Houston Astros manager, GM suspended through World Series for team’s sign-stealing

HOUSTON TX- OCTOBER 29 Bench coach Alex Cora #26 and manager A.J. Hinch #14 of the Houston Astros look on from the dugout during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park

Hinch and Luhnow were fired Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, after being suspended for their roles in the team's extensive sign-stealing scheme from 2017. In addition, the Astros will forfeit their first and second round picks in both 2020 and 2021.

While MLB's report says the sign-stealing was "player-driven", it said Luhnow and Hinch knew it was happening and did nothing to stop it. The only thing the Astros have left is their tainted World Series title from 2017. Promoting from within will be hard-the investigation did not find many heroes in the Astros organization-and attracting top talent could well be impossible. The report said the Astros used the team's replay room to decipher the signs of the opposing catcher.

But Crane doesn't believe this whole ordeal takes anything away from the 2017 pennant. While Mets manager Carlos Beltran was part of it, he was a player at the time and thus was not suspended. Manfred said no Astros players will be disciplined because he decided in September 2017 to hold a team's manager and GM responsible. Cora participated in both schemes, and through his active participation, implicitly condoned the players' conduct.

"Although Luhnow denies having any awareness that his replay review room staff was decoding and transmitting signs, there is both documentary and testimonial evidence that indicates Luhnow had some knowledge of those efforts, but he did not give it much attention", Manfred said.

The investigation kicked off in November when former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers detailed to The Athletic how Houston used a hidden video feed to observe opponents' pitching signs. A player would act as a runner to bring the information to the dugout, where a runner on second would be signaled. The replay room was established to provide managers with immediate access to review plays in order to help them decide if they wish to challenge a call on the field.

Stealing signs has always been a part of baseball, and the practice typically involves a team watching the hand signs used by an opposing team, such as those between a catcher and a pitcher.

The center field camera was allowed under Major League Baseball rules to be used primarily for player development. When the Red Sox were fined for using smart phones in the dugout in 2017 to relay sign to baserunners and hitters, Manfred issued an edict that general managers and managers would be held accountable for any further electronic cheating.

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