St. Louis Cardinals

DeWitt: If there were hackers, ‘they will be held accountable’

Bill DeWitt, left, with then Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and Albert Pujols at the 50th Annual St. Louis Baseball Writers Dinner in January, 2008.
Bill DeWitt, left, with then Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and Albert Pujols at the 50th Annual St. Louis Baseball Writers Dinner in January, 2008. News-Democrat

St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt on Wednesday promised a thorough investigation into allegations that team officials hacked Houston Astros computer accounts.

“These are serious allegations that don’t reflect who we are as an organization,” DeWitt said. “We are committed to getting to the bottom of this matter as soon as possible, and if anyone within our organization is determined to be involved in anything inappropriate, they will be held accountable.”

When the team was made aware of the FBI inquiry several months ago, DeWitt said, he and General Manager John Mozeliak hired St. Louis attorney Jim Martin and the law firm of Dowd Bennett to assist the team in providing requested information to the federal government.

The team is also conducting an internal inquiry to identify any employee that may have engaged in hacking computer accounts of Houston General Manager Jeff Luhnow, who took that post after leaving the Cardinals following the 2011 season.

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“The alleged conduct has no place in our game,” Mozeliak said. “We hold ourselves to the highest standards in every facet of our organization. It has been that way forever and is certainly true today. We are committed to finding out what happened. To the extent we can substantiate that these allegations have merit, we will take appropriate action against anyone involved.”

“The internal inquiry is not yet complete,” said Martin, a former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri. “In the meantime, we wish to respect the process and avoid saying anything which would interfere with the government's investigation.”

The allegations of wrongdoing came to light in a report Tuesday in The New York Times, which indicated the Cardinals front-office personnel were trying to steal closely guarded information about player personnel. Legal experts told The Washington Post that those employees could face prison time if convicted of computer espionage.

Investigators have uncovered evidence that Cardinals officials broke into a network of the Astros that housed special databases the team had built, according to law enforcement officials. Internal discussions about trades, proprietary statistics and scouting reports were compromised, the officials said.

Luhnow said in June 2014 that the team had been the victim of hackers who accessed servers and published months of internal trade talks on the Internet.

“It was an illegal activity and we’re going to pursue it and try and find out who did it and prosecute,” Luhnow said at the time, noting that the team was working with the FBI and Major League Baseball security to determine who was responsible for the breach.

The Astros rely heavily on sabermetrics in their evaluation of players and have been open about the fact that they use an online database to house their proprietary information. Luhnow has said other teams store data about players and trades online.

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