Houston owner Jim Crane said Sunday he expects "significant" penalties against the Cardinals for the hack into the Astros computer database.

By Rob Rains

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Houston Astros’ owner Jim Crane expects the baseball commissioner to impose “significant” penalties against the Cardinals for the actions of a former employee who hacked into the Astros’ internal computer database.

Crane was in Springfield on Sunday to be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and said before the enshrinement banquet that the penalties could be levied as early as this week.

Major League owners are scheduled to begin meeting on Wednesday in West Palm Beach, Fla., and Crane said the announcement of penalties could be coming during those meetings.

Crane said he had no information on the nature of the penalties, but for the first time mentioned that it could include the awarding of a player from the Cardinals to the Astros as compensation for the breach of the Astros’ computers by former Cardinals’ scouting director Chris Correa, who at the time worked as the head of the Cardinals’ analytics department.

Commissioner Rob Manfred’s office has been investigating the incident, which also resulted in Correa pleading guilty to five counts of a federal charge of hacking into the Astros’ computers. Correa was sentenced to 46 months in a federal prison and began serving that sentence last August in a facility in Cumberland, Maryland.

“Based on the results of the investigation I think you will something significant there,” Crane told STLSportsPage.com in an exclusive interview. “I’m not aware of what he’s going to do but it’s either cash compensation or some kind of draft picks or something off their 40-man roster. Nobody really knows yet.”

Crane said he doesn’t know if the owners’ executive committee will be consulted and asked to approve the punishment against the Cardinals or if Manfred will act entirely on his own.

“I am sure he will do something appropriate,” Crane said of Manfred. “I don’t know if he will go to them first or if he will just do something on his own. That’s his call.”

Crane, who is a native of St. Louis and was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame for his contributions to the baseball program at Central Missouri State, where was a star pitcher, will just be happy to have the case resolved.

“It’s been a big distraction for a couple of years,” he said. “We had to spend a lot of internal time working on it to provide the information, my time, our lawyer’s time, our staff’s time. You can spend that time better and do something more productive.”

What could be the hardest part of Manfred’s decision, Crane admitted, is trying to evaluate exactly how much damage was done to the Astros because of the access to the privileged information, and what kind of benefit the Cardinals received from Correa obtaining that information.

“We put some things together to try to express what we thought happened,” Crane said. “It’s really hard to calculate. You can only assume some of the stuff. I think what’s clear is that he (Correa) was using our internal information that he shouldn’t have had access to. How beneficial that was to him, I don’t think anybody can measure from a monetary or a penalty kind of point. I think the commissioner will do something fair.”

More details about the depth of Correa’s hack into the Astros’ computers came to light on Sunday when the Houston Chronicle reported that the federal judge in the case had unsealed some of the documents put together by the U.S. Attorney’s office in its investigation of Correa.

Those documents recorded at least 48 alleged intrusions by Correa into the Astros’ emails or internal database.

The commissioner’s office had been trying to obtain more information about the government’s investigation as it tried to decide what penalties to impose against the Cardinals.

“We had a pretty good feel on what happened but we didn’t have all the details of the government investigation,” Crane said. “It’s unfortunate for everybody. Baseball will deal with it. I think you will hear something here shortly.”

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