Yankees discontinuing print-at-home tickets starting this season

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees are discontinuing the print-at-home ticket option starting this season, reports Eric Fisher. To get into Yankee Stadium you now need either hard-stock tickets or a mobile bar code. The move is being made to “further combat fraud and counterfeiting of tickets.”

This is almost certainly going to take a huge bite out of the StubHub market and it’s clear the Yankees are trying to corner the secondary market via Yankees Ticket Exchange. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve made a last minute decision to go to a game, bought a ticket on StubHub, printed it out, then headed up to the Stadium. Can’t do that anymore.

The new ticket policy is right here. On the bright side, mobile ticketing is now available, which has been long overdue. You’re out of luck if you don’t have a smartphone though. Between the metal detectors — that’s an MLB thing, not a Yankees thing — and the inability to print tickets, I feel like it’s a bigger inconvenience to go to a game than ever before. Attendance is down already. I can’t imagine this will help fix that problem.

Anyway, individual tickets will go on sale online at 10am ET next Monday. The MasterCard pre-sale runs from tomorrow through Sunday. You can walk up to the Yankee Stadium ticket booth and begin buying tickets next Tuesday.

Tuesday Night Open Thread

Got something of a non-update on the YES/Comcast dispute: Bob Raissman says the two sides have not yet increased negotiations with Spring Training looming — Grapefruit League play begins two weeks from tomorrow — and it’s possible the threat of legal action will be introduced. Other cable provider/regional sports network disputes have been settled in a courtroom. That hasn’t happened yet with YES and Comcast. The two sides are apparently talking, but without increased urgency just yet. I sincerely hope this gets settled soon.

This is tonight’s open thread. The Devils are the only locals sports team in action, and there’s some college hoops on the schedule as well. The NBA is still in the middle of their All-Star break. You folks know what do with these open threads by now, so do it.

Spring Notes: Captain’s Camp, Tanaka, Pineda, Pettitte

Soon. (Presswire)
Soon. (Presswire)

We are now a day and a half away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Tampa for the start of Spring Training. Of course, a bunch of players are already working out at the minor league complex, so a bunch of spring notes have been trickling in the last few days. Here’s a quick roundup, via Bryan Hoch, Anthony McCarron, and Erik Boland.

2016 Captain’s Camp underway

The second annual Captain’s Camp is underway and the Yankees have been shuttling in former players, executives, and media folks to talk to their top young prospects. CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Alfonso Soriano, and Darryl Strawberry have all stopped by the Tampa complex to spend time with the kids. Derek Jeter took them all out to dinner last night.

“What’s encouraging to me is that we don’t pay anybody to come. We have a lot of really good people that are coming in to talk to our guys, just to voluntarily share what they’ve learned over the years,” said farm system head Gary Denbo, who came up with the idea for Captain’s Camp last year. Denbo confirmed more prospects were invited this year as the Yankees look to groom their next young core.

Interestingly, the Yankees selected two Captain’s Camp “leaders” this year: outfielder Aaron Judge and right-hander Brady Lail. “We picked a pitcher and we picked a position player that we thought could lead by example and through their actions. They’ve done a tremendous job,” said Denbo. I think the whole Captain’s Camp idea is pretty cool. Being a big leaguer is hard and it’s great the Yankees are doing whatever they can to help their prospects get to the next level.

All goes well as Tanaka throws off a mound

Over the weekend Masahiro Tanaka threw off a mound for the first time in Tampa — he threw off a mound at Yankee Stadium last week — and everything is going well with his surgically repaired elbow so far. “(Tanaka) didn’t try to push it too much, but it was good. He wasn’t midseason form, but he was where he should be,” said pitching coach Larry Rothschild of the 20-pitch throwing session. Tanaka played long toss yesterday as well.

Tanaka had surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow in October and depending who you ask, he is either right on schedule or the Yankees are handling him carefully. I suppose both can be true. Tanaka says he’s unsure if he’ll ready for Opening Day, Rothschild says he’s right on schedule, and Brian Cashman says they’ll take it easy with him in camp. Either way, so far, so good. “We’ll keep throwing. We’ll probably do a mound (session) within the next couple days, and then just keep progressing from there,” said Rothschild.

Pineda wants to throw 200 innings in 2016

Standard Spring Training story alert: [Pitcher] who has never thrown 200 innings in a season wants to throw 200 innings this year. In this case [Pitcher] is Michael Pineda. “I want to throw 200 innings this year. That’s my goal,” he said. “You always want to do better. Sometimes we have good games, sometimes we have bad games … Now it’s a new year and a new season is coming and I want to be ready and prepared to have a great year.”

Pineda built a gym in his home this offseason and he is “looking slimmed down,” according to Boland. Of course, the biggest issue with Big Mike is health. He was on track to throw roughly 200 innings last season before missing most of August with a forearm issue. Pineda seems like the biggest wildcard on the staff. His upside is so obvious and yet, as we saw last year, the results don’t always match the stuff. He’s frustrating and also way too talented to give up on.

Pettitte throws batting practice, may be back later in spring

While in town for Captain’s Camp, Pettitte threw batting practice to several of the team’s top prospects for about 30 minutes yesterday. “If I’m going to be here, y’all ought to use me. The wind was blowing out. Judge, I think, hit a couple on Dale Mabry (Boulevard),” he joked.

Pettitte may return to Spring Training in a few weeks — he was asked about coming back as a player and answered with a straight “No,” in case you’re wondering — depending on his schedule. “I’m going to try to, but I have to see the kids’ games, the way it works out” he said. “I love being down here, love being around these young guys. It’s extremely important to me, also, because of what the Yankees have been to me.”

Sanchez, Lindgren, Rumbelow among prospects who could most help the Yankees in 2016

Sanchez. (Presswire)
Sanchez. (Presswire)

The days of the Yankees signing free agents to plug their roster holes are over, at least temporarily. The team is focused on getting younger at the moment, and it’s not just talk. Last season they dipped into their farm system whenever a need arose, either short or long-term. It was pretty exciting. It’s been a while since the Yankees have been run this way.

The focus on youth will continue this season. The Yankees did not sign a single Major League free agent this offseason, which is weird as hell, and they have several prospects on the cusp of helping at the big league level. Prospects are suspects until proven otherwise, but the Yankees seem committed to giving these guys a chance. Using my Preseason Top 30 Prospects List as a guide, here’s a look at the prospects who could help at some point in 2016.

OF Aaron Judge (RAB Top 30 Rank: 1)
2016 ZiPS Projection: .226/.287/.464 (105 OPS+), 30 HR, +1.5 WAR
How Does He Fit? Developmentally, the Yankees are in a pretty good place with Judge. He is their top prospect, but he could use some more Triple-A time to adjust to advanced pitching, and the team has the outfield depth to give him that Triple-A time. Judge will be Rule 5 Draft eligible next offseason, so the Yankees could add him to the 40-man roster a few weeks early and give him a September call-up. Otherwise I get the sense the only way he helps the 2016 Yankees involves mashing in Triple-A for a few weeks and injuries to a few guys ahead of him on the outfield depth chart. The primary goal this summer is getting Judge ready to replace Carlos Beltran in 2017.

C Gary Sanchez (2)
2016 ZiPS Projection: .240/.291/.434 (99 OPS+), 20 HR, +1.9 WAR
How Does He Fit? Sanchez has a clear path to big league playing time as Brian McCann‘s backup. The Yankees could — and absolutely should, in my opinion — send him to Triple-A for the requisite five weeks to delay his free agency another year, and once that happens, the MLB backup job is all his. Sanchez took some pretty big steps forward last season. He’s not a finished product — no 23-year-old catcher is — but he is ready to help right now with his bat while continuing to work on his defense.

SS Jorge Mateo (3)
2016 ZiPS Projection: none
How Does He Fit? Realistically, there are only two ways Mateo helps the 2016 Yankees: 1) as trade bait, 2) as the designated pinch-runner in September. Mateo has only played 21 games above Low-A ball, so he is at least one and more likely two years away from an MLB job. He will be Rule 5 Draft eligible next winter though, meaning the Yankees could add him to the 40-man roster early and bring him up to run in September. They’ll have a hard time finding a better option given his speed and base-running aggressiveness. Aside from coming up to run once rosters expand, I would be stunned if Mateo saw big league time in 2016.

RHP James Kaprielian (4)
2016 ZiPS Projection: none
How Does He Fit? The Yankees invited last year’s first round pick to big league Spring Training this year and that’s pretty significant. It’s been a long time since they’ve invited a first rounder to camp the year after he was drafted. Not even Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain were invited to camp in 2007. Kaprielian comes billed as a quick moving college starter and he’s capable of following the 2007 Kennedy path this season, meaning some time in High-A, some time in Double-A, some time in Triple-A, then MLB debut. I doubt the Yankees would call Kaprielian up and rely on him a la Luis Severino last year, but he could come up to make some spot starts in September, for sure.

Refsnyder. (Presswire)
Refsnyder. (Presswire)

2B Rob Refsnyder (6)
2016 ZiPS Projection: .248/.318/.395 (98 OPS+), 13 HR, +1.9 WAR
How Does He Fit? At one point this offseason it looked like the Yankees were ready to hand the second base job over to Refsnyder, or at least have him platoon with Dustin Ackley, but now he’s stuck behind Starlin Castro on the depth chart. For now Refsnyder is infield depth the Yankees are going to stash in Triple-A. If Castro gets hurt, Refsnyder will come up to play second base. If Didi Gregorius or Chase Headley get hurt, Castro will slide over to the left side of the infield and Refsnyder will come up to play second. I know it seems like he is buried right now, but my guess is we’ll see more of Refsnyder in 2016 than you may expect. Something like 200-300 plate appearances wouldn’t surprise me. That’s just the way this stuff goes. It looks like a player is buried and before you know it he’s taking regular at-bats and the team is scrambling for help.

RHP Bryan Mitchell (7)
2016 ZiPS Projection: 5.48 ERA (5.15 FIP), -0.6 WAR
How Does He Fit? Mitchell is a starter by trade and the case can be made he is as high as seventh on the rotation depth chart. The Yankees do have three open bullpen spots — it’s more than likely four since Aroldis Chapman‘s suspension is looming — and they’ve shown they will take whoever they think is the best man for the job. I can’t help but think back to 2014, when they took Vidal Nuno north rather than leave him in Triple-A as rotation depth despite already having two long men in David Phelps and Adam Warren. Mitchell did look pretty darn good in short relief last summer before taking that line drive to the face. Either way, starter or reliever, we figure to see plenty of Mitchell this year. The Warren void is waiting to be filled.

LHP Jacob Lindgren (11)
2016 ZiPS Projection: 3.76 ERA (3.73 FIP), +0.3 WAR
How Does He Fit? Again, the Yankees have three if not four open bullpen spots, and Lindgren will get a chance to win a job in Spring Training. And even if he doesn’t land a spot on the Opening Day roster, he’ll be up at some point this season as part of the bullpen shuttle. Lindgren’s season ended in June last year due to surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow, but he’s reportedly 100% now, and is already in Tampa preparing for the season. I think Lindgren has by far the highest upside of the team’s bullpen prospects and can envision a scenario in which he establishes himself as Joe Girardi‘s No. 4 reliever by the end of the season.

OF Mason Williams (14), OF Ben Gamel (20) & OF Slade Heathcott (28)
2016 ZiPS Projection, Williams: .230/.283/.320 (68 OPS+), 4 HR, +0.1 WAR
2016 ZiPS Projection, Gamel: .243/.292/.377 (85 OPS+), 10 HR, +0.9 WAR
2016 ZiPS Projection, Heathcott: .231/.274/.350 (73 OPS+), 5 HR, +0.4 WAR
How Do They Fit? It make sense to lump these three together since they’re all Triple-A bound left-handed hitters who can play all three outfield spots. Williams is the best defender of the three, Gamel is the best hitter of the three, and Heathcott is probably the best two-way player of the three. His injury history though … yeesh. The Yankees have three starting outfielders at the MLB level plus a quality fourth outfielder in Aaron Hicks plus a fifth outfield option in Ackley. It’ll probably take two injuries for one these youngsters to see meaningful MLB playing time this year. They’re available as depth though, and if they aren’t traded themselves, they make it easier for the Yankees to part with Brett Gardner at some point.

RHP Brady Lail (22)
2016 ZiPS Projection: 5.52 ERA (5.12 FIP), -0.7 WAR
How Does He Fit? Like Mitchell, the case can be made Lail is as high as seventh on the rotation depth chart. Unlike Mitchell, Lail hasn’t had a whole lot of Triple-A experience or success to this point. He got hammered in his seven starts with the RailRiders last year — 4.62 ERA (5.32 FIP) with more walks (17) than strikeouts (13) in 37 Triple-A innings — and the Yankees probably want to see Lail have some success at that level before calling him up. Add in the fact he is not yet on the 40-man roster and we might not see Lail until late in the season. The fact he is in Triple-A makes him a bullpen shuttle candidate though. That much is clear.

RHP Chance Adams (24)
2016 ZiPS Projection: none
How Does He Fit? This is probably a stretch because the Yankees are going to give Adams a chance to start this year, which makes sense. He has two quality pitches (fastball, slider) and an improving third pitch (changeup), plus the team has all that upper level bullpen depth, so now’s the time to let Adams try to hack it in the rotation. Should the Yankees abandon the starter plan at some point, Adams could shoot up the ladder in short order and become part of the bullpen shuttle. I will admit that is unlikely, however. Out of everyone in this post, I’d say Adams has the lowest odds of seeing MLB time in 2016. Even lower than Mateo.

Cessa. (Toledo Blade)
Cessa. (Toledo Blade)

RHP Luis Cessa (26)
2016 ZiPS Projection: 5.41 ERA (4.80 FIP), -0.4 WAR
How Does He Fit? Once again, we have a guy who could be as high as seventh on the rotation depth chart. Cessa came over in the Justin Wilson trade — the Mets traded him to the Tigers for Yoenis Cespedes last year — and like Lail, he got knocked around a bit in Triple-A (6.97 ERA and 3.57 FIP in 62 innings), but the underlying performance was pretty good (20.1 K%, 6.6 BB%, 52.1 GB%), and that’s what matters. Cessa is yet another bullpen shuttle candidate, but I think he has the best chance of making multiple starts for the Yankees in 2016 of anyone in this post, including Mitchell. Not sure why. Call it a hunch.

RHP Nick Rumbelow (27)
2016 ZiPS Projection: 4.39 ERA (3.99 FIP), -0.1 WAR
How Does He Fit? We saw Rumbelow on the shuttle last season and I’m sure we’ll see him on the shuttle again this season, even if he makes the Opening Day roster. He does have quality stuff and a history of missing bats, so I think Rumbelow has a good chance to carve out a full-time role for himself this summer. The Yankees just need to give him an opportunity. There were too many times last season where a young pitcher was sent down simply because he had just worked and wouldn’t be available for a day or two. The team has to give a few of these guys an extended audition in 2016, starting with Lindgren and Rumbelow.

* * *

Among those who did not make my Preseason Top 30 Prospects List, we could see RHP Nick Goody (ZiPS: +0.4 WAR), LHP James Pazos (+0.0 WAR), RHP Johnny Barbato (-0.2 WAR), RHP Branden Pinder (-0.4 WAR), RHP Vicente Campos (-1.1 WAR), RHP Chad Green (none), and LHP Tyler Webb (none) at the MLB level this summer. All seven of those guys are in the same position: they’re relievers who figure to ride the bullpen shuttle. Well, Green is a starter, so I suppose he could make a spot start at some point. Either way, expect to see many more young players come up to help the Yankees this season, even if their big league stint is only temporary.

Aaron Judge tops Keith Law’s top ten Yankees prospects list

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Last week Keith Law published his annual top 100 prospects list, which included four Yankees: OF Aaron Judge (No. 36), SS Jorge Mateo (No. 55), C Gary Sanchez (No. 57), and RHP James Kaprielian (No. 87). Earlier today Law took an in-depth look at New York’s farm system (subs. req’d), examining their top ten prospects and beyond.

“The Yankees’ system is trending back upward, despite some trades and disappointing performances from upper-level prospects, thanks to a couple productive drafts that have helped restock the lower levels,” wrote Law. Here is his top ten:

  1. Judge
  2. Mateo
  3. Sanchez
  4. Kaprielian
  5. LHP Ian Clarkin
  6. OF Dustin Fowler
  7. SS Wilkerman Garcia
  8. RHP Drew Finley
  9. SS Kyle Holder
  10. SS Tyler Wade

Law has long been a Clarkin fan and he’s higher on both Finley and Holder than most. Finley is a “super-polished high-school arm with a plus curveball and outstanding command and feel for pitching” while the divisive Holder is “a plus-plus defender at short with mixed reviews on the bat, though he doesn’t have to hit that much to be a big leaguer, thanks to his defense.” Law also notes there “could be more growth here than with a normal college product,” referring to Holder, who split time between baseball and basketball for most of his life.

Within the write-up, Law dives deeper into the system and looks beyond the top ten. He ranks RHP Brady Lail as the 11th best prospect in the system, and Lail is followed by OF Ben Gamel (12th), LHP Jacob Lindgren (13th), RHP Luis Cessa (14th), C Luis Torrens (15th), OF Mason Williams (16th), RHP Trey Amburgey (17th), 2B Rob Refsnyder (18th), 3B Miguel Andujar (19th), and RHP Chance Adams (20th). 3B Dermis Garcia, RHP Domingo Acevedo, IF Abi Avelino, RHP Ty Hensley, RHP Austin DeCarr, OF Bryan Emery, SS Diego Castillo, C Miguel Flames, 3B Nelson Gomez, C Jason Lopez, and RHP Johnny Barbato all get mentions as well, though they’re unranked.

Law listed Lindgren and Barbato as the prospects most likely to have an impact in 2016, which is sorta cheating because they’re both bat-missing upper level relievers, but I’ll allow it. Fowler and Torrens are his sleepers. “Fowler has top-100-prospect tools and has performed rather well to date, despite aggressive promotions. He and Torrens are the best bets to make the leap in 2016,” he wrote. Torrens is coming off major shoulder surgery, so his road to top 100 prospectdom is a bit rockier than Fowler’s.

Based on the write-up, it’s pretty clear Law is high on the Yankees’ farm system, particularly their lower level guys like Wilkerman, Amburgey, and all the 2014-15 international signees. He ranked the Yankees as having the 13th best farm system in the game and that’s with Luis Severino and Greg Bird having graduated to MLB. That’s is pretty darn cool.

Starlin Castro’s Next New Position [2016 Spring Training Preview]

(Joe Robbins/Getty)
(Joe Robbins/Getty)

The Yankees are not shy about moving players to new positions and letting them learn on the fly. Two years ago they acquired shortstop Stephen Drew at the trade deadline and immediately moved him to second base, a position he’d never played before. They also acquired Martin Prado at the deadline that year and shifted him to right field, where he had two innings worth of MLB experience.

At the trade deadline last year, the Yankees attempted to acquire then Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro with the intention of moving him to second base. “We have been on Castro for a while, not just this winter. We tried to get him at the deadline,” said Brian Cashman after trading for Castro in December. A deal didn’t happen in July, then a few weeks later the Cubs moved Starlin to second base themselves. “We felt in our evaluations that he could be a pretty interesting player at second. When the Cubs made the switch we got confirmation of that,” added Cashman.

The Yankees intend to use Castro primarily at second base this coming season, and surely he’ll see some time at short when Didi Gregorius needs a day to rest, but that’s not all. The team is also hoping to use Starlin at third base, a position he has not played since rookie ball almost a decade ago. That was only a handful of games too. Unlike Prado and Drew in 2014, Castro has the benefit of Spring Training. The Yankees can have him work at the hot corner in meaningless games this spring, and they intend to do just that.

“It’s too early to tell (if he can handle third), so we’ll take the time in Spring Training,” said Cashman last week. “If (he) can swing over and play some third for us and spell Chase (Headley), that’s a huge benefit for roster flexibility, but if he can’t, we’re not going to force it … If it’s something he’s not comfortable with we’re certainly not going to force that either. But we’ll certainly find out when we get to know him a little better and see how he looks.”

It goes without saying you never really know how a player will handle a new position until he actually plays it, but there are some reasons to think Castro will be able to hold his own at the hot corner. Remember, the Yankees aren’t basing the decision to try Castro at third on blind faith. Their scouting reports suggest he has the athleticism and defensive tools for third base. Here are three quick reasons why it might work.

He’ll Be On The Left Side Of The Infield

First and foremost, Starlin is familiar with the left side of the infield, which is a pretty big deal. Moving from short to second is much tougher than it seems because you’re on the other side of the infield. In an interview with the YES Network (video link) a few weeks ago Castro said everything felt “backwards” when he first moved to second. All the angles are different on the other side of the second base bag. At third base, Castro will at least be on the familiar side of the infield. That’s a plus and could help ease the transition.

He Has Plenty of Arm Strength & Range

Arm strength is very important at third base and Starlin has a plenty enough arm for the position. Arm strength was always one of his best tools back during his prospect days, and as recently as last season he was doing stuff like this:

So yeah, Castro was making on-line throws from his knees from the shortstop hole as recently as last July, so his arm is still crazy strong. If you can make that throw, you can make the vast majority of the throws from third base.

The various defensive stats have hated Starlin’s work at shortstop over the years — he was worth -30 DRS and -13.6 UZR from 2010-15 at short — but looking at the individual defensive components, Castro had good range and was adept at turning the double play. He was simply error prone.

Starlin Castro defense

There’s no specific reason 2013 is highlighted. I just happened to have my cursor on that line when I made the screen grab and I didn’t feel like making another one. My bad.

Anyway, let’s look at the components of UZR. Castro’s double play runs (DPR) has hovered right around average throughout his career while his range runs (RngR) has typically been well north of average. Error runs (ErrR) has been quick a bit below average, however. That’s the problem. Castro’s been average or better at turning the double play and ranging to make plays. The errors, that third component of UZR, have been his undoing.

Watch enough baseball and you’ll know errors can happen in many different ways. They even happen on good plays. How many times have you seen an infielder range far to get a ground ball only to bobble the transfer or have it clank off his glove, then get charged with an error? More times than I care to count. Fielders get charged with an error despite getting to a batted ball most other players couldn’t dream of getting to every single day in MLB.

Thanks to the magic of Baseball Reference, here is a breakdown of Castro’s errors at shortstop over the years:

Errors
Year Age Total Catching Fielding Throwing
2010 20 27 0 16 11
2011 21 29 2 11 16
2012 22 27 2 17 8
2013 23 22 2 12 8
2014 24 15 0 8 7
2015 25 18 0 12 6
6 Seasons 138 6 76 56

The majority of Castro’s errors have been regular ol’ fielding errors, and that is especially true since 2012. He’s missed six catches in six seasons — that’s catches on pop-ups — and Starlin has made single digit throwing errors in each of the last four seasons. That’s normal. Even all-world shortstop Andrelton Simmons has averaged six throwing errors in his three full MLB seasons.

Most of Castro’s errors are fielding errors, which are booted ground balls and things of that nature. Everyone boots a ground ball now and then, that’s baseball, but also rangy guys like Castro tend to get dinged with errors when they’re unable to complete a difficult play. Official scoring is weird like that. That isn’t to say Castro’s defense is great. We’re just adding context. His arm is good, his range is good, and he turns the double play adequately, but he’s error prone. A strong arm and good range — range indicates good reflexes and first step quickness — projects well for his future at third base.

He Adjusted To Second Quickly

I can not stress this enough: Major League Baseball is very hard. Television is great, I love the slow-mo replays and various camera angles, but you really need to be at the ballpark to fully appreciate just how quickly the game moves. It’s incredible. All this fancy StatCast stuff tells us the average batted ball travels approximately 88 mph. That’s really fast!

Last year the Cubs shifted Castro to second base in the middle of the season and he had to learn the position on the fly. The game was moving as stupid fast as always and he had to figure it out as he went. Ridiculous. And you know what? He did it! Starlin’s first few games at second were shaky but that’s to be expected. By time October rolled around, he looked pretty comfortable at second.

Castro was able to make the adjustment to second base pretty quickly. Remember when the Yankees moved Kelly Johnson to third base a few years ago? He never picked it up. He was a career second baseman who looked totally lost on the other side of the infield. Castro moved to the other side of the bag and settled in within a matter of weeks. That speaks to his baseball aptitude and instincts. He picked up second quickly and that bodes well for the move to third.

(Jon Durr/Getty)
(Jon Durr/Getty)

“One of the exciting upsides to the Castro acquisition would be that he played shortstop. He was athletic enough to play shortstop,” said Cashman during a recent YES Network interview (video link). “That’s the left side of the infield. He’s got the arm, he’s got the athleticism, that a transition to third should be in the cards. It doesn’t guarantee it, but we saw him play second and play second so well down the stretch there with the Cubs … We will definitely take a look at him at third.”

Here is the maybe most important aspect of Castro’s transition to third: he doesn’t have to be great. He only needs to be adequate. Even below-average is acceptable since he’s only going to play the position what, once a week? Once every ten days? That’s the plan. Chase Headley is the starting third baseman. Castro just needs to give him a rest once in a while. If Headley gets hurt … well that’s a bridge the Yankees will cross when the time comes. They only need Starlin to hold his own at third. That’s all. Anything else is a bonus.

Castro’s ability to play third base will have major impact on roster construction. The Yankees don’t have another obvious backup third baseman — Gregorius has ten career innings at third base and Dustin Ackley doesn’t have the arm for the left side of the infield — so if Starlin can’t play third, the team will have to carry someone like Pete Kozma or Donovan Solano to back up Headley. That’s not ideal. Castro being able to play third creates a lot of roster flexibility, and his acclimation to the position this spring will be a not insignificant storyline.

Monday Night Open Thread

Pretty interesting anecdote from John Harper over the weekend: Brian Cashman recently spent two days with the San Antonio Spurs, observing the way they run their organization. “I’m always looking to learn about the way other organizations do things. The Spurs were on my bucket list because they’ve been so successful,” said Cashman, who has also visited the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Red Bulls, and even the New Zealand national rugby team over the years. The sports are different, but some of the concepts are the same (analytics, performance science, medicals, etc.), so it’s a learning experience. Neat stuff.

Anywho, here is tonight’s open thread. None of the hockey locals are playing this evening and the NBA is still in their All-Star break, so you’ve got college basketball and nothing else tonight. Talk about those games, Cashman visiting the Spurs, being only a few days away from pitchers and catchers reporting, or anything else right here.