Springer: The Astros, psychological safety, and MLB front office culture

From Stephanie Springer at The Hardball Times on February 4, 2020:

In the MLB Commissioner’s report on the sign-stealing scandal, Rob Manfred stated, “the culture of the baseball operations department, manifesting itself in the way its employees are treated, its relations with other Clubs, and its relations with the media and external stakeholders, has been very problematic.” Even before the report was issued, the culture within the Astros organization had been a matter of public debate and speculation: The trade for Roberto Osuna, Brandon Taubman’s outburst regarding said trade, and the sign-stealing scandal itself all raised questions about the health of the culture within the Astros front office.

But without the reporting of Stephanie Apstein, Taubman’s comments would have stayed behind closed doors; without Mike Fiers’ comments to journalists, the sign-stealing scheme may have been relegated to whispers. Although players were granted amnesty in the MLB investigation, no one else has stepped forward. With the investigation allegedly complete, Fiers remains the only person who took ownership of his comments and his role as whistleblower.

It’s clear Fiers was not the only player privy to the banging scheme. But of the 68 witnesses interviewed in the investigation, only 23 were current or former players, which suggests a significant number of Astros employees were interviewed. While immunity was conferred to baseball players through negotiations with MLBPA, it is not clear if other organizational employees were granted the same leeway in speaking openly without repercussions. Non-uniformed employees might also be at risk, as the March 2018 memorandum prohibiting the use of electronic equipment to steal signs specifically notes that clubs, and club employees, can be subject to disciplinary action.

Read the full article here: https://tht.fangraphs.com/the-astros-psychological-safety-and-mlb-front-office-culture/

Originally published: February 7, 2020. Last Updated: February 7, 2020.