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Former Astros GM Luhnow again denies wrongdoing

Field Level Media

October 20, 2020 at 7:25 pm.

Former Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow is again denying that he had any knowledge about the team’s sign-stealing scandal during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Luhnow was suspended for one year by Major League Baseball and fired by the Astros for his role in the scandal. But he told KPRC in Houston that he received access to 22,000 text messages from the team’s video room personnel and the messages exonerate him from wrongdoing.

“It’s pretty clear who was involved in the video-decoding scheme, when it started, how often it happened and basically when it ended. And it’s also pretty clear who was not involved,” Luhnow told the television station. “And I don’t know why that information, that evidence, wasn’t discussed in the ruling, wasn’t used. The people who were involved that didn’t leave naturally to go to other teams are all still employed by the Astros.

“In fact, one of the people who was intimately involved, I had demoted from a position in the clubhouse to a position somewhere else, and after I was fired, he was promoted back into the clubhouse. So none of those people faced any repercussions. They weren’t discussed in the report, but the evidence is all there that they were involved.”

Luhnow, 54, was stunned there was no action taken against more of the video room employees, saying MLB had access to the texts.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred disagreed with Luhnow’s account during an ESPN Radio appearance on Tuesday.

“The 22,000 electronic messages that Jeff talked about over and over again were a fraction of the evidence in the case,” Manfred said. “There was a lot of other evidence — electronic, testimonial — which indicated Jeff’s culpability in this matter.

“Secondly, whether he exactly knew what was going on or not is really beside the point. After the Apple Watch incident (when the Red Sox used the devices to steal signs against the Yankees), I wrote to all the GMs. I put them on notice that it was their obligation to make sure that their organizations were not violating any of the sign-stealing rules.

“I think it’s pretty clear from the facts that Mr. Luhnow failed to discharge that obligation. He damaged the game, and as a result, he was disciplined.”

Astros manager AJ Hinch also was suspended for a season by MLB and fired by the Astros for his part in the scandal. The team was using a camera-based system to steal the opposing catcher’s signs and would tip off what pitch was coming to hitters by banging a trash can.

The Astros won the World Series in 2017, a season they were using the system extensively.

Luhnow spent eight-plus seasons as Houston’s general manager prior to his dismissal.