HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Houston Astros owner Jim Crane has fired manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow In the wake of Major League Baseball’s investigation into electronic sign-stealing.
“I have higher standards for this city and the franchise and I am going above and beyond Major League Baseball’s penalty,” Crane said before announcing he’d dismissed the pair. “We need to move forward with a clean slate and the Astros will become a stronger organization because of this today… This will not happen again on my watch.”
Crane said he found out about MLB’s decision over the weekend and decided Monday to make the changes.
“I felt with what came out in the report they both had responsibilities,” said Crane during a news conference Monday afternoon. “Neither one of them started this, but neither one of them did anything about it.”
“None of this is fun. I’m not happy that it happened, but we’re dealing with hit,” said Crane.
Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the discipline and strongly hinted that current Boston manager Alex Cora — the Astros bench coach in 2017 — will face punishment later.
Manfred said Cora developed the sign-stealing system used by the Astros.
“We’re addressing the problem. We apologize to our fans and our sponsors. We’re cleaning house and we’re going to move forward,” he said.
Houston also loses its next two first- and second-round draft picks.
Manfred said Hinch was aware of the system but did not bring it to the attention of Luhnow.
The GM told Major League Baseball he was unaware of the system but Manfred held him accountable for the team’s actions.
Manfred also said owner Jim Crane was not aware.
“When I found out I was very upset. We want to be known for playing by the rules. We broke the rules. We accept the punishment. And we’re going to move forward.”
Luhnow released the following statement Monday afternoon:
“I accept responsibility for rules violations that occurred on my watch as President of Baseball Operations and General Manager of the Astros. I apologize to the Astros organization, Astros fans and the Houston community for the shame and embarrassment this has caused. I am deeply grateful to Jim Crane for the opportunity to lead baseball operations.
I am not a cheater. Anybody who has worked closely with me during my 32-year career inside and outside baseball can attest to my integrity. I did not know rules were being broken. As the Commissioner set out in his statement, I did not personally direct, oversee or engage in any misconduct: The sign-stealing initiative was not planned or directed by baseball management; the trash-can banging was driven and executed by players, and the video decoding of signs originated and was executed by lower-level employees working with the bench coach. I am deeply upset that I wasn’t informed of any misconduct because I would have stopped it.
I agree with Mr. Crane that our baseball operations team has achieved far more positives beyond this significant negative. Many very good people have worked, and continue to work, for the Astros organization. I am extremely proud of the many executives throughout the industry who were trained and promoted in our department.”
Former manager A.J. Hinch released the following statement Monday evening:
“I appreciate Commissioner Manfred’s unwavering commitment to upholding the best interests of baseball. I regret being connected to these events, am disappointed in our club’s actions within this timeline, and I accept the Commissioner’s decision.
As a leader and Major League Manager, it is my responsibility to lead players and staff with integrity that represents the game in the best possible way. While the evidence consistently showed I didn’t endorse or participate in the sign stealing practices, I failed to stop them and I am deeply sorry.
I apologize to Mr. Crane for all negative reflections this may have had on him and the Astros organization. To the fans, thank you for your continued support through this challenging time – and for this team. I apologize to all of you for our mistakes but I’m confident we will learn from it – and I personally commit to work tirelessly to ensure I do.
My time in Houston has provided some of the greatest moments in my career and those memories will always be near and dear to me and my family. I regret that my time with the Astros has ended, but will always be a supporter of the club, players, and staff I’ve had the privilege of working alongside. I wish them the best in the future of the game I love.”
WATCH JIM CRANE’S NEWS CONFERENCE HERE:
— Houston Astros (@astros) January 13, 2020
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)