The St. Louis Cardinals fired their scouting director, the first apparent fallout from the federal investigation into the organization’s alleged hacking into the computer system of the Houston Astros.
The dismissal of Chris Correa, who was named the Cardinals’ scouting director in December after serving as an analyst and director of baseball development, is an indication that the breach of security — in which previously unidentified St. Louis officials allegedly accessed an Astros database that included such privileged information as scouting evaluations and trade discussions — approached the top levels of the Cardinals’ front office.
“After an imposed leave of absence, Chris Correa was terminated by the Cardinals this week,” attorney Jim Martin said in a telephone interview.
Martin said “because this is a personnel matter,” he could not discuss specifics of Correa’s dismissal. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch first reported the Cardinals’ move.
The case, however, scarcely will end with this one move. Correa was originally hired by former St. Louis executive Jeff Luhnow, who left in 2011 to become the Astros’ general manager.
In professing his client’s innocence, Correa’s attorney, Nicholas Williams, said an investigation should look into what information Luhnow and/or other former Cardinals employees took from the franchise when they departed for Houston.
“Mr. Correa denies any illegal conduct,” Williams said in an e-mailed statement. “The relevant inquiry should be what information did former St. Louis Cardinals employees steal from the St. Louis Cardinals organization prior to joining the Houston Astros and who in the Houston Astros organization authorized, consented to or benefited from that roguish behavior.”
Yet obtaining information from a computer without authorization is a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a 1986 federal law that carries penalties ranging from fines to prison sentences of up to 20 years for convicted violators.
The Cardinals began an internal investigation of the hacking allegations after FBI and Justice Department officials began to probe who gained access to the Astros’ database, known as Ground Control, in 2013. Martin, the Cardinals’ attorney, said the internal investigation is “ongoing.” He said last month that top Cardinals officials such as General Manager John Mozeliak were not targets of the federal investigations, and he said Thursday the club’s own probe had turned up no indication of Mozeliak’s involvement.
Mozeliak did not immediately responded to a request for comment.
Correa came to the Cardinals in 2009 to work in statistical analysis. After Luhnow’s departure, he was promoted to manager of baseball development and then was promoted to director of that department. When scouting director Dan Kantrovitz left last offseason to become the assistant general manager of the Oakland Athletics, Mozeliak promoted Correa to serve as scouting director, a position from which he oversaw the Cardinals’ June draft.