The case for — and against — Jeff Luhnow

Many folks saw the belated one on one interview of Jeff Luhnow on TV Monday night approximately 9 months after he and A.J. Hinch were fired as GM and manager of the Astros, respectively. But if you missed it, here is the Cliff Notes summary of what Luhnow said.

“The Astros cheated in their 2017 season and the seeds of the cheating probably began in 2016 and did not end until sometime in the 2018 season. The Astros were too talented to have to do this. I did not know about this, just like Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Reid Ryan and Jim Crane did not know about this. The Commissioner decided early on he was not going to punish the players or (except for a fine) the owner. But egged on by teams like the Dodgers, there had to be a pound of flesh taken and that punishment fell upon Hinch and me. I have all sorts of evidence I knew nothing, but MLB came investigating until they found what they were looking for to punish me. I was punished based on what one person (I think his name rhymes with Lynch) said, which was that I must have known. Please believe me, I did not know and I waited this long to be interviewed on this subject, so I would not disrupt the Astros playoff run. That is all. Nothing else to see here.”

There are reasons to believe what Luhnow said. He came across very believable. Perhaps that was because he knew exactly what he was going to be asked, but let’s face it for most people, if they lie, it shows. And even knowing a question is coming does not help, actually the anticipation of that question can result in a reaction that shows up on his face or in some inadvertent tic or movement. Jeff seemed straight forward and with a little melancholy.

Also, as someone who used to supervise 200 people, there definitely could be things happening under him that he did not know about. Sometimes a big part of management is trusting those folks below you and not micro-managing their movements. There were things that happened that I may not have known about. There likely were things that happened that Jeff Luhnow did not know about.

But…. there are things that bother us anyways.

  • Why did he wait this long to do an interview? A.J. Hinch famously faced the music in an excruciatingly long interview shortly after the firing. This felt like he waited until he had the right situation with a lot more of the emotion out of the moment and with a local reporter, who undoubtedly agreed with him on what questions were going to be asked ahead of time.
  • Even if he did not know what was going on, is it way out of bounds to expect him to know what was going on in his clubhouse and with his team? Wasn’t it his responsibility to know that?
  • He was also responsible for who was in that clubhouse as far as which players, coaches, video operators, sign code breakers, etc. Did he bring in people that were impeccable or did he bring in people that were a bit edgier?
  • And the one that won’t let me jump on the Luhnow bandwagon, wasn’t he responsible for creating a culture where someone would be compelled to tell him what was happening? Either he had created a culture where the players/coaches thought he was in favor of anything that gave the team an edge or he had created a culture where those around the team were afraid to tell him what had happened. Either way, he created a culture where he did not know what happened. Or he lied about it.

In the end, this interview probably did not leave the fans feeling any better than the A.J. Hinch did. The team, unnecessarily, let us down and tarnished the joy of what was the greatest moment in our baseball lifetime.

Neither confessing to it or denying it will ever take away the pain we feel and will probably feel until the team wins the big one on their own.

42 comments on “The case for — and against — Jeff Luhnow

  1. So, this is the opportunity to vent and I will do it:
    -This scandal is the worst thing that has ever happened to the Astros in it’s history. It happened in Luhnow’s area of management, in his yard and it was perpetrated by his hirelings and by people he gave responsibility to.
    If his manager knew about it and hated it, why didn’t his manager have the open door to walk into Luhnow’s office and get it stopped.
    It is ludicrous for an executive to have allowed something this bad to happen to his organization and then to have the gall to deny that he is to blame.
    In my opinion, this interview is almost as bad as the job Luhnow did in ruining the reputation of my favorite team. I am ready for the slow and painful process of weaning out the rest of people involved in it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes, as I said the other day, he was pretty believable in the interview where softballs were lobbed at him. Why didn’t he tell ESPN he was ready to talk? They would have jumped at the chance to grill him. And again, he did not have a pulse on his charges. That’s his job. But what I still don’t get is why he has not sued MLB or Crane if he’s an innocent in the whole sordid affair?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thought I’d circle back around for a good ol’ — chuckle & I told ya so. You know me, dave ha!

      You can correct me if wrong, but you seemed quite keen on Taubman doing a Tell-All, or suing , and said he would never work in baseball again.

      I mentioned that Manfred added a caveat that he could come back with written permission (the league wanted to play down the scene), and that he’d never do anything to hurt his career further by blabbering further. Well, here’s the follow-up.

      “Throughout his unemployment, Taubman tried to make amends by volunteering 20 hours a month at a local domestic violence organization while also attending therapy in an effort to help smooth out some of his rough edges. These acts of contrition and a seeming desire for self-improvement are important first steps, though it figures to be a long time until Taubman earns his way back into the good graces of MLB, if he ever does.”

      https://www.radio.com/sports/mlb/colleague-calls-astros-exec-worst-person-ive-worked-with

      My take is he thought he was too smart for his own britches. The l’il guy never really played hard-nosed ball, or he would have had a better sense of fair play.

      Like

  3. Since this is a new post on a different subject, I would like to finish a point I made on the last subject.
    I did some research early this morning on which team has some money for 2021, is right in the middle of playoff contention and has a need for a player of George Springer’s talent and experience in their outfield and in their lineup.
    Convinced that there are few teams out there that are ready for a guy like him and whom Springer might consider, I came up with the White Sox as my choice.
    About 30 minutes ago I finished reading MLBTR’s Chat from yesterday in which Steve Adam’s said the the White Sox were their pick as Springer’s possible destination.
    There are no teams that have as big a need for Springer than Houston, but CWS have a lot more payroll room and their urgency may be even greater.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The interview basically ignores what has been reported to be a toxic work environment under Luhnow. It sure sounds like there are a lot of other people who should have lost their jobs as well. Who was responsible for hiring, promoting, and encouraging those folks? I’ll bet it was the same folks who wrote the press releases and forced Luhnow to sign his name to them, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah he sounded pretty weak on the Taubman affair – I’m not sure from what he said if he actually reviewed the press release or only said he did when he went in front of the angry press.
      I don’t know who wrote that press release and who had the final say on reviewing it – but that was the most tin ear piece of you know what I’ve seen. In some ways it confirms he was involved because his modus operandi is that – we are right and others are wrong – which he follows to this day.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I did not care to watch the Luhnow interview and still have not watched it. Whether he knew of the cheating or not, he got what he deserved. I actually agree with Rob Manfred on this:

    Manfred, however, maintained in an ESPN Radio interview that Luhnow deserved his punishment. He said it was “beside the point” whether Luhnow explicitly directed illegal activity to occur.

    “I wrote to all the GMs, and I put them on notice that it was their obligation to make sure that their organizations were not violating any of the sign-stealing rules,” Manfred said. “I think it’s pretty clear from the facts that Mr. Luhnow failed to discharge that obligation. He damaged the game, and as a result, he was disciplined.”

    https://www.sportingnews.com/us/mlb/news/astros-gm-jeff-luhnow-scandal-mlb-punishment/19u7wqha528bu1kh2z605nz9ek

    Let’s win the WS in 2021 and forget this whole mess.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Two things:
    What happened in 2017 will NEVER go away. “It” will haunt this team 30yrs from now. Trust me….the announcers WILL talk about it, and talk about it, and talk about it. Luhnow allowed “it” and turned his head. So no he doesn’t get a pass…neither does Hinch. As much as I loved Hinch and his players loved him, he COULD have shut it down, but he didn’t.
    2. Manfred is a bonified jerk…he let Cora off with a slap on the wrist even though he KNEW Cora did the same thing in 2018 that he did with the Astros in 2017. BUT the oh so “sweet home Alabama”Red Sox could NOT be allowed to be punished, Manfred looked away and blew Cora a kiss😠. And I hope Beltran never even SNIFFS the door of the HOF.
    By the way there were *8* other teams suspected of cheating in 2018, one of them were the Holier-than-thou Dodgers.
    I’m done.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Gostros1 – replying to your reply on the other topic, I don’t expect Springer or Brantley to take (considerably) less money in their quest to win. What I’m saying is I don’t expect to see one of them sign with a team just because they open the checkbook and want to write the biggest check. If they come back to Houston it would be because the financials made sense, they believed this team can sustain their success, and they want to do so. I’d be pretty shocked if the first criteria is met – especially with the Verlander injury. Looking at the division, I still don’t see any reason they can’t win the West in 2021. I don’t have any insider information supporting the case of the third. What I would say is that this could be an awful market due to uncertainty surrounding the operating financials in the immediate future. I’m going to hold out hope until they sign elsewhere…and then I’m going to thank them for their efforts with the Astros. I wasn’t thrilled with the pick of Springer or signing of Brantley at the time, but I was 100% wrong on both accounts. In retrospect there is no one I would have rather they drafted and Brantley played like an All Star and purported himself with class – can’t ask for anything more.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aw, no doubt, good points. I admire your brief comments, pardon my ramblings.

      Guess I’m assuming the worst, especially since it’s out of Astros control really. But having that all-too-healthy respect for the minor leaguers and prep kids, one just learns to appreciate what it means for the player, rather than my fandom… in the “any player’s production/influence can be replaced” category.

      An aside takes me to the musing that Josh Reddick may have played himself into a swan song somewhere. I’d give the guy a 2/6 somewhere not here, whereas before the season I’d have ‘left him for dead’.

      I really like our outfield prospects, and think we’d be just fine with a platon of a few. We could also push All-In on Marcell Ozuna at 3/60 million, or so. Or Starling Marte 25 million. Go cheap with 2/8 for Grossman. Here’s an interplay on MLBRumors on what to expect for Ozuna for what that’s worth:

      “4/60. COVID
      REPLY
      No way! 4/88 with a 24mm option(4mm buyout).”

      You’ve probably read into my comments that I do not place much of a threat on a virus with a 0.13%-0.26% global IFR (citing Levitt, Ioannidis, Bhakdi, Gupta, Friston, Ivor Cummins, Phil Kerpen, Matt Malkus, etc.), even conjectured in March when threat was highest we’d start back on Ju 15. I was pretty close as that was when we started intrasquad.

      Most concede the election results will play a big part in it, so tbh any player who thinks they might top out in a fully open season would want to test market; whereas any player in lag of career like Gurriel would want to take the multi-yrs and not risk it. For each player, like Smith, they have to weigh what they believe..

      Plus, I have a silly notion in mind’s eye that uncle Mike and Georgie are a package deal for Houston. I see them parting ways for a significantly better *situation. I’ll even throw in, they didn’t feel the brunt of fans’ ire this year, and elsewhere with fans in the seats next year, it won’t be as overwhelming. Turn the page, so to speak. They can see how well-liked Kemp Davis Marisnick are by putting on another jersey.

      Wives play a role, too. Some say, “it’s all you and Boras babe.” Whereas some have high rises, good wine & private school clauses.

      Like

  8. I think the Astros will do the “Rays” sort of thing.
    -I believe they will cut the cord with pitches who haven’t succeeded over the years in the Astros system and are coming off of injuries.
    – I believe they will not try to make an outfield out of their minor league guys, but will look to bring in guys who will not break the bank but offer some premium tools.
    -I believe they will look to acquire draft picks and money for international signings that they want to target because this will a premium year in those two markets.
    -I believe that the Astros will not back up in their goal of winning the 2021 WS.
    -I think they will try to get guys like Raley and Pruitt(if he’s healthy) to improve their stuff and be better in the Astros Way than they ever have been before.
    -I believe they will pull a surprise on us in acquiring a player that few saw coming.

    Like

  9. Yeah Stros, I thought Taubman would do that book, realizing that his career in MLB was over. And I still think that. His book might be more forthcoming than a Luhnow version. I don’t recall suggesting Taubman might want to sue someone though, but that’s no surprise as I forget a lot of dookie these days. If I wrote that, point me to it. Who would he sue?

    And I still think Taubman is a tool, with or without the volunteer work (which I think is a positive). As for the therapy, it can’t hurt, but there are plenty of other really smart young people that would love to be a part of MLB today, without any of the baggage Taubman would still bring to the table.

    Like

    • When I was writing ‘sue’, I realized it was one of us who thought he should. I wanted to see if he could prevail in a wrongful termination because I didn’t think it “followed” that he shouted toward anyone. I thought he had plausible deniability that he was truly sticking up for Osuna (in the two female reporter’s earshot). Many who were there from the media had a different view of it, though. What do I know?

      Yours may have been more interesting than I’d considered. There probably are some folks who want to know more about what became so close to the vest. Hopefully, the Astros learned from the Fiers debacle to get a non-disclosure on all terminated contracts however.

      One last thing is Luhnow made good at Kinsley, and Taubman on Wall Street. Why didn’t either of them fold back into business? Why are both playing along as good guys now, if not to get back into good graces of baseball again?

      Like

      • The way things are run now, though, dave. For example, when was the last time you heard Hunsicker’s name? And yet he’s been an advisor to the Dodgers for yrs now. There are very public GM’s and there are the nuts and bolts behind-the-scenes guys. Pete Putila, 10th season with HOU is the latter..

        Taubman and Luhnow will be employed in 2021 most likely.
        Wonder if Tyler White will?
        HaHa Enjoy the sand and surf, my friend!

        Liked by 1 person

      • GoStros1, Gerry never did anything wrong though, did he? They might bring Nephew back and trade him for pitching again. I’ll up the bet. 5 rum punches and 2 Killer Bees at the infamous Sunshines beach bar. You’ll be out cold. If Taubman and Luhnow are working in MLB in 2021, I’ll even throw in the airport transfers. Got to go. Am heading down there now for Friday beverages.

        Like

  10. So three Astros are Gold Glove finalists and it is an interesting trio….
    – Carlos Correa was tremendous
    – Yuli Gurriel did a good job despite forgetting how to hit
    – Kyle Tucker – a bit of a surprise, but he is there at LF which is normally the worst fielding of the three OFs.

    Like

    • RJ, that’s not even half of the pitchers there, either. These are all going to be major leaguers — mark them down.

      There are 15, or so who should also get innings next year.
      Whitley, Torres, Dubin, Conine, Rodriguez, Armenteros, Castellanos, Sanabria, Ivey, Solis, Solomon, Cionel, Bielak, Abreu (Sneed).

      Sleepers who will open some eyes:
      OU’s former closer, #24 Austin Hansen,
      2019 draft UT Starter, #25 Blair Henley.

      Then, in 2022
      Hunter Brown, Tyler Brown, Valente Bellozo, Jairo Lopez, JA Rivera, Ryan Gusto, Cody Deason (TJ this year), JP Lopez

      With Urquidy Paredes Javier Valdez Taylor Garcia (Scrubb Raley) — this is the makings of a fine unit for years to come!

      In the off season, I’d still like the Astros to target a middle rotation FA, like Mike Minor or Garrett Richards. On relief side; Doolittle Treinen or Shane Greene?

      I could handle us extending Greinke 2 yrs to retire here, and trading McCullers since he will leave following next season anyway..

      Liked by 1 person

      • Waiting for reports on Jacquez out since 2018.

        In that group, I’m watching Manny Ramirez, Jeremy Molero, Alfredi Jimenez Heitor Tokar, Franny Cobos, Angel Maquare, and Yeremi Caballos if he’s still with us.

        *Julio Robaina grades very well, as did Gusto and surprisingly lesser extent, Alex Palmer. Still like the very live arms of Collado Freure and DeJuneas.

        Expect two D1’s in CC; Mushinski and Brett Daniels.
        On the downhill are Donato Hartman LaRue Serrano Henderson;
        Billingsley and Adcock were let go. They weren’t “terrible” either.
        Still holding out hope for Garrett Gayle from Rice.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. This corroborates my thoughts on Luhnow’s intentions. Of course he wants to work in baseball again. Interesting he thinks he can do the same bulding and evaluating in other sports too? This exposes him, I think, to the facts that much of what he does is data-driven (Bayesian), and surrounding himself with scouts coaches etc. that do *their* part. The Architect who can’t be trifling with the personalities, and hence why he was out of touch with Taubman.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zanuda, I don’t know the context of all those Valentine comments. But they are very reminiscent of my original thoughts when the news first broke.

      However, to take exception with …. the other teams did know what was going on, because everyone had multiple signs. There was also chatter among the league (they reported in retrospect), suspecting the Astros Yankees Red Sox and others. Valentine asks, “‘c’mon the other team didn’t hear the banging, the ump didn’t hear it?” Yes, of course they heard it, because ChiSox Farqhar stopped the game, hearing the sound, and obviously the ump catcher and 3B can hear.

      Valentine asks, “you expect me to believe they can get the sign through in time?” Now, that is a legitimate question. But what is he suggesting? That the banging was a diversion by getting the sign a different way that Fiers didn’t mention? I’m not really sure what he’s getting at.

      A MLB darling, maybe he’s just here to add more confusion, more fuel to the fire that pads their media pockets, and to divert attention away from NY.

      Like

  12. How many of you saw the picture of Bauer in front of Minute Maid today?
    He’s trolling the Astros with the thought that he was here to meet with the GM for a potential contract. It made me so angry I was pi$$ed off all day.
    I can not think of ANYONE who would be more of a cancer in that clubhouse than Trevor Bauer.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Becky, don’t fret! Somebody was walking their puppy by Minute Maid Park and that was a picture of what was left behind. It’s probably on someone’s sneaker by now.

    Like

    • Our team drafts and develops men of character, simple as that. “Tyler” Bauer is in the same group as Fiers, and those who have harmed the Astros brand. The only association we have with him is Woolfork’s camp that Strommie has been a part of. Brent focuses more on his Alaska camp the last few years.

      I keep up with Kyle Boddy, who took over CIN pitching and he never mentions Bauer. Only the guys they are developing. I do admire Bauer’s relentless pursuit to get better, and his research/study he’s shared. I can see where, if you didn’t have to deal with his quirkiness, he’d be good for his knowledge.

      Since I started the post with ‘men of character’, let me pose a question. In reading Jim Stevenson’s interview, and in chatting with him online, he cannot say enough good things about the mental make-up of Jack Mayfield. He said that he’s the quietest leader of every team he’s played on. I think Jack is going to be 29 next yr. He can play every infield position except 1B, and he has a little pop. Like Straw Toro Jones Stubbs, even Diaz, they all need MLB reps to turn a corner. I wonder if there’s any room, or if 2021 is the end of the line for Super Jack Mayfield and his sweet wife and son? Like Chris Devenski and Brad Peacock, this upcoming year potentially could turn out very sad. We lose Osuna and JV basically too.

      Finally, I’ll never forget when Jake Marisnick struck out in Anaheim, after they’d already beaned him. After he pushed back his own players to quell a fight. As he was walking back to the dugout a large throng of boo’s and epithets hurled, he sat down on the bench and started crying (or head in hands). Anyone remember who went over and prayed with him? I’m going to miss Josh Reddick’s presence, and just wish he’d done better for us ultimately.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I believe we are in agreement on Osuna. He is a huge gamble and I don’t think the club will pay him another big amount and then have his injury keep him from pitching. I think they should non-tender him. He is basically in the same spot Aaron Sanchez was last year, only more expensive.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. My husband wanted to watch the series tonight…..and if you didn’t see it go to youtube.com and watch the last at bat for the Rays. Do you remember Brett “Maverick” Phillips? He was the last guy off the bench and got the winning hit to beat the Dodgers. I loved that kid and it broke my heart when Luhnow traded him to the Brewers for Carlos spit, spit, gomez😠
    That was a play for the ages, and now Maverick will get his name in the books for being the big hero tonight! I’m soo happy for him!!
    He was added to the Rays roster last week, probably as a pinch runner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So many ex-Astros riddled throughout the league.

      Did anyone catch the fact that Josh James’ ex-roommate, Ryan Thompson who told him he was snoring in Corpus Christi in 2017, with the help of a CPAP machine subsequently raised his velocity to 100 mph after getting good sleep again, was the very same Thompson who shut us down in the Rays bullpen in the ALCS?

      Ryan Thompson wasn’t even considered a prospect to the major leagues by our organization. That’s how adept the Rays are at plugging in average talent, and getting the most out of them when surrounded by elites. It’s more astonishing when you consider they have the best pitching farm in baseball — guys who are better, but laying in wait.

      Thompson is their teams’ submariner, and instead of paying a guy like Smith $4M to sit out the season for the same effect, they get him at league minimum. Smart smart baseball team, how they will continue to stay young and maintain team control. Pruitt for Battenfield was case in point.

      Like

      • I guess we will see how Ray-ish this team becomes under Click. We certainly have begun to see this with the young pitching getting a chance (thought much of it from necessity). It will be a fascinating time for our team.

        Like

  15. Yeah Becky, just looking at the highlights. Jansen gives up two hits and a walk, Phillips gets the big hit with two out and the Dodgers literally give the game to the Rays by making two errors on that walk off at bat. I won’t feel bad it the Rays win this series.

    Like

  16. Let’s see:
    -Do I want the AL team to win or the NL team to win?
    -Do I want Charlie Morton’s team to win or Joe Kelly’s team to win?
    -Do I want the richest team to win or the poorest team to win?
    -Do I want a California team to win or a Florida team?
    -Do I want the Rays to have the dreaded hangover in 2021 or the Dodgers?
    Duh!

    Liked by 1 person

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