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Someone hacked the Astros’ “Ground Control” database and got their internal trade discussions

Jun 30, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

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Hacking anyone or any company’s private communications is underhanded and most likely illegal. People do it all the time, of course, but that doesn’t change it. What also doesn’t change: third parties’ interest in the hacked information, regardless of the legality of the hack. Especially when the hackee is famous or notable.

The Houston Astros are famous and notable and now Deadspin is reporting that their highly-publicized internal communication and evaluation system called “Ground Control” got hacked. Among the stolen data which has been posted online are internal discussions about a possible trade for Giancarlo Stanton last year, the leadup to the Bud Norris trade and discussions between the Astros and Yankees back during spring training in which the Yankees offered Ichiro Suzuki to Houston, largely for cash.

The data comes in the form of notes, not unlike you’d see in a customer service database in which representatives make a note each time you call in. Like this, reflecting conversations about Bud Norris in the runup to last year’s trade deadline:

“7/29/2013″,” SF said they wouldn’t include Mejia on top of Blackburn.”
“7/29/2013″,” SF said they still had interest in Norris. JL said they would have to include both Blackburn and Mejia to be competitive.”
“7/29/2013″,” AA texted JL and asked what a package around Stroman might look like. JL said Stoman + Gose would be in consideration.”
“7/29/2013″,” BC texted JL and said they couldn’t include Boegarts, Cecchini, Webster, or Bradley but thought they had enough depth to still make an appealing package. JL wrote back and asked if they would consider a package around Barnes and Owens.”

On the one hand: let’s smile at the Astros asking for a package including Xander Boegarts for Bud freakin’ Norris. On the other hand: let us not pretend that we have much of a clue how most trade discussions go. You don’t get the sky if you don’t ask for the stars, right?

And no matter what you think of all of this, I think it’s OK to think that (a) whoever hacked into the Astros’ database is probably gonna get in big trouble; and (b) the Astros probably need to talk to someone about data security.

  1. kycardsfan - Jun 30, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    I thought it was really neat reading all of the trade discussions that took place. I would love to read one every year after the trade deadline and Winter Meetings.

    • sfp311 - Jun 30, 2014 at 4:03 PM

      It is neat, I definitely agree on that. But also scary. Even while taking these discussions with a grain of salt, reading that AA was actually considering trading Stroman+ for freakin’ Bud Norris kind of scares me. Regardless of how Stroman has panned out so far, even considering trading a top prospect for a no. 4 starter is pretty silly IMO. But then again, that’s why these discussions don’t pan out most of the time.

      • proudlycanadian - Jun 30, 2014 at 4:35 PM

        We only saw one side of the discussions. We did not see the laughter on the other side of the discussions.

  2. stex52 - Jun 30, 2014 at 3:07 PM

    You would think with their extremely high organizational geek factor they would have taken care of that.

    No doubt somewhere out in space Major Tom is smiling.

    • sabatimus - Jun 30, 2014 at 3:16 PM

      I knew it wouldn’t be long before that reference was made :)

      • stex52 - Jun 30, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        Well, not exactly rocket science. Nyuk Nyuk

    • crackersnap - Jun 30, 2014 at 3:25 PM

      I am. I am smiling. I have had a 30 year career in IT, and am affiliated with the dominant computer security service on the planet. And one common theme I run into all the time is the hubris that comes with a lack of awareness.

      And if there is one takeaway from Edward Snowden, it’s that folks who grab your crown jewels and post them on sites such as Anonbin are not the ones you need to be worrying about, because those are the ones whose braggadocio ends up revealing to you what you have lost, and gives you the outline as to how to deal with it.

      Nope. It’s the ones who have been taking whatever they want and NOT letting you know they took it, so that they can turn around and use it to their advantage without your knowledge.

      Somebody in Houston just learned that internal intellectual property is not as cool as building Instagram.

  3. stex52 - Jun 30, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    Correa and Springer for Stanton? That would’ve been a blockbuster. My gut feel (it will be a while before we know) is that is too much. Stanton> Springer, but Correa looks like the real deal at SS/3B for a long time.

    In the end, though, there is no possibility the Astros do that without some kind of certainty that Stanton would sign on as a FA. That is just too much development walking out the door otherwise.

  4. sdelmonte - Jun 30, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    Maybe someone was trying to hack into the other ground control in Houston, and NASA cunningly rerouted them to the ballpark?

  5. penguins87and71 - Jun 30, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    Surprised Pirates would have been willing to give up a combination of Glassnow, Kingham, Hanson, and Heradia for Bud Norris.

  6. happytwinsfan - Jun 30, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    The unpaid intern gets paid?

  7. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jun 30, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    I love that they asked for Bundy for Norris. I would have laughed them out of the room.

    Additionally I bet their username was admin and the password was password. Haxored!

    • DJ MC - Jun 30, 2014 at 8:47 PM

      Unbelievable! That’s the same password as my luggage!

  8. drewsylvania - Jun 30, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    I got made fun of when I said this would happen back when Ground Control’s existence was published. I’ll go get paper and carbons for your written apology…

  9. jkaflagg - Jun 30, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    Anyone else have the feeling that the SI cover story, which sort of gave the Houston front office a little of that “smartest guy in the room” vibe, was the spark that moved somebody to suddenly post this material ? There’s a lot of resentment in general for the Astros among baseball people, from agents who were irked that they refused to pay top dollar for journeyman players to executives who were angry they actually blew up the whole thing and totally rebuilt with young players rather than chase 70-75 wins with short term fixes….

    • stex52 - Jun 30, 2014 at 3:54 PM

      Besides, the SI cover always puts a jinx on you.

  10. buffalo65 - Jun 30, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    Asked for a guy who’s never pitched in the bigs and has a bad elbow? I’d laugh too.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jun 30, 2014 at 6:54 PM

      You mean a young starting pitcher who’s rated in the top 5 prospects in MLB? Yea you’re right he’s a bum.

    • DJ MC - Jun 30, 2014 at 8:48 PM

      And to whom are you referring?

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jun 30, 2014 at 8:58 PM

        He failed at replying to my commend about Bundy.

      • DJ MC - Jun 30, 2014 at 8:59 PM

        I figured. Of course, Bundy has played in the majors, so his comment is factually wrong in addition to whatever subjective measure of absence of intelligence we wish to give it.

  11. jlovenotjlo - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:08 PM

    I recall a post from a couple years back about Houston having an unpaid IT “intern” job posting that actually required years of experience and education.. Looks like thy got what they paid for.

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