Fan Confidence Poll: October 31st, 2011

2011 Record: 97-65 (855 RS, 657 RA, 102-60 pythag. record), won AL East, lost to Tigers in ALDS

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

{democracy:184}

The bigger, badder RAB

Today at 11:30 you’ll see something new on RAB. It’s a byline that you might find familiar, just not around these parts. In the next week or so you’ll notice a few more of these new bylines popping up. River Ave. Blues is expanding, and we’re excited to announce a pair of new writers, plus a new twist on a current one.

The first one you’ll see is Larry Koestler. Mike, Ben, and I have known Larry for a long, long time. You might have known him from Yankeeist and then The Yankee Analysts. We like his work all the way back in his Save Phil Hughes days — he even did a guest post for us a while ago. Now he’s part of the RAB team, and will bring his consistently well-researched articles to us on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays — and perhaps more if he has the itch. If you’re not doing so already, make sure to follow Larry on Twitter: @Larry_Koestler.

Next on the list is Larry’s partner in crime, TYA co-founder Moshe Mandel. We’ve followed Moshe from his days at the The Yankee U through TYA. In fact, he succeeded Ben and I on the now-defunct MVN Yankees blog, The Bronx Block. (In our day it was Off The Facade.) If you follow Moshe’s Twitter account — @MosheRAB — you might know that he’s a recent Harvard Law grad and is on his way to a fancy schmantz job in January. Because of that he’ll post a bit less frequently: Tuesdays and Sundays. He’s on vacation this week, though, so you’ll have to wait until next week for his debut.

With new contributors on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, we thought one final contributor for Thursdays made sense. Turns out the perfect candidate for the job was right under our noses. You might know Stephen Rhoads from his weekend posts. Now he’s sliding into Thursdays so we can more prominently feature his work. He actually got a head start this week, so his regular spot is already in place. You can find him on Twitter at @sprotster.

Please, folks, give a warm welcome to the new guys. Their voices will add variety to the RAB experience, expanding discussions and providing different angles on the subjects we cover every day.

Now that we have a more robust weekday staff, we decided to install some sense of order. With just Mike, Ben, and me previously on weekdays there wasn’t much need for a hierarchy. We all founded the site and we all took care of business. But with six contributors during the week we need a figurehead. It is with great pleasure that I introduce River Ave. Blues’s first Editor-In-Chief, Mike Axisa. He’s really grabbed the reigns of RAB in 2011, and now he’s the big boss.

While this announcement represents a significant change at RAB, we clearly believe that it will create a more enjoyable experience. Larry, Moshe, and Stephen all have distinct voices that will add variety to the site that we just couldn’t achieve with the three of us. It also takes a little of the load off Mike and me, though most notably Mike. That frees us up to take care of other RAB projects, which we also know you’ll enjoy. There are some exciting times ahead for all of us. We’re thankful that you’ve all come along for the ride.

Snowy Sunday Open Thread

Man, the first baseball-less Sunday since like, February. The snowstorm just makes it worse too, it’s like a cold slap in the face reminder that summer is over and baseball is four months away, and that’s just Spring Training. Anyway, the late football game is the Cowboys at the Eagles (8:20pm ET on NBC), and none of the local hockey teams are in action. You can talk about that or anything else your heart desires right here.

Discussion Topic: What do you miss most about the Old Yankee Stadium?

Sabathia plans to opt out of contract; Yankees have made offer

Via Jon Heyman and David Waldstein, CC Sabathia plans to opt out of the final four years and $92M of his contract before Monday’s midnight deadline. The Yankees have made their ace left-hander a new contract offer, but he plans on at least looking around to see what the market has to offer. We heard last week that the team was okay with a five- or six-year deal, but not anything more than that. All we do now is wait.

Mailbag: How about Mike Aviles?

Today’s weekend mailbag question pertains to a potential replacement for Eric Chavez if he doesn’t rejoin the Yankees in 2012. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in your questions throughout the week.

J-Bone asks: Mike Aviles is listed as a non-tender candidate on MLBTR. In the event that Eric Chavez retires or signs elsewhere, what do you think of Aviles as a replacement?

Good question, J-Bone. Let’s take a look.

As a point of comparison, in 2011, an effective (albeit fragile) Eric Chavez provided the Yankees with some solid bench depth. When he was able to keep himself on the field, he routinely flashed slick defensive ability. The veteran third basemen also produced decent production with the bat (especially early on in the season). Over 175 total plate appearances, he batted .263/.320/.356 (.294 wOBA). His efforts were valued at a 0.6 fWAR, all for the reasonable cost of $1.5M.

In 2011, Mike Aviles had a productive season as well as he spent time with both the Royals and the Red Sox. In 309 total plate appearances, Aviles’ provided a respectable .255/.289/.409 triple slash (.307 wOBA) with seven homeruns. Although Aviles did manage a handful of long balls last season, he’s definitely not known for showing consistent power (career .151 ISO). To Aviles’ credit though, he made decent contact (14 K%) although he rarely drew the walk (4.2 BB%).

Aviles has only been in the league since 2008 so he still has several more years of arbitration eligibility; his $0.64M earned last season would also be a mere drop in the bucket for the Yankees.

Personally, I’m fairly impartial on this one. Bench players generally have noticeable flaws in their game and Aviles is no different; he is what he is. He’ll occasionally get wood on the ball and he’ll provide serviceable defense at third. With too much exposure, he’ll likely be a detriment to the team overall. Is he better than a guy like Pena? Probably. Is he better than some of the other potential depth options on the market? Meh.

Basically, if the Yankees decide to roll the dice on Aviles, I’d be fine with it given his price and skill set. That said, if they passed him over for another option, I wouldn’t lose sleep either. In any event, I’m guessing the Yankees 2012 campaign probably won’t hinge on a backup infielder one way or another.

Noesi goes six strong in latest winter ball start

The Yankees re-signed Jose Gil after he became a six-year minor league free agent. He figures to do the majority of the catching at Double-A Trenton next season since no one of note is coming up from High-A Tampa.

AzFL Phoenix (7-5 loss to Peoria in 11 innings) Thursday’s game
Corban Joseph, 2B: 0 for 5, 2 K – ouch
Ronnie Mustelier, 3B: 3 for 5, 1 R – that’s five straight multi-hit games
Rob Segedin, LF: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K – second homer in his last three games
Dan Burawa, RHP: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 3-0 GB/FB – eight of 15 pitches were strikes (53.3%)

AzFL Phoenix (11-5 win over Surprise) Friday’s game
Rob Segedin, LF: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 2 K
Corban Joseph, 2B: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K, 1 CS – that’s more like it
Preston Claiborne, RHP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1-2 GB/FB – 11 of 13 pitches were strikes (84.6%)
Chase Whitley, RHP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0-1 GB/FB – 12 of his 13 pitches were strikes (92.3%)

No Yankees farmhands played in Saturday’s AzFL Phoenix game.

DWL Licey (4-1 win over Gigantes) Saturday’s game
Hector Noesi, RHP: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 8-1 GB/FB – now that’s much more like it … hopefully the rust is off and he can run off a few good starts and head into the offseason feeling good about how his season went

Dominican Winter League
Abe Almonte, OF: 7 G, 1 for 4, 1 R (.250/.250/.250)
Zoilo Almonte, OF: 3 G, 2 for 7, 3 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K (.286/.444/.286)
Melky Mesa, OF: 3 G, 0 for 0, 1 R, 1 SB – didn’t play at all last week

Mexican Pacific League
Walt Ibarra, IF: 4 G, 0 for 15, 1 R, 5 K – that’s rough, wow
Jorge Vazquez, 1B/3B: 16 G, 21 for 62, 11 R, 2 2B, 6 HR, 19 RBI, 8 BB, 16 K (.339/.414/.661)
Pat Venditte, SwP: 10 G, 0 GS, 10.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, 2 HR (1.74 ERA, 0.58 WHIP)

Venezuelan Winter League
Jose Gil, C/1B: 10 G, 8 for 33, 7 R, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K (.242/.324/.303)
Luis Nunez, IF: 14 G, 16 for 49, 10 R, 4 2B, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 6 BB, 8 K, 5 SB, 2 CS, 1 HBP (.327/.404/.531)
Jose Pirela, IF: 15 G, 23 for 60, 5 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 9 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 CS, 2 HBP (.383/.413/.433)
Josh Schmidt, RHP: 3 G, 3 GS, 16.2 IP, 11 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 18 K, 1 HR, 1 WP (1.08 ERA, 1.02 WHIP)

Rosters for the Puerto Rican League still have no been posted, but they will be soon. The season starts on November 4th.

Eight Yankees file for free agency as offseason begins

The 2011-2012 free agency period officially started at 12:01am ET this morning, and eight Yankees have filed for free agency: Luis Ayala, Eric Chavez, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Andruw Jones, Damaso Marte, Sergio Mitre, and Jorge Posada. Free agents can talk to other teams right now, but they can not receive any offers until 12:01am ET this coming Thursday. Adam Rubin has the full and official list of free agents as supplied by the players’ union.

The 40-man roster is now at 35, but Colin Curtis still needs to be activated off the 60-day DL.