Sean Burroughs returns to majors with Diamondbacks

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Completing a comeback already far more successful than anyone would have anticipated, Sean Burroughs was called up by the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, putting him back in the majors for the first time in five years.

Burroughs, the former Little League World Series hero turned top prospect in the Padres system, showed next to nothing with the bat in a brief look with the Diamondbacks this spring, but he hit .386/.434/.571 in 27 games for Triple-A Reno after taking the field in mid-April.  He was batting .426 with eight extra-base hits in 14 games this month.

Burroughs, a first-round pick in 1998, reached the majors in 2002 at age 21 and was a very solid regular in his first full season with San Diego, hitting .286/.352/.402 in 518 at-bats in 2003. 

Unfortunately, that proved to be his high point.  While he hit .298 in 2004, he had only 27 extra-base hits and 31 walks in 523 at-bats, leaving him with a subpar .713 OPS.  He battled injuries throughout that year and in 2005, when he hit just .250/.318/.299 and spent a month in the minors.   The Padres gave up on him after the season, trading him to the Rays for another famous bust, Dewon Brazelton.

Burroughs went on to play in just eight games for Tampa Bay in 2006, going 4-for-21.  He signed a minor league deal with the Mariners the next winter, hurt his shoulder prior to the start of spring training, got released in June and then fell completely off the map for 3 1/2 years.

Now he’s back, though it remains to be seen if it will last.  Burroughs was never a great defender at third, and he’s pretty much a singles hitter at the plate.  Since he’s not a legitimate utilityman, he could have a difficult time sticking.  Still, he’s always been able to put the bat on the ball.  It wouldn’t be the most shocking thing if he ends up having a second career as a pinch-hitter.

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 the 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 suggests it is — 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.