Punishment Handed Down for Cardinals Hacking Scandal

It’s been a long and arduous process getting here, but it’s finally over. The St. Louis Cardinals hacking scandal, in which employee Chris Correa hacked into the Houston Astros’ system and viewed confidential info on draft prospects and trade information, has mercifully come to a close.

Major League Baseball finally concluded it’s investigation of the 2013 incident, handing down the following punishments:

  • The Cardinals must pay the Astros $2 million, the maximum fine possible.
  • The Cardinals must forfeit their top two picks in the upcoming draft, picks 56 and 75, to Houston.

And that’s it, folks. A $2 million fine and their top two picks in this draft are what the Cardinals are forking over for doing something that was so dumb and minimally beneficial. This is where the Cardinal fan in me is going to come out. I’m not mad at Rob Manfred or the league for the punishment; it seems perfectly reasonable and to some it even seems light. The Astros deserved to be compensated and they rightly were.

However, this was a self-inflicted wound — the Cardinals did it to themselves and they can only blame themselves. The $2 million isn’t worrisome because St. Louis generates roughly $300 million in revenue annually. What really stinks in this situation is the loss of the two picks, because, coupled with the first-round pick the Cardinals lose because they signed Dexter Fowler, they now don’t have a single pick inside the top 100. That stings.

As we all know, baseball is an unpredictable game and no prospect status is written in stone, but not having a crack at any of the top-100 players in the draft hurts. That’s why baseball has so many more rounds than any other sport, because player career arcs are so unpredictable and the more prospects you have and the more times you get a shot to draft a future star, the higher your success rate will be and the better your big-league club will do in the future. And now the Cardinals will be making their first selection while other teams are making their fourth, fifth, or even sixth picks.

So way to go, team! Way to A) make everyone else in baseball hate you even more than they did already, and B) put yourself at a huge disadvantage in the draft.

Now, to be fair, there is another side of the “any prospect can make it” coin. The Cardinals could possibly find a diamond in the rough in the later rounds as they’ve shown a certain proclivity for in the past. Trevor Rosenthal (21st round), Kevin Siegrist (41st round), and Matt Carpenter (13th round) were all late round picks that panned out. But obviously it’s nicer to have more picks higher, and time will only tell how this affects the Cardinals long term.

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