The St. Louis Cardinals are widely regarded as one of the best-run and most clean-cut franchises in Major League Baseball. That is, until Tuesday morning.
The Cardinals shocked the sports and baseball world Tuesday when a New York Times report revealed that they were under FBI investigation for hacking into the files of the Houston Astros.
The files reportedly held player ranking information, trade discussions and more as part of the organization’s “collective baseball knowledge.”
In 2011, then-Cardinals assistant general manager Jeff Luhnow left to take the general manager position in Houston.
The 2011 season also was Arizona Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa’s final season as St. Louis’ manager, winning the World Series over the Texas Rangers in seven games.
La Russa told Doug & Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday that he denied any involvement in the reported hacking scandal.
“I have absolutely no involvement,” La Russa said. “I have not talked to anybody in St. Louis. I think I sent a text to (AZCentral and Arizona Sports’) Dan Bickley and my comment is they have a long history (in St. Louis) of doing things right on and off the field with very few mistakes.
“(The history) was there when I got there, it continues to be that way. I’ve been trying in my own private way without asking anybody how something like this would be possible.”
La Russa told Doug & Wolf that he was “shocked” at the New York Times report.
“I can’t believe that there’s something more that isn’t explainable,” La Russa said.
LaRussa said his relationship with Luhnow began before the two even got to St. Louis.
“Jeff’s entire time with the Cardinals, I was there,” La Russa said. “I remember when he was first introduced by (Cardinals president) Bill DeWitt to our organization, and Bill was excited to begin our analytics department and Jeff was going to head it.
“Years ago, Jeff was in the Bay Area with Petstore.com, and he was going to help (La Russa’s then-team, the Oakland Athletics) out. It’s a small world.”
La Russa, who said he himself is no technology buff, said he is aware of the growing problems with hacking.
“I’m not clueless with this stuff,” La Russa said. “I know, whether it’s our government or whether it’s a company that you should do business with personally or it’s the Diamondbacks, we have provide every safeguard possible…it’s just not right.”
La Russa said Luhnow’s files while with the Cardinals should still be in St. Louis, as they are under contract to be the organization’s property, not Luhnow’s.
“When you sign a contract, what you create remains property of the Cardinals or the organization you work for,” La Russa said. “Jeff left, and a lot of his guys are still in (St. Louis), they’re still doing the work. It’s a bit nebulous to me where the blame is going to fall here.”
La Russa said that upon his arrival in Arizona midway through the 2014 season, the Diamondbacks are attempting to create an analytics database similar to that of the Cardinals and Astros under Luhnow.
“When I got here, one of the things that was obvious for years, I preferred the tried and true way that I call ‘observational analytics,'” La Russa said. “I watch and see two guys play, you can hit or you can’t…there’s a lot of information that is helpful now, and we’re just creating.
“Prior to us taking the big plunge, we were very lightly using the metrics in order to compete. We are in the process of developing it.”
La Russa said any information gained in the reported hacking would have little impact.
“It’s marginal, in my opinion,” he said. “Every organization, even (the Diamondbacks), analyzes the other 29 teams…there’s so many ways that you can figure out almost exactly what a team is looking for. There aren’t many secrets.”