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5 key takeaways from MLB’s report on the Astros sign-stealing system

Astros fire Hinch, Luhnow over sign-stealing scheme
Astros fire Hinch, Luhnow over sign-stealing scheme


Major League Baseball released a nine-page report from Commissioner Rob Manfred, issuing punishment and context behind the Astros sign-stealing allegations.

The main takeaways are the punishments. Here are five of the most important takeaways from the report.

1. WHAT THE ASTROS DID

The original plan was to have lower-level staffers use the center field video to call in signals to the dugout. Later, the players devised a way to make that process quicker. The MLB’s investigation found the original idea was to have a runner in the replay room decode the signs, then call Astros Bench Coach Alex Cora. From there, the players improved on it, putting a monitor in the dugout to decode the signs instantly. Along with that, they would bang on a trash can signaling what type of pitch was coming.

2. A.J. HINCH’S CULPABILITY

A.J. Hinch is on the receiving end of harsh punishment. He’s been suspended for a year, plus fired by Astros owner Jim Crane. According to MLB’s investigation, Hinch never explicitly told players to stop the conduct, but believed it was wrong and distracting. Hinch even damaged the monitor twice, according to the investigation. Hinch has been punished for knowing, but not doing enough about it.

3. THE FULL PUNISHMENT

- 1 year suspension for manager A.J. Hinch

- 1 year suspension for General Manager Jeff Lunhow

- $5 million fine (the largest MLB allows)

- Loss of 1st and 2nd round draft picks in 2020 and 2021

Hinch and Lunhow have since been fired. The fine shouldn’t affect the Astros much, but the draft picks will. While the Astros have had plenty of draft pick misses in the past decade, the team is built on homegrown players. Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and George Springer were all first round picks who became tremendous hits for Houston.

4. ALEX CORA

According to the report, Alex Cora was heavily involved in developing both the original plan and the trash can-banging scheme. Cora is now the manager of the Boston Red Sox, and is under further investigation by Major League Baseball for sign stealing within the 2018 Red Sox World Series-winning team. Cora is likely to be punished soon.

5. ASTROS MANAGEMENT CULTURE

Rob Manfred made sure to list observations about the Astros front office and the Brandon Taubman incident. Manfred called the culture of the Astros baseball operations department “problematic.” Taubman has since been dismissed.