Brewers agree to deal catcher George Kottaras to Athletics

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UPDATE: According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Brewers are getting right-handed reliever Fautino De Los Santos.

SATURDAY, 4:02 PM ET: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the two clubs have reached an agreement on a deal. It’s not clear what the Brewers are getting in return, but it doesn’t figure to be much.

SATURDAY, 3:30 PM ET: According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, the Brewers are close to trading catcher George Kottaras to the Athletics.

Kottaras was designated for assignment earlier this week after Jonathan Lucroy was activated from the disabled list and Brewers decided to go with Martin Maldonado as their backup catcher. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin quickly came out and said that he was working on trading him to another team.

Kottaras is batting just .209 this season, but has a .409 on-base percentage, 29 walks and three homers over 116 plate appearances. In other words, he’s right up Billy Beane’s alley. The 29-year-old backstop owns a .221/.326/.402 batting line and a .728 OPS in the big leagues.

The Athletics have a lousy .198/.250/.269 batting line and a major-league worst .519 OPS from their catchers this season. Kurt Suzuki and rookie Derek Norris have shared playing time behind the plate recently.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle speculates that this could be a sign that Suzuki could be on the move. Slusser hears that the Rays, Dodgers and Angels are among the teams who are believed to have some interest. That may be a tough sell, as the 28-year-old is hitting just .213/.247/.273 with one home run and a .520 OPS this season. He is owed $6.45 million next season while his contract includes an $8.5 million club option for 2014 or a $650,000 buyout.

Alabama man arrested for stealing a Braves golf cart from SunTrust Park

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Last Tuesday night, the Braves hosted the San Francisco Giants at SunTrust Park. They lost 6-3. An Alabama man named Marcus Stephens almost came away a winner, however. At least if stealing a $4,500 golf cart that belongs to the Braves makes you a winner, which in some circles I suppose it would.

Stephens lost, however, when he crashed the cart into a metal pole, attempted to flee on foot and was apprehended by Cobb County Sheriff’s deputies. This all went down at 1:40AM Wednesday morning. The report doesn’t mention anything about alcohol being involved but I’ve read enough stories like this to make educated guesses about such things.

That being said, Stephens seems relatively composed in his mugshot:

I mean, yeah, the eyes look a bit red and puffy and the overall vibe he gives off is “I came to the game as part of the Sigma Nu reunion (Auburn University class of ’06, GO TIGERS!),” but I expected much worse after reading the headline.

 

Anyway, dude is out on bail. Somewhere, someone is really super proud of him, I’m sure.

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.