Ex-Astros GM believes MLB let Red Sox off the hook for sign-stealing originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora landed manager jobs recently, but their former Houston Astros general manager is still out of a job. And Jeff Luhnow apparently is still bitter about how Major League Baseball's sign-stealing investigation went down.
MLB came down hard on the Astros last January, suspending Luhnow and Hinch (and later Cora) one year each while fining Houston $5 million and docking the team four draft picks after uncovering its extensive 2017 sign-stealing operation.
The league also investigated the Red Sox for stealing signs during the 2018 season, but Boston received much lighter discipline: the suspension of video replay operator J.T. Watkins and the loss of a 2020 second-round pick.
For Luhnow, MLB's punishment didn't fit the Red Sox' crime.
"They were caught twice— they were caught in 2017, and then they were caught again in 2018 — and that's recidivism," Luhnow said on Radio.com's "The Edge: Houston Astros" podcast.
"I don't hear anybody asking how the front office there could not know. The only people that got punished were a video person, and they pretty much let everybody else off the hook, so it doesn't pass the sniff test for me or for a lot of baseball fans as well."
What Luhnow didn't mention was that MLB discovered a much more elaborate sign-stealing scheme in Houston that involved several players, coaches and team personnel. The Red Sox indeed were punished in 2017 for using Apple Watches to steal signs, but MLB determined their 2018 plot was "far more limited" in its scope.
Luhnow clearly believes Boston's cheating ran deeper than Watkins, though, and that the Astros were made out to be MLB's scapegoat.
"The easiest solution for Rob Manfred, for MLB — for any sport commissioner, really — is to try and pin it all on one team," Luhnow said. " ... Then you basically say, 'Look, we found the problem. We eradicated it.' And it's no longer a problem.
"We know it's a systemic problem. ... I think everybody in the industry does. MLB does, too, but they don't really want to talk about it."
While Cora has apologized for his wrongdoing in Houston as he starts a new chapter in Boston, Luhnow is walking a decidedly different path: He recently sued the Astros for breach of contract.