Oh noes! All the criminals are wearing Yankees caps!

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From today’s New York Times:

Since 2000, more than 100 people who have been suspects or persons of
interest in connection with serious crimes in New York City wore Yankees
apparel at the time of the crimes or at the time of their arrest or
arraignment. The tally is based on a review of New York Police
Department news releases, surveillance video and images of robberies and
other crimes, as well as police sketches and newspaper articles that
described suspects’ clothing. No other sports team comes close.

“Yankees are number1 ! Yankees are number 1! Wooo!  Suck it Red Sux!”

Oh, wait, that wasn’t the point of the story. The point of the story was that this is a “curious phenomenon.” And a troubling one too!  If not, the Times wouldn’t have consulted “criminologists, sports marketing analysts, and consumer psychologists.” Could this be . . . .a disturbing trend?

Must be, because one of the “experts” in the article blames Jay Z, who — you may or may not realize — occasionally wears a Yankees cap. Even gives the trend a name: “The Jay Z Effect.” I think anyone who lived through the awful “big ass clocks around the neck” crime spree from 1989 and the and The Great Hammer Pants Heist from 1992* knows how serious this is.

Or, you know, maybe this is just a b.s. trend piece that, at the most, unwittingly identifies a correlation between criminals being on the young side and youth culture wearing a lot of sports gear these days, with the Yankees just so happening to be the most popular team in the city.

OK, that’s being cynical. This is the Paper of Record, so there must be something to this.  But maybe it’s not about the Yankees. Maybe the real disturbing trend here is the increasing unpopularity of skiing, based on the clear fact that there are far fewer ski mask-wearing crooks today then their used to be.

And you know, if they’re going to go with skiing, if they tried hard, they could even throw in a global warming angle too . . .

*Props to Jay Destro for the Hammer Pants line. He’s dope on the floor and magic on the mic.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.