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.

Guest Post: A Positive (But Plausible!) Career Path for Didi Gregorius

The following is a guest post from Carlo Macomber, who goes by CoryWadeDavis in the comments. Carlo is a freshman at Colby College in Waterville, ME. He’s previous written a guest post about Masahiro Tanaka.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Baseball executives, analysts, and fans alike have always attempted to make comparisons between young, up-and-coming players and current or former MLB players. In recent years, as more and more information has become available on amateur players, these comps have started earlier than ever. If you watch the MLB First-Year Player Draft on MLB Network, you’ll hear the analysts comparing college and even high school players to established MLB regulars. Almost all of the time, this is completely unfair. Many of the early draft picks get completely unrealistic comps to perennial All-Star or even Hall of Fame caliber players. As a result, I usually end up feeling really bad for the mid first round pick that for some reason only draws a Larry Bigbie or Tony Graffanino comp (or someone along those lines).

Some comps are just plain lazy. Carlos Martinez has been compared to Pedro Martinez because they’re both small RHPs from the Dominican Republic with the last name Martinez. Similarly, #1 Yankees prospect Aaron Judge has drawn lazy comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton. These are based completely on size and position. Stanton had hit 117 MLB home runs through his age 23 season, while Judge is about to open his age 24 season in AAA. There is really no comparison here, especially not one fair to Judge.

Anyway, all of this leads me to the main point here: a fair and plausible comp for Didi Gregorius. After his early season struggles in 2015, Gregorius put together a solid 3.1 fWAR season. While the vast majority of Yankees fans were more than content with Didi’s first season in the Bronx, we all hope to get even more production out of him in the future, especially offensively.

As a result, Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford is a player with a career path that Gregorius could (and should) look to follow. Before this year, Crawford was known as a solid defensive shortstop with a below average overall bat but a slightly above average one for the position. This is similar to how Gregorius is viewed now. In 2015, Crawford broke out offensively. He hit .256/.321/.462/.783 (117 wRC+) with 21 home runs. All of those numbers are by far career bests. Crawford’s breakout offensive campaign coupled with what has become excellent defense led to him producing a 4.7 fWAR season.

The comparison of Crawford and Gregorius is not directly related to Crawford’s 2015 season, however. It starts by comparing Didi’s 2015 season (age 25) and Crawford’s 2013 season (age 26). Here is some key offensive data:

Crawford 2013 550 .248 .311 .363 9 .296 93 2.3
Gregorius 2015 578 .265 .318 .370 9 .303 89 3.1

Looks pretty similar, doesn’t it? Gregorius was ever so slightly better in 2015 by wOBA but 2013 Crawford looked better by wRC+. Gregorius had a better batting average — both players had similar and close to league average BABIPs in the respective seasons, by the way – and Crawford showed slightly better power potential (.114 ISO to .105). Overall, though, the offensive numbers are very similar.

The difference in WAR, as you could assume, is actually a result of defense. In 2013, Crawford posted +2 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and had a +4.2 Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games played (UZR/150). He had yet to emerge as a truly excellent defender. On the other hand, 2015 Gregorius posted +5 DRS and +7.9 UZR/150. Gregorius proved last year that he is capable of putting together a 3 WAR season mostly because of his defense. If he wants to take the next step like Crawford and become a 4.5-5 win player, he should look to make similar offensive improvements, while always trying to incrementally improve his defense.

So, what noticeable offensive differences are there between 2013 and 2015 Brandon Crawford? There are some important changes in batted ball data:

Year Pull% Cent% Oppo% Soft% Med% Hard% HR/FB
2013 35.9% 38.8% 25.3% 17.9% 57% 25.1% 7.0%
2015 39.8% 37.5% 22.7% 15.6% 51.5% 32.9% 16.2%

It’s easy to look at the table above and notice that Crawford’s hard contact percentage jumped almost 8% during the two-year period, and that this obviously led to his breakout offensive season. However, it also appears that Crawford tried to pull the ball more last season than in the past. Pulling the ball has gotten a bad reputation in recent years because of defensive shifts, but just about all players hit the ball harder to their pull side. Crawford took advantage of this fact by pulling the ball nearly 4% more often last year and hitting to the opposite field 2.6% less often. Because Crawford was able to pull the ball with authority more often, his HR/FB spiked up in 2015. His 21 home runs last season were more than double his previous career high (10).

While Crawford provides an example of one way a previously below-average hitter can break out offensively, his offensive trends don’t mean that Didi should try to copy him completely. Gregorius doesn’t strike me as someone who will hit 20 home runs in a season. Maybe he develops into a 15 homers per season guy, but I don’t see him as having quite the same power potential as Crawford. Hopefully now that I said that he proves me wrong. Anyway, Didi’s 2015 batted ball data does show that he could work on improving his ability to pull the ball with authority.

Year PA GB% FB% Pull% Cent% Oppo% Soft% Med% Hard%
2014 299 37.4% 42.9% 32.9% 42.8% 24.3% 17.6% 54.5% 27.9%
2015 578 44.7% 34.1% 38.5% 35.0% 26.5% 21.6% 55.9% 22.5 %

The first thing to note here is Gregorius only had about half a season’s worth of PA in 2014 with the Diamondbacks. 299 PA isn’t nothing, though. The numbers show that Didi did start to pull the ball considerably more often last year. Crawford noticed significant offensive gains when he pulled the ball more often, and that hasn’t really happened yet for Didi. However, when Gregorius started to pull the ball more often, he actually made hard contact 5.4% less often, and soft contact 4% more often. The problem here appears to be his spike in GB% and drop in FB%. Didi moved to Yankee Stadium last year, and, as a left-handed hitter, he naturally started to pull the ball more to take advantage of the famous short porch in right field. Unfortunately, Gregorius hit considerably more grounders and considerably fewer fly balls, which completely ruins the point of pulling the ball at Yankee Stadium.

This strikes me as a pitch selection issue. Didi has the right idea of trying to pull the ball more often (like Crawford), but he has to try to pull the right pitches. Trying to pull outside pitches will cause weak ground balls to first and second base, something Didi did too often last year (and that’s backed up by the data!). In order to follow Crawford’s career path “model,” Gregorius should look to follow a teammate’s lead. Brett Gardner has improved his ability to pull the ball with authority (and subsequently raise his power numbers) by jumping on middle and inside fastballs. While it is always important to be patient, Didi should try and get the bat head out to the ball quickly on any middle-in fastballs. In order to do this, Didi will have to improve his overall pitch recognition, which, as a 26-year-old entering just his second full season, he still has time to do. If Gregorius can improve his pitch recognition and pull the ball with authority more often, the Yankees could have an elite two-way shortstop entering his prime years. The Giants are in a similar situation with Crawford, and there’s reason to believe Sir Didi could follow suit!

Rules, CBA News: Take-Out Slides, Qualifying Offer, Draft Lottery, Luxury Tax, Sept. Call-Ups

Clark. (Patrick McDermott/Getty)
Clark. (Patrick McDermott/Getty)

At some point very soon MLB and the MLBPA will get together to begin crafting the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, assuming they haven’t done so already. The current CBA expires December 1st and the two sides have an awful lot to work through these next few weeks. Here are some MLB big picture updates from Buster Olney and Ronald Blum.

Take-out slide rule change coming

In the wake of the broken legs suffered by Jung-Ho Kang and Ruben Tejada last year, MLB and the MLBPA are moving closer to changing the take-out slide rules. An agreement has not been reached just yet but the two sides “will get there,” and the new rule is expected to be in place for the start of the 2016 season.

The new rule will be designed to prevent runners from going beyond the base path to break up the double play. They want the runner to slide directly into second base, basically. Both Chase Utley and Chris Coghlan were able to touch second base when they slid into Tejada and Kang, respectively, but they were outside the base path. The new rule would eliminate stuff like this:

Chris Coghlan Jung-Ho Kang

The MLBPA has reportedly indicated they want to make the game safer for middle infielders without completely eliminating the runner’s ability to slide in aggressively to break up the double play. Players have been taught to play the game one way their entire lives and they don’t want to change too much.

Players are so big and so fast these days that catastrophic injuries like the ones suffered by Kang and Tejada will become more and more common in the coming years. I’m all in favor of making the game safer, so if the upcoming rule change can reduce the risk of injury without totally eliminating take-out slides, great. Seems like everyone will be happy.

Qualifying offer to be “reviewed” during CBA talks

Pitchers and catchers begin reporting to Spring Training this week and three qualified free agents still remain unsigned: Yovani Gallardo, Ian Desmond, and Dexter Fowler. (Gallardo is said to be nearing a deal with the Orioles.) Howie Kendrick, another qualified free agent, recently signed a contract that appeared to be well-below market value. Needless to say, this is a concern for the MLBPA.

“I think it’s disappointing when there are as many talented players still without a home,” said union chief Tony Clark. “I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest to be in a world where very talented players are at home for whatever reason they are there. It will likely be a part of the conversation in bargaining. If there are considerations in areas that appear to be damaging the concept of competitive balance, then they should be reviewed and looked at, and this would appear to be one of them.”

I few weeks back I wrote a post at CBS looking at possible ways to improve the qualifying offer system. I don’t think there is a perfect fix as long as the draft and free agency are tied together, but after a few years of the current system, it’s obvious it’s not working as intending. The elite free agents are in good shape. The mid-range guys like Gallardo and Fowler and Desmond and Kendrick are having their markets severely limited, and that’s bad for the MLBPA.

MLBPA thinks it would be “beneficial” to explore a draft lottery

Tanking has become a pretty hot topic in recent weeks, and while you could argue tanking is just a scary word for rebuilding, there are folks within the game concerned about the increasing number of teams willing to be bad on purpose. Being bad is very rewarding nowadays. You can protected first round draft picks, large bonus pools, potentially more revenue sharing dollars, etc. If you’re bad, be really bad. The system works in your favor.

In an effort to reduce the incentive to be bad, Clark suggested it would be beneficial for MLB and the MLBPA to explore a draft lottery during CBA discussions. “It will be beneficial to look at that, and not look at it in a vacuum but appreciate whatever it is that we attempt to negotiate there or propose there, that it ties into the other moving pieces and doesn’t create an imbalance,” he said.

Both the NHL and NBA have had draft lotteries for decades now. In the NHL, each of the 14 teams that miss the postseason gets a shot at the first overall pick, with the very worst teams having the best odds. The No. 1 pick is determined via lottery, then the remaining 13 teams are slotted in reverse order of the standings. The NBA has a similar system, except the top three picks are selected via lottery, then the remaining are set in reverse order of the standings. (I think. Someone tell me if I’m wrong.)

A similar system in MLB would involve a 20-team lottery. There are many other possible ways to do it, of course. Either way, the point would be ensuring teams wouldn’t automatically receive the tippy top draft picks as a result of being awful. It would reduce the reward for being bad, albeit slightly. I personally would like to see a rule preventing teams from getting the No. 1 pick in back-to-back years, or even multiple times in a span of several years, say three or four.

(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)
(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)

“Significant issues” with an international draft

It has long been management’s goal to implement an international draft, mostly because it would be another way to keep costs down for owners. MLB is so ready to do this that the international bonus pools are already broke down into slots so they could be easily transferred over to a draft format. Needless to say, “significant issues” still exist with an international lottery format.

“While conceptually it sounds nice to think of everyone entering the game in same fashion, the truth is there are significant issues,” said Clark. “It will undoubtedly be part of the negotiation in ’16, and it will be very interesting to see how that discussion manifests itself.”

I’m curious to know how the international draft order would be determined. Would MLB and MLBPA really give the worst teams the top picks in both the domestic and international drafts? That’s just another reward for being bad. An international draft would really hurt the Yankees, who never have high amateur draft picks and instead use the international open market to bolster their farm system.

MLBPA wants the luxury tax threshold to increase

This is not surprising at all: Clark says the luxury tax threshold should increase with the next CBA. “We were coming out of a very difficult time with the recession (when the last CBA was negotiated). As the industry continues to grow, considerations made to the competitive balance tax should grow as well,” said the MLBPA chief.

When the current CBA was ratified in 2012, the average payroll was $98.02M and the luxury tax threshold was $178M. Heading into 2016, the average payroll is $112.96M and the luxury tax threshold is $189M. So the average payroll has climbed 15.2% while the threshold has climbed 6.2%. That’s a problem! The threshold should really climb up to $200M next year, if not $210M. Obviously the new tax threshold will be very pertinent to the Yankees.

September call-ups rules will be revisited

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person in the world in favor of September call-ups. Every September the same arguments take place and it does feel like only a matter of time until some kind of change is made. Maybe teams will be allowed to call up their 40-man roster but must declare a 25-man active roster for each series. Something like that. Anyway, the September call-up rules will be revisited as part of CBA talks.

“We discussed as recently as 2011 formally what may make the most sense. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find common ground at that time,” said Clark. “I’m sure we’ll have the conversation. Perhaps this go-around we can find some common ground on considerations in September or any other month that may make sense.”

I like September roster expansion for a few reasons. First and foremost, it rewards teams with depth. If one club has a better third catcher or extra lefty specialist, let them take advantage. Secondly, expanded rosters allow teams to better manage workloads. Innings limits are a big deal nowadays and those extra arms come in handy. Expanded rosters also allow teams to audition young players and reward those who had strong seasons in the minors. Eh, whatever. We’ll see what happens. I know I’ll lose this fight eventually.

Position Battles of Note [2016 Spring Training Preview]


The long marathon that is the 2016 season will begin Thursday, when Yankees pitchers and catchers report to Tampa for Spring Training. Position players will follow next Wednesday. The first Grapefruit League game will be played March 2nd, two weeks from Wednesday. Real live baseball is coming soon.

This spring the Yankees will not have many position battles to follow. Their nine starting position player spots are set, the five rotation spots are pretty much set, the back-end of the bullpen is set, and two of four bench spots are set. It might even be three of four. You could argue as many as seven roster spots are up for grabs. In reality it’s probably more like four. Here are the three battles to watch.

The Backup Catcher

The Yankees have had some pretty good backup catchers in recent years, from the defensive-minded Jose Molina to the occasionally great Frankie Cervelli to the solid all-around John Ryan Murphy. Murphy is now a Minnesota Twin, meaning the backup job will go to Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine, or non-roster invitee Carlos Corporan. Sebastian Valle, another non-roster player, is the deep sleeper. He’s an outstanding defender and the Yankees value catcher defense highly.

Sanchez had a strong 2015 season in terms of production, development, and maturity, which helped make Murphy expendable. Brian Cashman said he would “like to unleash the Kraken” this year, referring to Sanchez, but there are big picture aspects to consider. Is Sanchez the best backup catcher candidate? The answer is almost certainly yes. Is sending Sanchez to Triple-A for a few weeks a good idea? That answer is almost certainly yes as well.

A total of 35 days in the minors this season will delay Sanchez’s free agency another year. Thirty-five days in 2016 equals control of Sanchez’s age 29 season in 2022. That’s a long time away and who knows whether Sanchez will be worth keeping around in 2022, but 35 days? That’s it? Sending him down for five weeks to gain control of his age 29 season is a no-brainer in my opinion. It’s a little 2016 pain for potentially a lot of 2022 gain.

Sanchez. (Presswire)
Sanchez. (Presswire)

Keep in mind five weeks for a backup catcher equals maybe six or seven starts. The Yankees have a ton of April off-days like they do every year — five in first four weeks! — so keeping Brian McCann in the lineup will be rather easy. Those six or seven starts might actually be more like four or five starts. Is sacrificing four or five Sanchez games in 2016 worth it to gain control of his age 29 season? Hell yes. The system makes this an obvious move.

Romine and Corporan, Sanchez’s two chief competitors, are in different situations. Corporan is on a minor league contract and can be easily stashed in Triple-A for depth this season. Romine is on the 40-man roster and out of options, meaning he can’t go to the minors without being exposed to waivers. That was the case last year, when Romine did slip through waivers unclaimed, but since this would be his second outright assignment, he could elect free agency.

If he doesn’t make the team, Romine in all likelihood would elect free agency and look to join a team that offers a greater big league opportunity. With McCann and Sanchez in tow, it’s hard to see how any upper level catcher gets MLB time in the Bronx without an injury. The position is locked down for at least three more seasons (the duration of McCann’s contract). I see four possible outcomes for the spring backup catcher competition:

  • The Best Team: Sanchez in MLB with Corporan in Triple-A and Romine out of the organization.
  • The Most Depth: Romine in MLB with Sanchez and Corporan in Triple-A.
  • The Eh I Get It Plan: Corporan in MLB with Sanchez in Triple-A and Romine out of the org.
  • The WTF Plan: Valle in MLB with Sanchez and Corporan in Triple-A and Romine out of the org.

As best I can tell Corporan does actually have a minor league option remaining, so the Yankees could carry him as the backup catcher for some period of time, then send him down once Sanchez’s service time is in a good place. They would still presumably lose Romine, but at least they’d keep Corporan.

Now, if Corporan does not have an option left — that’s possible, this stuff can be difficult to pin down — then the Yankees would need to drop him from the 40-man roster when the time comes to promote Sanchez. Going with the Eh I Get It Plan means the team could be faced with the possibility of losing Romine and Corporan once Sanchez is called up.

Maybe that’s no big deal. Romine and Corporan aren’t great by any means, but I do think you need an extra catcher or two in the organization. The Yankees got really lucky with McCann and Murphy last season — those two combined to catch every inning of every game in 2015 — and I wouldn’t count on that kind of health again. It just doesn’t happen at catcher. It’s a brutal position.

Carrying Sanchez as McCann’s backup likely gives the Yankees the best possible team to start the season. The benefit of manipulating his service time — especially since we’re only talking about losing him for a handful of actual starts — means sending him to Triple-A to start the season is the best thing for the organization long-term. Rolling with Romine or Corporan for five weeks is the price to pay for Sanchez’s age 29 season, and that’s not bad at all.

Lindgren. (Presswire)

At Least Three, Likely Four, Maybe Five Bullpen Spots

At some point soon we’re going to hear something about Aroldis Chapman‘s seemingly inevitable suspension. Rumor has it commissioner Rob Manfred will hand down the suspension before Spring Training, meaning it could be any day now. Chapman will not be charged with a crime stemming from his October domestic dispute incident but that’s irrelevant. The collectively bargained Domestic Violence Policy explicitly says no arrests or charges are necessary for a suspension.

It seems very likely Chapman will be suspended for some length of time. How long? Your guess is as good as mine. (I’ve seen a few reporters suggest a 15-game ban is coming.) Either way, any sort of suspension opens a bullpen spot come Opening Day. Right now the Yankees have Chapman, Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, and Ivan Nova locked into spots, leaving three open three bullpen spots. Chapman’s suspension would make it four open spots and an injury to a starter would make it five since Nova would have to jump into the rotation.

For the purposes of this post, let’s just assume the rotation stays healthy and Nova is indeed the long man come Opening Day. A reach? Eh, maybe. We’ll deal with the injuries as they come. Regardless of the number of open bullpen spots, the Yankees have no shortage of relief options this year. Check out the list of bullpen candidates coming to camp this spring:

Some of those guys are more likely to land a big league job than others — Kaprielian won’t be breaking camp with the Yankees, for example — but they’ll all be in Spring Training and therefore theoretically capable of winning a roster spot.

The Yankees have relievers of all shapes and sizes. Righties, lefties, strikeout guys, ground ball guys, guys with big league experience, guys who has yet to pitch above Single-A … you name it and the Yankees will have it in camp this year. And here’s the thing: aside from Shreve, who was so excellent the first four and a half months last season, I’m not sure anyone has a leg up on a spot.

It’s great the Yankees have so many bullpen options, because they’re inevitably going to need them. This is a position battle that won’t ever end. The Yankees once again figure to employ a bullpen shuttle this year to ensure Joe Girardi always has a fresh arm or two available, meaning whoever wins a spot on the Opening Day roster may only be there short-term. I can’t imagine that’s comfortable for the players, but that’s life. That’s the way the roster is built.

My guess is Shreve will get one of the open bullpen spots barring a catastrophic showing in camp. The other open spots could be decided by Spring Training performance (as silly as that may be) and roster considerations. The Yankees may not want to free up 40-man space just yet, for example. They open the season against the Astros and could opt to carry an extra lefty (for Colby Rasmus, Luis Valbuena, Jason Castro, etc.) before going with an extra righty for the second series of the season against the Tigers (almost their entire lineup is right-handed). We’ll see.

Spring Training will be an audition for all of those pitchers. Even Kaprielian, who wants to make a strong impression as he prepares for his first full pro season. If you don’t win a bullpen job in camp, you still want to put yourself in position for an early call-up. Make the Yankees remember you. That’s what Preston Claiborne did a few years ago. Someone like Campos could do the same this year.

Kozma. (Presswire)
Kozma. (Presswire)

The 25th Man

Cashman is on record saying the Yankees hope to use their 25th roster spot as a revolving door depending on their need at the time. If they need an extra reliever, they’ll use that spot for an extra reliever. If they need a position player, they’ll call up a position player. So on and so forth. Good idea in theory. How will it work in the real world? We’re going to find out soon enough.

The Yankees have three off-days within the first two full weeks of the season, so using that 25th roster spot on an eighth reliever out of Spring Training qualifies as overkill. I understand the starters are still getting stretched all the way out and whatnot, but eight relievers with all those off-days? Nah. Carrying an extra bench player early on makes the most sense, and the Yankees have plenty of infield (Jonathan Diaz, Donovan Solano, Pete Kozma, Ronald Torreyes, Rob Refsnyder) and outfield (Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, Ben Gamel) options.

The 25th man decision is going to depend entirely on Starlin Castro‘s ability to play third base, because if he can’t do it, the Yankees will need to carry a backup third baseman. So moreso than the backup catcher and bullpen battles, the 25th man competition is going to be influenced by outside factors. Castro’s the big one, but health with be a factor too, as will 40-man roster considerations. Is it worth designating someone for assignment to carry Kozma for two weeks? Maybe it is. That’s up to the Yankees.

Fan Confidence Poll: February 15th, 2016

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.

Heyman: Rangers sign Ike Davis to minor league deal

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

According to Jon Heyman, the Rangers have signed first baseman Ike Davis to a minor league contract. Brian Cashman confirmed the Yankees talked to Davis’ camp in the wake of Greg Bird‘s shoulder injury, but obviously they couldn’t work out a deal, so Texas it is.

Davis, 28, hit .229/.301/.350 (83 wRC+) with three homers in 74 games for the Athletics last season. He is one year removed from a .233/.344/.378 (109 wRC+) line with eleven homers in 143 games, however. As a lefty pull hitter with power, Davis would have been a fine Bird replacement for Triple-A.

It is sorta weird Davis went with the Rangers over the Yankees. With New York, Mark Teixeira is his only obstacle to MLB playing time, and Teixeira hasn’t played a full season since 2011. With the Rangers, both Mitch Moreland and Prince Fielder are ahead of him on the first base depth chart. Eh, whatever.

The Yankees do still need to dig up a Triple-A first baseman at some point. Deibinson Romero is one candidate, and there’s always Tyler Austin, but Cashman said they don’t consider him as candidate for the job at this point. Chris Parmelee and Matt Clark are still unsigned. They could do the job.

Weekend Open Thread

This is the final weekend open thread of the offseason (!) and I feel kinda bad I don’t have any links to pass along, but I was out of town these last few days and didn’t have much time to read. Instead I’ll pass along this Dave Cameron post explaining why the Yankees are the most underrated team in baseball heading into the 2016 season. Health is a significant question. No doubt about it. But the Yankees have a chance to be very good this year, even if some fans don’t seem to want to admit it.

Friday: Here is tonight’s open thread. The NBA is in their All-Star break and tonight is the Rising Stars Challenge (9pm ET on TNT), if you’re interested. The Rangers are playing and there’s some college hoops on the schedule as well, so talk about whatever you like right here.

Saturday: This is the open thread again. The NBA All-Star skills competition (slam dunk contest, three point contest, etc.) is on tonight (8pm ET on TNT), plus the Islanders are playing and there’s a ton of college hoops on the schedule too. Have at it.

Sunday: For the last time this offseason, this is the final night of the weekend open thread. Hooray for that. The NBA All-Star Game is on tonight (8pm ET on TNT), plus the Rangers are playing and there’s some college basketball on as well. Talk about all that right here.