A.J. Hinch Was Not Confident Enough As Manager To End Astros Sign Stealing

It was difficult for Hinch to hear players say they would have stopped if he told them to

Brandon Scott
February 07, 2020 - 8:57 pm

One of the most striking revelations from A.J. Hinch's interview on MLB Network was his admission that he did not have the confidence to aggressively end the Astros' sign stealing scheme, which ultimately cost Hinch his job. 

Beyond the expected apology from Hinch, who said it was important for him do this on camera, Hinch offered insight into how he learned of the news Jan. 13, when Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for a full season.

Astros owner Jim Crane announced both of their firings just a few hours later. 

Hinch spoke about being surprised by the length of his suspension, with this being an unprecedented scandal, and that he was not expecting to be fired.

After all, Hinch didn't endorse any of this. 

In fact, the commissioner's report noted Hinch twice took a bat to the live, in-game monitor used in the clubhouse to decode signs.

The Wall Street Journal also reported it was Luhnow who first learned of his staff' creating an Excel-based program with an algorithm to decode signs. They appropriately called it "Codebreaker."

Luhnow, according to the MLB report and Hinch himself, also never relayed the commissioner's memo Sept. 15, 2017 warning teams about misusing technology to steal signs.

Since Hinch was so clearly against his players doing this, why didn't he stop it once he realized what was happening?

Hinch said it's a question he's going to process over this year-long suspension and something he's been forced to consider in cooperating with the investigation.

“In hindsight, I should’ve had a meeting and addressed it face-forward and really ended it," Hinch said. "Leadership, to me, is often about what you preach. It’s like your pillars in what you believe in. Leadership’s also about what you tolerate. And I tolerated too much. That outlash of angst, I wanted people to know that I didn’t like it. I should’ve done more. I should’ve addressed it more directly. I mean it’s complicated when you’re talking about a team and all of the inner workings of a team. But in reality, I just feel like I could’ve done more looking back."

It was difficult for Hinch to hear players say in the investigation they would have stopped if he told them to. 

Hinch said he hopes that's true, but he did not believe that at the time.

Hinch, then 43 years old -- in just his third year managing the Astros, his fourth overall and without the World Series to back him up yet -- did not have the confidence to step to his players.

"If you look at my career, I’m much more confident today than I was in 2017," Hinch said when asked about players saying he could've stopped them. "Where I fell short is I didn’t believe that at the time. Otherwise, I probably would’ve handled it differently and I should’ve."

The Astros have since hired Dusty Baker to replace Hinch and James Click to replace Luhnow.

Pitchers and catchers report to Astros spring training in Florida on Feb. 13. The rest of the players are expected to be there by Feb. 17.

Hinch is going to manage again in the big leagues, possibly as soon as 2021, when his suspension is over. 

Hinch said he still wants to manage, and while his failures here are clear, he seems to be the least culpable. 

The players who used the stolen and decoded signs did not lose their jobs as Hinch did, or as the great Hank Aaron suggested

There are Astros front office staff members who were heavily involved in the scheme still employed by the team.

As Hinch said, he'll serve this suspension quietly. 

Then, next season someone's going to hire a manager who, with a bit more intentionality and confidence, would've never been available.

You can watch the entire interview here:

Also on SportsRadio 610

Aaron: Astros Who Cheated Should Be Suspended Permanently

Dusty Baker Wants To Blend Old School With Modern Analytics

Astros Name James Click New General Manager