Hacked computers, Internet leaks, FBI intervention.
These are things normally reserved for a season of 24, not late June in the Major League Baseball season. However, on Monday afternoon, the story at Minute Maid Park had nothing to do with the baseball game set to take place that night against the Seattle Mariners.
Instead, the story of the day was an explosive piece on Deadspin in which reams of notes (lifted from a site called Anonbin, where people anonymously post information from hacked accounts) from the Astros' "Ground Control" database system were released, revealing around ten months' worth of notes on potential trades and prospects from the Astros' and about a dozen other teams' farm systems.
By Monday afternoon, no mole had been found, but the Astros had issued this statement in response to the Deadspin report:
"Last month, we were made aware that proprietary information held on Astros' servers and in Astros' applications had been illegally obtained. Upon learning of the security breach, we immediately notified MLB security who, in turn, notified the FBI. Since that time, we have been working closely with MLB security and the FBI to the determine the party, or parties, responsible. This information was illegally obtained and published, and we intend to prosecute those involved to the fullest extent.
"It is unfortunate and extremely disappointing that an outside source has illegally obtained confidential information. While it does appear that some of the content released was based on trade conversations, a portion of the material was embellished or completely fabricated."
As mentioned, the details of the notes can be found in the Deadspin post. In reading them, here are six things that we learned:
6. The MLB trade process is not all that different from your fantasy baseball league's trade process. Growing up, you watch MLB trades being made by adults. Then you grow up and become one of the adults, and you see the trades being put together by men in suits with seven-figure salaries (or as George Costanza calls them, "MEN WITH JOBS, JERRY!"), and you envision the construction of each deal being some massive, elaborate process. And then you read this Deadspin piece and you see that it's really just a bunch of calls and emails back and forth between dudes, and you realize their process is not all that different from October in your fantasy football league. Just with real people, and a "moving and living" budget.
5. The Astros were shooting for the moon in trading Bud Norris last summer. Speaking of your fantasy football league, if it's anything like mine, you have the one guy who overvalues all of his guys, and has a conversion chart where one of his running backs is worth three of your starters, and conversely one of your running backs is worth his kicker. Well, that was Jeff Luhnow trying to move Bud Norris, who eventually was traded to Baltimore in a deal that brought L.J. Hoes (and all of the attached jokes about his name) into our lives.
4. The Astros may have held onto Lucas Harrell a little too long. Teams were actually offering real players for Harrell last season at the trade deadline. The Astros held onto him. Eventually, they traded him at the end of April this season (along with his 9.39 ERA) to Arizona for a player to be named later.
3. Wow, there were a bunch of teams that wanted Jason Castro this past spring. By my count, five teams (Blue Jays, Rangers, White Sox, Angels and Mariners) inquired about the Astros' catcher, three of them in the division.
2. The Marlins offered the Astros slugger Giancarlo Stanton in exchange for George Springer and Carlos Correa. According to the reports, the Astros turned this trade down (thank God). Luhnow countered by offering a package centered around Delino DeShields Jr. and Jarred Cosart. Miami countered the Astros' counter by texting Luhnow a big picture of a middle finger.
1. Poor Ichiro almost wound down the last part of his Hall of Fame career playing for a team trying to stay under 100 losses. In the final note on the Deadspin piece, the Yankees offered Ichiro Suzuki to the Astros and would have paid $4.5 of his $6.5 million salary in the process, meaning the Astros would have gotten a future Hall of Famer in what could very well be his final season for the low, low price of $2 million, an amount that still would have made Ichiro one of the ten highest paid Astros.
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If you're looking for a sign of progress with this team, this time last season, $2 million would have made Ichiro the second highest paid Astro behind Norris. Baby steps, it's the little things.
The Astros have called a press conference for 3 p.m. this afternoon to announce Chloe O'Brian as their new Director of Decision Sciences.
(NOTE: They didn't really.)