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Punishing the Cardinals is tough: It makes the Astros better

Tuesday’s Say Hey, Baseball looks at the Cardinals’ hacking scandal, Dodgers with dogs, and Sean Rodriguez’s family.

MLB: General Managers Meetings Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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Many industry people feel that the Cardinals got off relatively light for the hacking scandal involving Astros' scouting data. Chris Correa is in prison for almost four years, and that's not a light punishment, but the Cardinals' organization itself just had to give up a couple of non-first-round draft picks and $2 million when a verdict finally came down from MLB. It's not nothing, but considering that even earlier draft picks have a pretty good chance of busting before they even hit the minors, it's also not a whole lot.

Don't read that as saying the Cardinals should have been hit even harder by Major League Baseball, however. The thing about this kind of compensatory punishment is that, while the Cardinals lose picks and a little bit of cash, the Astros gained it. And if the Cardinals lost even more picks -- say, a second-round pick next year or even a first on top of the ones they lost now -- then the Astros might be satisfied, but what about the rest of the league? They don't necessarily want the Astros being given a whole bunch of extra draft picks that they can then potentially use to strengthen their organization for years to come.

Is that fair, to take into account the feelings of, say, the Rangers, when sentencing the Cardinals? Probably not, given it wasn't their scouting information that was illicitly accessed. But it's the kind of thing Rob Manfred likely has to consider when figuring out punishment for something like this. Correa's sentencing and jail time is what's supposed to keep other teams from attempting something similar in the future. Punishing the Cardinals was just closing the book on something that's been in the news for far too long for MLB's tastes.