Odds and Ends

1) credit it where it’s due – Colin Cowherd had very strong comments this morning about the handling of the Jameis Winston case, specifically its wrap-up yesterday by Florida’s State Attorney Willie Meggs, prefaced by the statement that what Cowherd is about to say “may be jarring and uncomfortable, but it needs to be said:”

Over the weekend in this country, hundreds, maybe thousands of women will be raped or sexually assaulted. Happens to one in five, 87% of rapists – zero days in jail. It happens every two minutes in the United States, a rape or sexual assault. Your sister or mine. Your daughter or mine. Your friend or mine. So when accusations are made about those violent acts – and it’s not sex, meatheads – it’s a debasing act of human violence, overwhelmingly against women. It is up to state attorneys, police and lawyers to have a professional and human obligation to set a tone, not to be glib at press conferences or deliver witty zingers. Or appease or placate the local football fans. Shame on Willie Meggs. Shame on the press conference. Can you imagine how the alleged victim felt about that? Or countless thousands of women in the country? Your sister or mine. Your daughter or mine. Your friend or mine. One out of five women, violently assaulted. Willie Meggs, Tallahassee police, glib Florida attorney – do better.

Good for him.

USA Today’s Christine Brennan also weighs in on the matter.

2) As Yankee blog River Ave Blues pointed out today, Robinson Cano is probably the first ever homegrown Yankee star to have left the team via free agency because the Bombers actually got outbid. I strongly suspect that the Yankees miscalculated on this one. It’s not they would have paid Cano $240 million over ten years. But I don’t think they anticipated another team would offer that much money for that long.

There is a tendency – obviously not including the Mariners – to undervalue how good Cano is. The consensus on Dan Patrick’s show this morning seemed to be that he is a “good” or “very good” player. Cowherd has, in the past, said that Cano doesn’t put fans in the seats and he reiterated that point this morning. I tend to agree, at least in the direct sense. I don’t think people buy tickets to games based on whether Cano is on the field, the way they might for a Kershaw, for example (though I seem to recall an old Bill James study suggesting that individual players in baseball, in general, rarely drove ticket sales. Maybe some do for discreet periods of time – like Mark “the Bird” Fidrych in 1976, or Fernando Valenzuela during the extraordinary first two months of his career in 1981).

But what does put fans in seats is winning baseball teams. Yankee ticket revenues alone were down $60 million in their 85-win no postseason 2013 compared to their division-winning 2012. Ratings were down, too. If Cano is the difference between making a run at the postseason or not, he’s very much a player who will put fans in the seats. And Cano is a difference maker for a competitive team (that may *not* include the Mariners, by the way). Over the past four seasons, depending on which version you use, Robinson Cano either leads the major leagues or is second in wins above replacement. He’s a gold glove second baseman who mashes like an elite first baseman. That’s an exceedingly rare combination. He’s 31 and is not especially reliant on his legs – the first thing to go in athletes. Hitting the ball consistently hard – Cano’s primary skill – erodes more slowly than other attributes. In other words, barring injury, Cano will hold his value well for a few more years, though his range in the field will certainly decline. His raw numbers will look less good in Seattle, ten year contracts seem like a generally bad idea – as the Pujols and Arod contracts attest – and the Mariners are still far away from a division winning team. But Cano is a strangely undervalued player among the baseball commentariat. And I’ll miss him. He is a hell of a player.

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