This Week’s Fan Confidence Poll

So, we picked a good week to start this thing, huh? Since last week’s poll we learned that Alex Rodriguez had a cyst in his hip that would keep him out of the WBC, and that has since evolved into a hybrid surgery to repair a torn labrum that will keep A-Rod on the shelf for 6-9 weeks. Cody Ransom is the main fill-in for the time being, but there have already been some Mark Teahen rumblings.

On the bright side, CC Sabathia made his first spring appearance and pitched very well, as did AJ Burnett two days later. Phil Hughes continues to impress this spring, and Mo took the bullpen mound found for the first time since undergoing minor shoulder surgery in the offseason. Losing A-Rod hurts, but having a dynamite pitching staff for the first time in years helps ease the pain.

Anyway, please take a second to answer the poll question below and give us an idea of how confident you currently are in the team. Once we have enough data (about two months) I’ll create a permanent link on the site to a graph showing how the fanbase’s confidence has changed over time. Thanks in advance.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Introducing the Fan Confidence Poll

By nature, we Yankee fans are an arrogant bunch. It’s the New York in us, and we can’t help it. However, being arrogant and being confident are two different things, and I wanted to try to get an idea of how confident fans are in the general direction of their team.

Stealing an idea Taking a page from MetsBlog and Rays Index, I’m going to hold a weekly poll asking how confident you guys are in the team. I was originally thinking of conducting the poll once a month, but then we won’t be able to get a sense of how things like big wins, crippling losses, short term injuries, and the “honeymoon effect” of player acquisitions changes the perception of the team’s fan base. So from now on, every Monday morning you’ll find a poll like this, asking you to rate your confidence in the team.

Once we have a big enough sample (let’s call it two months), I’ll set up a permanent link somewhere on the site directing you to a graph showing how everyone’s confidence in the team has changed over time. But for now, please take a second to answer the poll question below. Thanks in advance.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Two sides to the A-Rod debate

Until this story moves forward either by a statement from A-Rod or further news developments, this should be our last post on the matter for a little while. But in the meantime…

Submitted for your approval are two opposite views on the A-Rod steroid scandal. On the one hand, Larry Mahnken at RLYW says that A-Rod is still a Hall of Famer. On the other, Peter Abraham calls this latest development a sure sign of the worst of times of baseball and doesn’t have many kind words for A-Rod.

As Monday morning dawns, where do you come out? Vote. Discuss.

Right now, would you vote for A-Rod on a Hall of Fame ballot?
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Torre, the Yanks and the Hall of Fame

While I’m still waiting on my copy of The Yankee Years, one thing is clear about this whole Joe Torre dust: His reputation is in tatters. He broke the age-old code of writing about the clubhouse, and he will pay a price for it.

Exhibit A: Wallace Matthews reports, in a column to which Joe linked last night, that Joe Torre will not be welcome at the new Yankee Stadium. Torre was conspicuously absent during the closing ceremonies for the new stadium, but this is probably the final straw.

The Yanks can be rather petty too. Number Six will not earn its place among the retired numbers, and Torre won’t get the recognition from the team he deserves following the success he enjoyed over his twelve years in the Bronx. I’m not sure which side gets to claim the high ground here.

Exhibit B: Cooperstown. This is where I leave the debate up to our RAB readers. A quick scan of the headlines reveals stories similar to this one by John Harper. By opening his mouth, Torre has damaged his standing among the sportswriters who once idolized him, and it jeopardizes his Hall of Fame standing.

So a poll:

In light of his new book, will Joe Torre be elected into the Hall of Fame?
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Open Thread: The Xavier Nady debate

As the Yanks head into Spring Training, they may or may not have a roster with too many outfielders for too few spaces. Johnny Damon is entrenched in left field and the lead-off spot while Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera will seemingly battle it out for center field. In right, Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady offer the Yanks a plethora of platoon options with Hideki Matsui as the DH.

The Yanks could look to trade an outfielder. Damon wouldn’t — and probably shouldn’t — be the one to go while no team would take on Hideki without a guarantee that his knees could hold up. So that leaves Swisher and Nady as the potential trade bait. Swisher had a seemingly poor 2008, but luck had a big role in suppressing his numbers. He also has a better track record than Nady.

But no one seems to generate more discussion than Nady as the Yanks shop their outfielders. In answering some mail this week, Steve Goldman opined about Nady:

What happened to the Yankees’ fondness of Xavier Nady? It seemed like when they got him, the organization really liked him. But now they’re thinking of trading him? Trading away a .305 AVG, 25 HR and 97 RBI from an offense that had trouble scoring runs last year? Does that even make sense? –Tucker

It makes a ton of sense, Tucker, because Nady isn’t really a .305 hitter. In his career, he’s been far closer to the hitter he cooled from his hot pinstriped start, a .268/.320/.474 hitter. As far as corner outfield production goes, it’s subpar. If Nick Swisher gets back on track this year, he’ll get on base much closer to 40 percent of the time and show comparable power. The value in Nady last season was that he was a huge in-season upgrade on Melky Cabrera, who he displaced from the lineup by allowing Johnny Damon to go back to center. That was a very nice move by Brian Cashman to staunch a bleeding wound, but Nady isn’t someone a championship team plans on starting.

Meanwhile, one of the various Steve’s who read RAB wrote in with this take on the X Man:

He’s one of the more misunderstood players on the Yanks, with many believing “he had a fluke year” and “he’s a NL player,” both of which are demonstrably false.

Check out the progression Nady has made over the past 5 years, especially vs righties. (The numbers are BA/OBP/SLG/OPS.)

vs R .178 .213 .311 .524
vs L .344 .417 .563 .979

vs R .223 .270 .431 .700
vs L .323 .400 .452 .852

vs R .263 .312 .424 .736
vs L .336 .418 .551 .969

vs R .274 .322 .479 .802
vs L .295 .356 .463 .819

vs R .317 .357 .529 .886
vs L .262 .361 .444 .805

He has steadily improved from being a platoon player who only hit lefties, to one who hit righties better than lefties last season. Even if that was a peak year for him, if he was to revert to his 2007 line he would still be a fine everyday player and a good replacement for Abreu, especially when you factor in his value as a (slightly better than league average) fielder, and Abreu being the worst RF in the AL by most measures.

Now to the AL/NL stuff:

1st Half .291 .344 .504 .848
2nd Half .255 .303 .425 .728

1st Half .321 .377 .525 .901
2nd Half .284 .333 .492 .825

The middling second half he had leads many Yankee fans to believe that he’s “not an AL player,” but he actually had a similarly weak (.80 drop off in OPS both years) 2nd half in 2007 in the NL, which could say something about his conditioning or training regimen, but not the league. It’s also worth noting that he only became a full time player in 2008 (607 PAs), he had about 500 PAs in 2007/2006 and 356 PAs in 2005. Again, he is progressing from a platoon player to an everyday player.

So what will it be? Should the Yankees trade Xavier Nady? I’d be inclined to keep him as a fourth outfielder, long his traditional role, and if Swisher falters, they have a Plan B. He provides a lot of pop off the bench, and the Yanks don’t need to trade him right now.

Let’s open the floor on this debate with an ever-popular poll, and feel free to use this post as tonight’s open thread.

Should the Yankees trade Xavier Nady?
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Yanks need a few bounceback years

Looking at the current projection of the Yanks 2009 starting lineup, things are looking a bit iffy. In order for the team to succeed, they’re going to need bounceback performances from a number of guys whose production dropped off in 2008. This means Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, Robinson Cano, and Nick Swisher. Because I’m sick of talking about free agents, we’ll do this poll-style, with the normal after-party to come in the comments. Who do you think has the best chance of bouncing back?

Who has the best chance of bouncing back in 2009?
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Poll: Which World Series team do you support?

Short and dirty: With the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies set to face off in the Fall Classic, baseball fans will enjoy a World Series with two relative newcomers. The Phillies, despite their lengthy history, have just one title and were last in the Series in 1993. For Tampa, 2008 marks their first winning season ever. Who gets your support?

For whom are you rooting in the World Series?
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Feel free to discuss any aspect of the Fall Classic in the comments. Wednesday’s Cole Hamels-Scott Kazmir match-up should be a good one, and apparently, Tampa and Philly have a non-baseball sports rivalry going on. Who knew?