Saying he was a scapegoat, Jeff Luno is suing Astros

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Jeff Loneau, former general manager of the Houston Astros, is free to serve in Major League Baseball again. His suspension for a year – a penalty for Team Signals theft scandal – Expired at the end of the World Championship, as has the suspension of former Astros manager AG Hensch and former substitute coach Alex Cora.

But while Hinch and Cora are already back as directors – Hensch for Detroit TigersAnd the Cora, Boston Red Sox – Luhnow remained in exile. He has now filed a lawsuit against Astros in Harris County (Texas), demanding the $ 22 million remaining in his contract when owner Jim Crane fired him in January. The lawsuit alleges that the “defective report negotiated with Crane” by Commissioner Rob Manfred was an invalid basis for his dismissal.

The lawsuit said: “The Astros’ termination for Luhnow is an attempt – like the commissioner before them – to make Luhnow a scapegoat for the organization while not punishing the players and video room staff who created and implemented the blueprints.” Even more egregiously, most of the criminals in the signal theft scheme remained club employees. Astros prepared grounds for firing Luhnow “for the cause” in order to save more than $ 22 million in guaranteed salary.

Luno declined to comment, citing advice from his lawyer. Astros and Major League Baseball did not respond to their lawsuit, but they were expected to do so later on Monday.

The Astros hired Luno in December 2011, drawn by his stickiness to data and willingness to challenge traditional methods of finding talent, as he did as a scout manager at the St. Louis Cardinals. The Astros were the worst team in the major leagues at the time, and Luno kept that way for another two seasons, bearing with prospects that will soon help transform the team.

By 2015, they had reached the playoffs, and in 2017 they had won their first World Championship, overtaking the Los Angeles Dodgers while winning eight of nine home matches in the post-season. They returned to the World Championships in 2019 but lost to Washington Nationals, who won all four matches played in Houston.

Last November – with unofficial confirmation from former Astros pitcher Mike Viers – I mentioned sports That Astros had stolen the signals throughout 2017 by reading catcher signs from the TV screen and hitting the trash can to alert the hitters to the next pitch. The activity continued even after the MLB warned all teams of cyber espionage.

Manfred Granting of immunity As for the players who were on the team at the time in exchange for cooperating with his investigation, and while he fined Crane $ 5 million and awarded four drafts to Astros, he was heavily criticized for not punishing the players or stripping the Astros of their title.

The lawsuit alleges that Manfred “allowed the gang leader to retain his position in exchange for providing information that would implicate Luno,” and goes on to identify Tom Koch and Yesser, listed as the team’s advance information manager, as the mastermind. The lawsuit said Manfred ignored more than 22,000 text messages and chats from Yesser’s hut

The lawsuit states that “frankly, none of these messages sent or received by Koch-Weser Luhnow include or indicate that he has any awareness of the activity,” adding that Koch-Weser “sent a text message to his colleagues” and confirmed that Luhnow was never aware of being involved in the scheme.

However, Luhnow has co-created a system called Codebreaker that uses an algorithm to decode signal sequences. But the lawsuit argued that the effort was only made after the games had been completed, not in real time, and that Manfred admitted it was not a rule violation. Regarding an August 2017 email the league used to implicate Luhnow, the lawsuit said that while it refers to “Dark Arts”, it does not mention theft of electronic signals within the game.

The lawsuit alleges that Coach Visser was the only witness implicating Luno, and that Coach Visser “lied repeatedly” to save his job. The lawsuit said Luhnow gave appropriate warnings to employees about following the rules for electronic equipment, and that it was unrealistic to expect him to be aware of the activities of every member of his crew.

Astros signed Luhnow in May 2018 to extend a $ 31 million contract, plus performance bonuses and dividends interest at Houston Baseball Partners LLC. Several teams have open leadership positions in baseball operations, including the Mets, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins and the Philadelphia Phillies, but Luno, who is writing a book, has not appeared publicly as a candidate for any opening.

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