Cashman: Yanks will not increase current offer to Cliff Lee

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It’s hard to put a real finger on why, but things seem to be trending toward the Rangers today on the Cliff Lee rumor front.

Maybe that’s natural.  Since the Winter Meetings began, and even before that, the Yankees have seemed like the favorite to land the ace left-hander.  Perhaps these optimistic Rangers bits are working as a kind of media-driven balancing act.  Like a run of hey, they’re nice too stories.

Or maybe it’s all for real and the Rangers are going to win this thing.  Listen to this:

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told George King III of the New York Post Sunday that he will not improve the club’s current seven-year proposal to Lee, thought to be worth close to $161 million.  They’re done adding years and money.

As far as we know, the Rangers have only been willing to offer a six-year contract and will probably not move north of that unless it’s in the form of a seventh year club option.  That means Texas is offering less total guaranteed money, no matter what the average annual salaries look like.

But, as we touched on earlier today, there are reasons a guy like Lee might turn down the extra millions to remain in the Dallas area.

His Arkansas home is not far from Arlington, he has a strong relationship with pitching coach Mike Maddux, and it’s not like the Rangers are offering chump change.  He can still retire on a big ranch in Montana, buy a penthouse in Miami, custom order an 80-foot yacht, or whatever else filthy rich athletes do.

Maybe Lee will take Texas’ six-year deal, confident in his ability to make that seventh year happen.

Report: The Yankee Stadium charity is a secretive, self-dealing boondoggle

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The New York Times has a blistering report on the New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund. The Fund is the charity Yankees created in 2006 as a means of making up for the negative impact the construction New Yankee Stadium had on the surrounding community, primarily via its taking over 25 acres of parkland.

The idea of the Fund was a good one: to distribute $40 million in cash grants and sports equipment, and 600,000 free baseball tickets to community organizations in the Bronx over four decades. And it has been distributing funds and tickets. As the Times reports, however, the manner in which it has done so raises some red flags. Such as:

  • Charitable donations have, in an amazing coincidence, often gone to other charities which share common board members with the New Yankee Stadium Fund;
  • Funds have gone to many wealthy groups in affluent parts of the Bronx far away from the Stadium while the area around the stadium remains one of the most impoverished in the nation. For example, a private school in a wealthy part of the borough and a rec center in a gated community have gotten a lot money that, one would think anyway, could be and should be devoted to organizations closer to the ballpark that are in greater need; and
  • There has been almost no transparency or oversight of the Fund. Reports which were supposed to have been submitted have not been. And no one, apart from the Times anyway, seems to care. The Yankees certainly don’t seem to. Indeed, as the article notes, the team has worked hard to keep the Fund’s operations out of its hands. They just got their new ballpark and write the checks and hand out the tickets. Everything else is someone else’s problem.

Cronyism in private philanthropy is not uncommon. As is a lack of oversight. Often it’s the best connected people who receive the benefit of such funds, not the people most in need. This is especially true in charities whose creation was not born of a philanthropic impulse as much as it was born of a need to put a good face on some not-so-good business dealings.

If the Times’ report is correct — and the lack of anyone coming forward to dispute it on the record despite the Times’ requests that they do — it appears as if the New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund is one of those sorts of charities.

Who is the fastest sprinter in baseball?

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We’re not talking the 100 meters here. We’re talking practical baseball sprinting. That’s defined by the StatCast folks at MLB as “feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window,” while sprinting for the purposes of, you know, winning a baseball game.

StatCast ranked all players who have at least 10 “max effort” runs this year. I won’t give away who is at the top of this list, but given that baseball’s speedsters tend to get a lot of press you will not be at all surprised. As for the bottom of the list, well, the Angels don’t pay Albert Pujols to run even when he’s not suffering from late career chronic foot problems, so they’ll probably let that one go. I will say, however, that I am amused that the third slowest dude in baseball is named “Jett,” however.

Lately people have noticed some odd things about home run distances on StatCast, suggesting that maybe their metrics are wacko. And, of course, their means of gauging this stuff is proprietary and opaque, so we have no way of knowing if their numbers are off the reservation or not. As such, take all of the StatCast stuff you see with a grain of salt.

That said, even if the feet-per-second stuff is wrong here, knowing that Smith is faster than Jones by a factor of X is still interesting.