Former Cardinal Director of Player Development Chris Correa plea -

Former Cardinal Director of Player Development Chris Correa pleads guilty

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(AP) Fans make their way to Busch Stadium for Game 7 of baseball's World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers Friday, Oct. 28, 2011, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) (AP) Fans make their way to Busch Stadium for Game 7 of baseball's World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers Friday, Oct. 28, 2011, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

ST. LOUIS ( -- Chris Correa, the Cardinals' former director of player development, appeared in court Thursday in front of US District Judge Lynn Hughes, ultimately pleading guilty to five counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer. The charges are in connection with the alleged hacking of the Houston Astros from 2013-2014.

Sentencing is set for April 11, and each conviction carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail and a $250,000 fine. 

Correa had been with the organization since 2009, beginning his work under Jeff Luhnow, who was director of scouting at the time.

After Luhnow’s departure to Houston in 2011 (where he was hired as general manager), Correa rose rapidly through the front office before being made Director of Player Development in late 2014. While in Houston, Luhnow established a player information database, dubbed “Ground Control,” which was a similar system to what he had built in St. Louis.

Court documents allege Correa accessed the Astros' database by using a similar password to one that was used by Luhnow when he was with the Cardinals. Using that password, he gained access to Luhnow's email, which allowed him to access the database after additional security measures were installed. 

Over the period of 2013-2014, Correa reportedly accessed the Houston database and obtained information on player analysis, draft evaluation and high-level trade talks, as well as information on Cardinal prospects.  

The Cardinals became aware of a federal investigation in early spring of last year, and fired Correa in early July, just weeks after he oversaw his first draft as the organization’s scouting director.

After Correa’s dismissal from the organization, GM John Mozeliak and baseball operations assistant Jared Odom took over his day-to-day duties. At the end of August, the Cardinals hired former reliever Randy Flores to take over the position vacated by Correa.

Brief background

When Luhnow began to revamp the Cardinals’ talent acquisition strategy, he helped established Redbird Dog, a repository of the entirety of the club's baseball knowledge. It included detailed stats, health reports, projections and a proprietary system for evaluating player value.

The system was a radical shift from the existing traditional strategies of then-GM Walt Jocketty, who had held the position since 1994. DeWitt said Luhnow's new direction led to a “culture clash,” and the club eventually ousted Jocketty in 2007 citing a divisiveness in baseball strategy. Mozeliak took the reins in 2007, and presided over a wildly successful run both on the field in player acquisition. Luhnow became the Astros' general manager in 2011.

Once in Houston, Luhnow established Ground Control, a similar information repository for the Astros to use as they rebuilt their listing franchise. The alleged friction caused in Luhnow's early years, combined with the similarities between Ground Control and Redbird Dog led some to posit that breach was an act of retaliation toward Luhnow, aimed at hindering his process, though neither DeWitt nor Mozeliak gave any indication there was lasting friction between the organization and their former employee.

On June 30, 2014, Deadspin discovered internal documents from the Astros had been leaked on a repository called Anonbin. This sparked an investigation that, according to New York Times, concluded the breach could be traced to a home lived in by Cardinals employees, which turned investigators onto the front office.

Copyright 2016 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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