On Tuesday the New York Times broke the story that the F.B.I. was investigating St. Louis Cardinals employees for stealing information from the Houston Astros. There has to date been no reporting indicating that law enforcement officials believe that the data theft was part of a concerted effort on the part of the Cardinals organization to gain a leg up competitively. Instead, it appears to have been rogue employees acting out of pettiness. The perpetrators were "mid-to-low-level staff," according to the Wall Street Journal, who the Times reports were "hoping to wreak havoc on the work of Jeff Luhnow, the Astros’ general manager, who had been a successful and polarizing executive with the Cardinals until 2011."
St. Louis chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and GM John Mozeliak broke their silence on the hack and investigation on Wednesday. The two issued a joint statement condemning the data theft and promising to punish any individual employed by the Cardinals and found to have committed wrongdoing. In a Wednesday telephone interview with USA Today, St. Louis GM John Mozeliak denied that he had any knowledge of the information theft before learning of the F.B.I. inquiry. On Thursday, chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. did the same.
There's another reason the accusation of cheating leveled by some against the Cardinals doesn't hold water: The information would quickly become obsolete. In other words, even if the Cardinals stole proprietary data that the Astros used to evaluate or value players, its shelf life would be so short that it would quickly become useless. If you don't believe me, just ask Luhnow.
Luhnow broke his silence on the F.B.I. investigation in an interview with Sports Illustrated. Ben Reiter's full article is worth reading in its entirety (for the tidbits on password security, Luhnow's relationship with DeWitt, Mozeliak, etc.). Here's Luhnow on the limited worth of any pilfered information or data:
Further, Luhnow added, the idea that one team’s outdated intellectual property would have remained helpful to a rival even in the short term is illogical. "If you were to take a snapshot of the database of one team, within a month it would not be useful anymore, because things change so quickly," he said. "Not to mention that the types of analysis you would do back in 2011, versus 2012 or '13 , is evolving so quickly because of new tools like PitchFX and StatCast. I wouldn’t trust another team’s analysis even if I had it."
So there you have it. Even if one assumes for the sake of argument (even though there is no reporting to support such an allegation) that the Cardinals front office orchestrated a Watergate-type information theft in order to attempt to gain a competitive edge, the loot from such a heist would be obsolete "within a month," according to Luhnow. Cardinals employees hacking the Astros would not have given the club a competitive advantage. It would be a waste of time to even attempt to cheat in this way.