Craig Calcaterra

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 16: Jason Heyward #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals rounds third base after hitting a solo home run against the Miami Marlins in the first inning at Busch Stadium on August 16, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Ex-Cardinals Scouting Director Christopher Correa got access to A LOT of Astros information

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Former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Christopher Correa faced a judge this afternoon and pleaded guilty to five counts of unauthorized access to computer information. He will be sentenced in April. Pursuant to the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the maximum potential penalty on each of the five counts is five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution. Given his lack of a criminal record it’s unlikely to be that stiff, but those are the potential penalties under the statute.

For baseball fans, the most interesting information in all of this comes from the criminal indictment filed by prosecutors today, which you can read in its entirety here. I have copied the stuff of particular interest below. “Victim A” is almost certainly Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow:

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After this, and after a news story about their Ground Control system, the Astros changed passwords, club-wide. Correa was not deterred, however, as he hacked into Luhnow’s email account to get Luhnow’s Ground Control login information. He then went back into the system and got:

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During his hearing, the judge asked Correa what he was intending to do. Correa said, as has been reported in the past, that he was, in effect, trying to determine whether or not the Astros had appropriated the Cardinals’ confidential information when Luhnow left to join the Astros. Which led to this observation from the judge:

Which, yeah, is kind of not cool. Indeed, breaking the law to retrieve what one thinks is stolen is what has O.J. Simpson in a Nevada jail cell right now and has led the arrest and conviction of vigilantes everywhere. That said, the judge asked Correa if he found Cardinals information in the Astros’ system:

That may not raise to a criminal level — there is no allegation Astros people hacked into the Cardinals’ system — but it could be relevant to Major League Baseball in a larger team-to-team information security matter. All of that depends on what Correa is saying he saw, which we do not know yet.

That aside, the level and the amount of information Correa got from the Astros is extraordinary. The defense some have offered — that he was merely checking to see if the Astros stole something — seems like a tiny part of this compared to what he accessed. And the argument I have heard from some people that, “hey, Correa was just walking in an unlocked door, so it’s not a big deal,” is not really true. He walked in, the Astros locked it, so then he broke into Jeff Luhnow’s office, as it were, and stole the keys so he could walk back in again. That is not just idle perusing. That is a concerted effort to carry out corporate espionage.

All of which is to say that this is far from over, especially from a baseball perspective. Correa performed his duties as Cardinals scouting director for over two years while in possession of extensive amounts of Astros’ confidential information. That benefitted him personally and, by extension, benefitted the Cardinals via the acts he took on their behalf with that information in his head. And that’s the case even if he was the sole person involved. If anyone else accessed Ground Control or was made privy to the information Correa obtained, it makes the Cardinals’ collective informational advantage all the greater.

Major League Baseball needs to find out what, if anything the Astros have of the Cardinals, as Correa claims. They need to learn — as they may still learn given that the investigation and the case is not over — what law enforcement knows about anyone else’s involvement. There is still a long way to go. However, based on what is known at the moment, the data breach here was extensive and extraordinary and the Cardinals will likely be facing some stiff, stiff penalties as a result. Maybe financial penalties. Maybe draft pick penalties. Maybe some combination.

Either way, this case is way bigger than people thought it to be yesterday.

Former Cardinals scouting director to be indicted today for hacking the Astros

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Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal reports that ex-Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa will be indicted today on charges arising out of the hacking of the Houston Astros’ database in 2014. Correa is expected to plead guilty to charges related to hacking the Astros. UPDATE: Here is Costa’s full exclusive story.

Costa says between 5-12 charges will be filed. While the charges are yet unknown, the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act would cover such activities. The FBI has been investigating for months. There are serious potential penalties under this law.

Correa was fired by the Cardinals in July following an “imposed leave of absence” which coincided with it being revealed that Cardinals employees were involved in the hacking. GM John Mozeliak, other top brass and Cardinals ownership have all denied involvement. Given that Correa will likely be packaging a guilty plea simultaneously with his indictment, one has to assume that he has cooperated with federal authorities and, perhaps, has given up others as being involved in the crime. It’s also possible, of course, that he’s the only significant Cardinals official involved and that he’s pleading guilty because he’s been caught dead-to-rights. We’ll soon find out.

Last summer it was reported that the impetus for the hack was both (a) concern that former Cards executive Jeff Luhnow took proprietary information with him when he left for Houston to become the Astros’ GM; and (b) lingering resentment over Lunhow’s tenure with the Cardinals, where he was reported to have been a polarizing figure. Correa worked under Luhnow.

Once the criminal case and investigation is over, it will be Major League Baseball’s turn to get involved. It’s hard to imagine, even if Correa was a rogue employee, that the Cardinals won’t be required to provide some sort of compensation to the Astros over all of this because, intentions be damned, the Astros’ confidential information was compromised and it was the fault of Cardinals personnel.

I think of Piazza as a Dodger, but a Mets cap on his plaque is the right call

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Yesterday’s announcement that Mike Piazza will be wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque made sense to me. I, personally, am one of the few people who tend to think of him as a Dodger first, but from a historical and cultural perspective Piazza as a Met is probably more satisfying. His better play happened in Los Angeles, but his more memorable moments and his overall image is as a Met. And, of course, it was his preference, so there is no controversy to be had with this.

Not everyone is 100% happy about it, of course. Apparently Tommy Lasorda is a bit disappointed. That makes sense too given that Lasorda and his friendship with Piazza’s father had a whole heck of a lot to do with Piazza being noticed and, ultimately, drafted. I’m sure that Lasorda isn’t truly angry about it — it’s a funny little idea and I’m sure he and Piazza will trade jokes over it — but I’m generally happy with anything that upsets Tommy Lasorda even a little bit, so this is good from that perspective too.

The logos on Hall of Fame caps have been discussed at length in recent years. It’s been a fairly lively topic at least since Wade Boggs caused a stir when it was suggested that he had an agreement with Tampa Bay to have a Devil Rays cap featured on his Hall of Fame plaque. Either because of that — or by virtue of a grand coincidence — the Hall took the choice away from the players after that and decided that it, with an eye toward properly representing the players’ history, would make the final decision.

The player has input still, and the Hall will go pretty far to accommodate those wishes as long as the choice is not blatantly ahistorical. This is why some guys have blank caps now. The most recent blanks: Greg Maddux and Tony La Russa, much to the chagrin of Cubs, Braves, A’s and Cardinals fans, I suppose. I certainly was miffed that Maddux didn’t have a Braves cap on. His best, most and most famous seasons all happened in Atlanta. But I get it. He has a fondness for his years in Chicago, still works with the Cubs in spring training sometimes and his personal opinions are due respect.

Ultimately, that’s what the caps on the plaques are all about, I suppose. As fans we spend decades making players our own. Judging them. Demanding things of them. Even if they’re more than accommodating in that regard, the fans have an inordinate claim on a player’s time and his image. With the caps on the plaques, the player is given the last word on how he will be remembered, at least within reason. And it’s hard to take issue with that.

Even if Greg Maddux SHOULD TOTALLY BE WEARING A BRAVES CAP.