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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Revisiting Correa’s Time Table of Cooperation

Though it might have seemed the Chris Correa hacking case would fade into the background, it is not yet the case.

Correa-200-7472Reportedly through family members, the now-jailed former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director issued a surprise statement via Twitter on Tuesday, the day after Major League Baseball announced penalties in which the Cardinals will send money and draft picks to the Houston Astros as punishment to his former employer for his misdeeds.

In his Tuesday statement, Correa reiterates his claim that the Astros accessed proprietary Cardinals information and accuses MLB of applying sanctions “arbitrarily”. He asserts the Cardinals were not the ones that “benefited from unauthorized access”.

Correa wrote that he offered to meet twice with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred – in May and June 2015 – but was ignored. Though not mentioned in his statement, it is important to remember that Correa was still a Cardinals employee at that point and had not been identified publicly as being involved in anything.

The Federal investigation, which had already been underway for months, was first disclosed to the public by the New York Times on June 16, 2015. Correa did not specify when in June his offer was made.

What Correa also does not explain is why he reportedly refused to cooperate with MLB investigators later on.

Manfred said all along that MLB would be unable to not carry out its own probe until the Federal work was done. Given that, it does not seem surprising that Manfred would not want to meet with Correa during the first half of 2015, while the Federal investigation was still very active.

Even though Correa had been fired by the Cardinals in early July 2015, he was not charged with any crimes until his guilty plea was announced in January 2016. He was sentenced in July and reported to prison in late August 2016.

In other words, Manfred was not ready or able to start his investigation until 2016, months after Correa says he had come forward with his offers to meet.

My sense, albeit from the distance, is that it appears Correa was willing to talk when he thought it could help him, but any offer of cooperation seemed to end as his troubles mounted.

Another interesting disclosure

Also on Tuesday morning, Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. appeared on the Bernie Miklasz radio show in St. Louis. Though I was not listening, one of the live tweets from the show’s Twitter account included the following:

From my point of view, this is significant news. This is the first time I have seen the Cardinals admit what seemed highly likely to most of us all along – that Correa had shared his concern that the Astros had stolen Cardinals information with other team employees. This backs up similar comments Correa made under oath.

What remains unsaid is who the others were and why they were not disciplined for not coming forward. Or did they come forward?

DeWitt and general manager John Mozeliak were clear from the very start that they were unaware of the hacking until contacted by the Feds. But does that also mean they were unaware of Correa’s allegations that Houston stole Cardinals’ information? Or did they learn of his concerns and decide to not pursue the matter?

If the latter occurred, could it have contributed to a potentially disgruntled Correa going rogue, escalating his illegal access over months and months, yet unknown to all others around him? If so, it could help explain why the Cardinals organization was considered partially accountable by MLB.

Some interesting potential twists may remain in a case that seemed wrapped up just yesterday.

Update

Mid-day Tuesday, Manfred issued the following statement. It is consistent with my conclusions above.

One interesting side point is that it suggests Correa’s lifetime ban from baseball was not due to his hacking, but because of his later unwillingness to cooperate.

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12 Responses to “Revisiting Correa’s Time Table of Cooperation”

  1. CariocaCardinal says:

    I dont believe there is a legal prohibition against MLB conducting a simultaneous investigation. That was something MLB chose not to do.

    I always assumed that any Cardinal proprietary data that migrated to Houstin was in the heads of employees or physical work product. I may have missed it but this is the first I’ve heard of a potential illegal electronic access charge (hacking) against Houston. Was that even investigated?

    • Brian Walton says:

      If I am not mistaken, the Cardinals did not choose to file a grievance with MLB. As was confirmed in Manfred’s ruling, the Astros did make a formal complaint about the Cardinals. Can’t say what happened on the Federal side. Guessing they would have needed evidence of some kind, which could have been a self-incriminating problem for Correa. Don’t recall seeing anything one way or another about the Feds looking into it.

      On the simultaneous investigation, the Cardinals did conduct their own while the Feds were active, but chose to wait until the New York Times story. As a result, it took four months before Correa was suspended. Manfred probably learned that getting information midway was not going to be easy. I understand why he waited. Heck, it even took six months after the sentencing for him to get enough info to rule.

      • CariocaCardinal says:

        I don’t have a problem with MLB waiting to do their investigation. I do have a problem with them saying they were prohibited/ unable to do their investigation during the FBI investigation. They chose not to.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Manfred did not say he was prohibited to the best of my knowledge. He said he needed access to the Feds’ findings, which he could not get until they were done.

          Oh, I get it. You are quibbling with my words. I made a minor adjustment above to make it clearer.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Here is exactly what Manfred said on June 16, 2015, right after the NY Times story outed the Federal investigation.

          “Realistically, with this sort of allegation, because we don’t have subpoena power for third-party servers and the like, it would be extraordinarily difficult for us to do anything as close to as good as what the federal government can do,” Manfred said in a press conference at Fenway Park. “I think we’re going to have to rely on what we learn from the federal government.”

          Manfred called the allegations a “great concern” to the league, but stressed multiple times that MLB would await the results of the FBI’s investigation before acting acting on the matter.

          http://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/06/mlb-commissioner-rob-manfred-cardinals-hacking-astros-probe-fbi

  2. CariocaCardinal says:

    I’m not sure I’d cooperate either if I got nothing in return.

  3. blingboy says:

    Mr. Correa said he will have no further comment while he is incarcerated. I feel quite sure we will hear a great deal from him thereafter. I have already cleared space on my bookshelf. (And I wonder who will play Mo? Any thoughts, anyone?)

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