Indians, Pirates asking about Rockies’ Chris Iannetta

2 Comments

Cleveland and Pittsburgh are among a number of teams to have asked Colorado about catcher Chris Iannetta, according to FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi.

Iannetta’s name has come up in rumors numerous times over the last couple of years, largely because so many are convinced that the Rockies don’t value his contributions properly.  They’ve been guilty of sitting him behind seemingly inferior catchers in Yorvit Torrealba and Miguel Olivo, but they also gave him a three-year, $8.35 million deal prior to 2010 that showed a commitment to him.

Much of the old Iannetta speculation centered on the Red Sox, since not only is Iannetta a Rhode Island native, but his offensive contributions, which come mostly in the form of homers and walks, are supposed to be especially appreciated by the so-called Moneyball teams.

The Red Sox, though, are happy with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek at the moment and aren’t hunting for catching help.

The Pirates have a big need at catcher with both Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit on the shelf.  The Indians have Carlos Santana behind the plate, but they don’t mind using him at first base.  If they got Iannetta, they’d probably give him most of the starts behind the plate, with Santana playing first base and serving as a DH against left-handers.

Playing pretty regularly this year, Iannetta is hitting .224/.376/.412 with 10 homers and 36 RBI in 228 at-bats.   Brian McCann is the only regular catcher with a better on-base percentage and McCann, Ramon Hernandez, Alex Avila and Miguel Montero are the only starting catchers with superior OPSs.

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

Getty Images
1 Comment

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?

Getty Images
5 Comments

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.