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Cardinals fined $2 million, must send two draft picks to Astros as hacking penalty

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The punishment for the incident in which former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa hacked into the Houston Astros scouting and analytics database has been issued: The Cardinals have been fined $2 million and must surrender two draft picks to the Astros.

The picks are their two highest in this year’s draft: a second round pick, which is the 56th overall and a Compensation Round B pick, which is the 75th overall pick. Moreover, Correa,was sentenced to 46 months in prison for the hack, has been placed on the permanently ineligible list and will no longer be able to hold a job in Major League Baseball. The Commissioner has issued a formal set of findings with respect to the matter. They are set out in full below.

The money, in the grand scheme of things, is not much for a major league baseball team. That’s less than the Cardinals will pay reliever Seung-hwan Oh in 2017. The draft picks are more costly, though not substantially so. As the Post-Dispatch reporter earlier this month the Cards spent aggressively in the international market in the past year or so, inspired in part, one can assume, to compensate for the anticipated loss of draft picks due to the sanction that has now been levied.

I’m sure many will question whether this was sufficient punishment for the Cardinals. My personal view is that, as institutional punishment, it’s rather light given what transpired. Others will likely argue that it was too severe due to Manfred’s findings that only Correa was responsible for the hack and the Cards’ liability here was only vicarious.

I think it’s fair to say that the long prison sentence given Correa in this incident — too long if you ask me — is a far greater deterrent to such acts being committed in the future than anything MLB could do to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Here are Commissioner Manfred’s findings:

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James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.