#5987890)
Manfred negotiated penalties with Crane? That sounds absurd.
   4. The Duke Posted: November 09, 2020 at 08:31 AM (#5987896)
His interview a few weeks ago was his outreach to MLB that if they didn’t stop blackballing him, it would get ugly. MLB responded by doubling down so the lawsuit is not a surprise. MLB won’t like how this plays out. Getting people to testify under oath is not what MLB wants and Luhnow knows that. I expect a large settlement
   5. CFBF's Results are Certified Posted: November 09, 2020 at 09:20 AM (#5987905)
Jeff Luhnow sued the Houston Astros for breach of contract on Sunday, alleging that Astros owner Jim Crane and Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred negotiated penalties for the sign-stealing scandal that enabled the team to paint Luhnow as “the scapegoat for the organization” and fire its general manager “in order to save more than $22 million in guaranteed salary.”


I'd think Luhnow would appreciate the economic efficiency of this maneuver.
   6. winnipegwhip Posted: November 09, 2020 at 09:43 AM (#5987912)
Is it safe to say HeyNow won't be working in baseball again?
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 09, 2020 at 10:05 AM (#5987914)
IANAL, but wouldn't Luhnow get tossed here under the doctrine of "clean hands". I mean, you can't really sue for wrongful terminations saying "I was embezzling but my bosses knew about it and were stealing too. They just fired me as a scapegoat."
   8. bigglou115 is not an Illuminati agent Posted: November 09, 2020 at 10:13 AM (#5987917)
@7, well, first of all unclean hands only applies to equitable remedies. So there's still room to recover. Other than that, there's a difference between committing a crime and cheating, primarily that the court would have to decide that cheating was "unethical" as envisioned by the doctrine, and if Luhnow alleges Crane told him to cheat then unclean hands wouldn't apply at all.
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 09, 2020 at 11:12 AM (#5987929)
and if Luhnow alleges Crane told him to cheat then unclean hands wouldn't apply at all.

So, "I was just following orders" is a valid excuse in civil court.
   10. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: November 09, 2020 at 11:14 AM (#5987930)
6 - that's my read
   11. bigglou115 is not an Illuminati agent Posted: November 09, 2020 at 11:31 AM (#5987937)
So, "I was just following orders" is a valid excuse in civil court.


When it isn't a crime and you're suing your boss? Yeah.

It probably wouldn't work against a 3rd party suing JL, so I don't think the comparison is particularly apt. He's suing the guys who gave him the orders.
   12. asinwreck Posted: November 09, 2020 at 12:47 PM (#5987947)
   13. The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 09, 2020 at 01:15 PM (#5987955)
It does seem like Luhnow is burning his bridges with MLB here. There’s a fair amount of money at stake, but his future employment is no small matter, either. Perhaps the initial interest in his post-suspension employment was disappointing, but you’d think he’d become a more attractive candidate as time went on - he only needs one team desperate for a ‘proven winner’, and Cora & Hinch finding work gives him some reason for optimism. Google says the Texas Statute of Limitations for breach of contract claims is 4 years, so this seems a bit rushed, but perhaps he believes we deserve some entertainment.
   14. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: November 09, 2020 at 02:30 PM (#5987970)
I think this is an example of MLB protecting its own. Cora and Hinch were ex-players and they found employment very quickly after their suspensions. Perhaps Luhnow has sensed that he's been unofficially blackballed and so this is his shot to get some serious cash before moving on. It wouldn't be surprising that he's been more-or-less blackballed -- Manfred banned John Coppolella for life for Atlanta's misdeeds in the international market. What do Coppolella and Luhnow have in common? They never played the game professionally.
   15. jmurph Posted: November 09, 2020 at 02:40 PM (#5987972)
Rob Manfred is favoring ex-players over non players? Manfred? Really?
   16. Jobu is silent on the changeup Posted: November 09, 2020 at 03:22 PM (#5987976)
fire its general manager “in order to save more than $22 million in guaranteed salary.”
Jeff. Luhnow. Said. This.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: November 09, 2020 at 04:14 PM (#5987983)
Even if not actually blackballed, it strikes me as unlikely that Luhnow's projected earnings in baseball exceeds $22 M (even moreso $22 M upfront). Almost regardless, he wouldn't be re-starting at the top of an organization on a top PBO/GM salary. He'd at best get some sort of assistant GM spot. I'm pretty sure pretty much all of those pay <$1 M. Then after a few years of success and proving he's a good boy then the next Astros might bring him on as PBO/GM. Then if he succeeds there, he gets a new top contract. So if everything goes right, then he gets essentially the same contract he's suing over here.

Obviously I could be wrong -- Hinch and Cora seem to be picking up where they left off, maybe Luhnow would be too if not for the alleged blackballing.
   18. Jay Seaver Posted: November 09, 2020 at 07:43 PM (#5988001)
It does seem like Luhnow is burning his bridges with MLB here. There’s a fair amount of money at stake, but his future employment is no small matter, either.


IIRC, Luhnow is a guy who came to baseball from a management background, and may be angling for works as another sort of corporate executive. This sort of ruthlessness would probably be applauded there.
   19. The Duke Posted: November 09, 2020 at 09:53 PM (#5988012)
IDK, suing your former employer is not really a line item on your CV that sells you
   20. The Duke Posted: November 09, 2020 at 10:10 PM (#5988017)
The only proper ending for this soap opera is for Luhnow to be named the new head of the MLBPA
   21. Mayor Blomberg Posted: November 09, 2020 at 11:03 PM (#5988024)
if Luhnow alleges Crane told him to cheat then unclean hands wouldn't apply at all.

That's a fun amended filing. "OK, forget that part about I knew nothing whatsoever about it. I was actually the architect, but not willingly, or not totally willingly."
   22. winnipegwhip Posted: November 10, 2020 at 09:42 AM (#5988051)
He'd at best get some sort of assistant GM spot


While I agree with what you say logically, I wonder what GM would want an scheming, self-promoting, Luhnow below him on the org chart. That in itself may restrict his hiring opportunities.
   23. The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 10, 2020 at 10:04 AM (#5988056)
The only proper ending for this soap opera is for Luhnow to be named the new head of the MLBPA.
There are some attractive Baseball Operations/GM jobs still open. Luhnow running the Mets or Angels - really any team - while suing another team in a lawsuit that accuses the Commissioner of framing him would be pretty 2020, too. Not the most likely outcome.
   24. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: November 10, 2020 at 11:43 AM (#5988076)
My sense is that Lunhow wasn’t exactly Mr. Popular when he was running things in Houston to begin with. Cora and Hinch have that “old school baseball men” persona and I think both guys are generally liked. Lunhow feels like someone a lot of people were rooting against even before this stuff happened. So I suspect he isn’t really harming his future opportunities in baseball because he really didn’t have any.
   25. Jay Seaver Posted: November 10, 2020 at 02:14 PM (#5988131)
IDK, suing your former employer is not really a line item on your CV that sells you


Suing them doesn't; getting a settlement so that you can at least argue shows your dismissal was improper can help. This may make him poison in baseball or even professional sports, but if he wants to get a VP position in another industry or something like that, it may be useful.

Plus there's the money when the Astros settle because the rest of MLB doesn't want them to open their books. It's a risky proposition - one which the majority of MLB execs wouldn't take because they've been working in the sport their entire professional lives and don't want to leave, in part because they love it - but less of one if you've got no problem leaving this particular business behind.
   26. base ball chick Posted: November 10, 2020 at 10:25 PM (#5988221)
Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: November 10, 2020 at 11:43 AM (#5988076)

My sense is that Lunhow wasn’t exactly Mr. Popular when he was running things in Houston to begin with. Cora and Hinch have that “old school baseball men” persona and I think both guys are generally liked. Lunhow feels like someone a lot of people were rooting against even before this stuff happened. So I suspect he isn’t really harming his future opportunities in baseball because he really didn’t have any


- i think you are dead right and i think he decided to sue because no one wants anything to do with him. and won't even if he "wins". the brandon shtttbag episode made him and his FO team look REALLY bad. the probability that he had noooooooooo idea about the "gaming" - hahaha - the system is about the same probability that ML teams had nooooooooo idea that players were shooting up with roids

but he won't have to work ever again if he gets 22 million bucks. he might not settle for that much but he is gonna get some cash because astros/mlb will want this to go away and doesn't want a whole lot of people to have to give sworn statements, or any team to have to give access to books
   27. Walt Davis Posted: November 10, 2020 at 11:15 PM (#5988231)
While I agree with what you say logically, I wonder what GM would want an scheming, self-promoting, Luhnow below him on the org chart. That in itself may restrict his hiring opportunities.

No disagreement ... sorta the point I was trying to make. He's claiming he's being blackballed. That might be true (how would I know) but I'm trying to say that even if it isn't, there's a good chance he wouldn't get any offer and, if he did get an offer, it would be start out again lower down the ladder. So, if he's being blackballed, he's got nothing to lose; if he's not being blackballed, he's not likely to make $22 M in whatever MLB future awaits so he may not have much to lose.
   28. BrianBrianson Posted: November 11, 2020 at 02:01 AM (#5988241)
The guy is 55 and presumably is going to get a settlement for "undisclosed terms", but let's assume ~$10 million. He's already wealthy.

And yet everyone assumes he'd want to get another job.

Guess the living in France is starting to seep into me.
   29. Ron J Posted: November 11, 2020 at 09:14 AM (#5988252)
#28 My experience is that needs expand with available money. Never tried it with that level of money but I'd be willing to do so.

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