Fan Confidence Poll: December 14th, 2015

2015 Season Record: 87-75 (764 RS, 698 RA, 88-74 pythag. record), lost wildcard game

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 Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

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

Weekend Open Thread

At long last, the week is over. The Winter Meetings were somehow both boring and hectic, and I’m ready to leave that whole scene behind. Anyway, here are some links for the weekend:

  • Baseball is flush with cash right now. Just look at the spending this offseason. Deals worth $100M+ are commonplace and $200M+ deals are happening more and more often. Jared Diamond writes that the days of ever-increasing contracts may soon come to a halt because these monster television contracts will become a thing of the past as more people unplug and rid themselves of cable. Baseball will have to find a way to make up the lost revenue.
  • Scott Miller’s piece on Yasiel Puig is a must read. Puig has become more than a distraction, he’s become something of a pariah in the clubhouse, so much so that some say his teammates want him gone. There are a bunch of damning anonymous quotes — going anonymous for something like this is kinda gutless, if you ask me — and anecdotes. It’s not just showing up late to the ballpark and stuff like that. Puig’s seen as a real bad dude.
  • Remember Floyd Youmans? I don’t, but he pitched with the Expos and Phillies in the late-1980s. He was part of the trade that sent Gary Carter to the Mets. Youmans, now 51, had some addiction issues and was pretty much out of baseball by 1989. As Pedro Moura writes, Youmans now drives for Uber and desperately misses the game. “I can’t make this feeling go away. But it’s OK for me to feel that way, because I love the game. I’m not gonna go off the deep end,” he said.

Friday: Here’s your open thread for the evening. The Rangers and Devils are playing and that’s pretty much it. There’s no college hoops on the schedule tonight. Talk about those games or anything else.

Saturday: This is the open thread again. The Army-Navy game is on right now, plus all of the local hockey and basketball teams will be in action except the Devils. There’s a while lotta college basketball on too. Enjoy.

Sunday: This is the open thread for the final time this weekend. You’ve got the afternoon slate of football plus the Patriots and Texans as the late NFL game. The Devils and Islanders are playing (each other) and there’s some college basketball on as well. Have at it.

Sliding in Starlin

(Mitchell Leff/Getty)
(Mitchell Leff/Getty)

When your team trades for a player in December, it’s like getting a present early; there’s a shiny new toy with “your” name on it and you can’t even open the damn thing–let only fully play with it–for months. So, in turn, you build up anticipation both positive and negative about what this new toy could or couldn’t be. Such is the case with this post and newly acquired infielder Starlin Castro and where he fits in the Yankee lineup (as presently constructed, barring any more moves).

For most of his career, Castro has hit in the number two spot in the lineup. During his time with the Cubs, he amassed 1117 plate appearances in that spot over 252 games. He’s also had about a full season’s worth of PA in the leadoff spot (529); the third spot (494); the cleanup spot (537); and the fifth spot (525). In the Bronx, Castro won’t be relied upon to hit in those important spots in the lineup. Rather, it’s likely he’ll be called upon to add some right handed balance to the overall lineup as well as some contact skill to the bottom of the Yankee order.

There are definitely reservations to have regarding Castro entering the Yankee lineup at all before we even get to where he’s going to hit in that lineup. Castro’s career high walk rate is only 6.2%, which he notched in 2014. He’s only been over 5% on his walk rate three times including 2014; the other two were in his rookie year of 2010 (5.7%) and 2012 (5.2%). His power has been up and down and either average or slightly below. New York’s success over the last 20 years has been predicated on patience and power, but not every player can be a take-and-rake guy, especially in today’s offensive climate and especially when that guy is a middle infielder. The Yankees have at least four guys who can fill at least one of the “take” or “rake” role–Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, and Brian McCann–and they don’t necessarily “need” the bottom of the order guys to do that. Granted, it’s a lot more helpful when the lower-in-the-order hitters can do those things, but that’s asking a lot in 2016. What Castro is good at, though, is making contact.

Castro has posted above-average contact rates for his entire career , including the down years he had in 2013 and 2015. After years of watching Jayson Nix and Stephen Drew rack up a good amount of strikeouts in the lower third of the order with not too much return (though Drew was probably a little better than we gave him credit for), it’ll be nice to have a player who can make contact to (hopefully) move more runners along and bring more runners home.

Lefties killed the Yankees in the second half last year after A-Rod slowed down and Mark Texieira got hurt, and that’s another area where Castro can help the club. For his career, he’s hit .295/.344/.415 against lefties with a .330 wOBA and a 106 wRC+. Depending on how manager Joe Girardi deploys Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Aaron Hicks–who can hit lefties well–Castro will have some opportunity to spend time at the top of the lineup. It’s easy to see him leading off or batting second against lefties when Ellsbury or Gardner gets a day off. His high-contact, decent-OBP success against lefties bodes well for leading off or batting second and is something the Yankees sorely lacked with Ellsbury struggling against lefites and Gardner fighting injury (along with the aforementioned Teixeira and Rodriguez situations).

With the Yankees, Castro will not need to shoulder the load or be the catalyst for offense. He’ll simply need to keep doing what he does well–making contact and handling lefties–and he’ll fit in just fine, regardless of where he ends up hitting. There was a time–even a recent time–when I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of acquiring Castro, but he certainly fills a need and the hole he fills is bigger than the one the pieces used to get him–Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan–are leaving. Even if it’ll be a while before we can see what he can do, I look forward to seeing what he can do.

Carlos Beltran hints at retirement following 2016 season

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

The 2016 season with be the third year of Carlos Beltran‘s three-year contract with the Yankees. The first two years have been a mixed bag. Some good, some bad, some injuries. To Beltran’s credit, he was the team’s best hitter from about mid-May through the end of the season in 2015.

Beltran will turn 39 shortly after Opening Day next year, and during a scheduled appearance in midtown earlier this week, he seemed to suggest he is considering retiring following the 2016 season. He indicated he’ll either play one more season after that or call it a career. From Zach Braziller:

“I don’t think there is any big decision I have to make — other than to play one more year or go home,” he said. “In my case, I am very happy with my career. … If I feel like I produce well to the point where I can make a good impact on a team, then I can play one more year. Or if I feel like I have [had] enough, I’ll go home.”

Beltran has had a brilliant career that, at the very least, will deserve serious Hall of Fame consideration when the time comes in a few years. He’s going to wind up retiring with 500+ doubles, 400+ homers, 300+ steals, and 70 WAR or so. Beltran is still looking for that elusive World Series ring, however.

As far as the Yankees are concerned, Beltran’s decision to retire or keep playing figures to have little impact on them. It’s hard to see the team bringing Beltran back in 2017 no matter what happens in 2016. The Yankees are focused on getting younger and right field is earmarked for top prospect Aaron Judge. Even if Judge flames out in Triple-A next year, others like Aaron Hicks, Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, and Ben Gamel could get the call.

Beltran, who also told Braziller he intends to stay on top of new addition Starlin Castro, will again play right field next season because Alex Rodriguez is locked in at DH. Should A-Rod get hurt or see his playing time reduced at any point, Beltran’s the obvious choice to slide into a full-time DH role.

Yankees re-sign Domingo German, Diego Moreno to minor league deals

Moreno. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)
Moreno. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)

The Yankees have re-signed right-handers Domingo German and Diego Moreno to minor league contracts. The team announced the German signing while Chad Jennings reported the Moreno deal. German was non-tendered last week and Moreno became a minor league free agent after being dropped from the 40-man roster in October.

German, 23, did not pitch at all this season after blowing out his elbow and having Tommy John surgery in Spring Training. He came over from the Marlins last winter in the Martin Prado/Nathan Eovaldi deal. By non-tendering German, the Yankees were able to remove him from the 40-man roster without exposing him to waivers. They did the non-tender/re-sign trick with Slade Heathcott and Vicente Campos last year.

I ranked German as the No. 11 prospect in the system coming into the season. The right-hander broke out with the Marlins in 2014, pitching to a 2.48 ERA (3.26 FIP) in 123.1 innings for Miami’s Low Class-A affiliate. He’s a sinker/slider guy and represented the Marlins in the 2014 Futures Game. My guess is he heads to High-A Tampa once he’s done rehabbing next year.

Moreno, 29, split last season between Triple-A Scranton and the Yankees. He had a 2.18 ERA (2.73 FIP) in 53.2 innings for the RailRiders and a 5.23 ERA (4.30 FIP) in 10.1 innings for the big league team. Moreno’s season ended in August due to surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow. He’s a Triple-A depth arm heading into 2016. Nothing more.

Friday Links: Safety Protocols, LED Lights, Flynn, Dock

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Winter Meetings are over and soon the dog days of the offseason will be upon us. After the holidays it’s just day after day after day of no baseball. Lame. Anyway, I’ve got some miscellaneous links to pass along as you count down the hours until the weekend.

MLB recommends new fan safety protocols

During the Winter Meetings this week, MLB officially recommended new safety protocols designed to protect fans from foul balls and broken bats. The press release is right here. In a nutshell, MLB recommends extending the netting behind home plate from dugout to dugout, and far enough to protect every seat within 70 feet of home plate.

These are recommendations, not mandates, though many teams have already confirmed they will comply. The Yankees have not but that doesn’t mean they won’t before the start of the season. Right now the netting at Yankee Stadium does not extend to the dugouts. There is one unprotected section adjacent to each dugout. I’m not sure how far the netting would have to extend to satisfy the 70-foot recommendation.

This past season there were several incidents where fans were hit by line drives and broken bats, including one scary incident in Fenway Park, in which a woman seated next to the dugout was hit in the head by the barrel of a broken bat. I’m all for making parks safer. The guys who get paid millions to play the game for a living can barely react to line drives in time. It’s only a matter of time until a fan gets killed if the nets aren’t extended. Not everyone is as lucky as this guy.

New lights at Yankee Stadium

According to Sonia Rincon, new LED lights have been installed at Yankee Stadium. They’re brighter and more energy efficient, stuff like that. I accidentally bought an LED light bulb for my bathroom over the summer and when I turned the damn thing on I thought I was standing on the sun. It was insanely bright. The field will be very well lit going forward. Things should be much easier to see.

Flynn, Dock leave the Yankees

Two behind the scenes employees have left the Yankees. Video coordinator Anthony Flynn has left the team for a job in the private sector, reports George King. He spent the last eight years as video coordinator and the seven before that in the baseball operations department. The New Jersey native is taking over as the director of baseball marketing and sales with XOS Digital, a video editing and technology company.

In other news, Ron Dock, who served as the team’s intervention coordinator for the last 17 years, has left the club. “It was my choice, time to move on. I went to Brian Cashman and thanked him and he gave me a hug. There are no regrets, I left on a high note,” said Dock to King. Dock was instrumental in helping Slade Heathcott get over his alcohol addiction a few years ago, among other things.

Dock, 65, was based in Tampa and responsible for helping players and employees dealing with addiction problems, depression, and family or legal issues. The Bronx native battled addiction after serving in the Vietnam War, and he later met Darryl Strawberry at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Strawberry introduced him to then farm system head Mark Newman, who asked Dock to help a minor leaguer with a drug problem. The team hired him shortly thereafter.