Christopher Carelli

Besides providing coverage of the New York Yankees for SNY.tv, Christopher Carelli's baseball commentary has also been published by Yahoo! Sports and The Cauldron. Follow Christopher on Twitter, @Chris_Carelli.

 

Yankees trying too hard? 00:03:06
The DNL panel feels it's too soon for the Yankees to honor Aaron Judge with a special section, and that it should have been done by the fans

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

The opening arguments have been made by both sides of the newly enshrined "The Judge's Chambers," an 18-seat juror's box assembly for fans who show their allegiance to Yankees rookie outfielder Aaron Judge.

On the plaintiff's side, the complaint is that despite Judge's MLB-leading 15 home runs (plus one misruled a triple), he's just a rookie and doesn't deserve a fully developed section with his name on it. Those against the enclosed area claim that there is nothing wrong with fans coming to the stadium with their robes, wigs and fake gavels, but the section should have grown organically over time.

For those who remember the 1990's early 2000's clubs, think the bullseyes with a large 'O' on them that fans in right field would hold up for the fan favorite Paul O'Neill to aim at. That wasn't a team manufactured promo, but rather grew over time by the fans. The contention is that named sections are meant for longtime club veterans or better retired heroes. Finally, why would the Yankees want to place undue pressure on their 25-year-old right fielder?

Tags: Aaron Judge, Chris Carelli
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 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

Our weekly minor league report canvases the Yankees' farm system, providing updates about the status of the teams in action and the organization's top prospects.

Notes: Top-30 prospect rankings (via MLBPipeline.com) are club based with overall MLB ranks, if applicable, in parenthesis. Prospects currently in the major leagues will not be covered here. Team records and statistics are through games played May 25, 2017.

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Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

The Yankees entered the 2017 campaign believing they would have much better performance from their first basemen after a dormant 2016 season. Instead, Yankees first basemen rank dead last in MLB in each component of the triple slash line (.176/.288/.301) and OPS+ (45, with 100 considered average).

The drain at the position in 2016 was disappointing, but the club was optimistic for 2017 with Tyler Austin set to build on last season's cameo, Greg Bird back and healthy, and 2016 National League home run co-leader Chris Carter signed for added power.

Austin was hurt before a competition at first base could begin, allowing Bird to win the job with a fantastic spring training, while Carter was relegated to the bench...

Tags: Greg Bird, Tyler Austin, Chris Carelli
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The Yankees' Starlin Castro celebrates in the dugout after hitting a three-run home run against the Pirates Saturday. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
The Yankees' Starlin Castro celebrates in the dugout after hitting a three-run home run against the Pirates Saturday. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

The Yankees have plenty of young talent on their roster, but because Starlin Castro is in his eighth season in the big leagues, it's easy to forget he's just 27 years old. Castro is in his baseball prime and based on his performance so far this season, he might be poised to tap into the potential some expected years ago.

At age-21 in 2011, Castro led the National League in hits (207) in just his second season and expectations heightened for the then-shortstop. Castro never reached the presumed zenith in Chicago and after a couple of rough seasons, he was traded to New York.

Tags: Starlin Castro, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) reacts after allowing a two run home run by Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (not pictured) in the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park. (Aaron Doster)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) reacts after allowing a two run home run by Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (not pictured) in the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park. (Aaron Doster)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Masahiro Tanaka has made eight starts for the Yankees this season. The bookends have been utter disasters, and maybe worse, what's been in between has been mediocre outside of one start. Tanaka's performance so far this season has both short-term and long-term consequences for the Yankees.
  
Short-term impact

Tanaka is paid to be the ace of this club. Whether you agree he is or is not, Tanaka is expected to perform as such by the Yankees. And quite honestly, Tanaka expects it of himself as well. When the fans are treated to such a dismal performance the boo birds will be in full force.

"I didn't do my job," Tanaka told Newsday. "They have all the right to boo me."

Tags: Masahiro Tanaka, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees shortstop Tyler Wade (82) throws to first base for the out on Philadelphia Phillies' Brock Stassi (78) (not pictured) in the fifth inning of a baseball game during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Butch Dill)
New York Yankees shortstop Tyler Wade (82) throws to first base for the out on Philadelphia Phillies' Brock Stassi (78) (not pictured) in the fifth inning of a baseball game during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Butch Dill)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Our weekly minor league report canvases the Yankees' farm system providing updates about the status of the teams in action and the organization's top prospects.

Notes: Top-30 prospect rankings (via MLBPipeline.com) are club based with overall MLB ranks, if applicable, in parenthesis. Prospects currently in the major leagues will not be covered here. Team records and statistics are through games played May 11, 2017.

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New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia (52) watches from the dugout after being removed from the game during the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia (52) watches from the dugout after being removed from the game during the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Alex Rodriguez had a surprising comeback season for the Yankees in 2015. In 2016, he was basically forced into retirement with a season-plus left on his contract. All of the sudden, it looks like a similar script might be unfolding for CC Sabathia.

Sabathia hurled 179 2/3 innings of 3.91 ERA ball in 2016, the first season in which he finished with an ERA below 4.70 since 2012. That's a long time to be mostly ineffective and then turn things around. Sabathia battled knee injuries and himself over those three years in which he compiled a combined 4.81 ERA in 424 1/3 innings. In 2016, the knee was steadied by a brace he used at the tail end of the 2015 season and came to grips with a transition he obviously had not fully accepted until last season.

Sabathia got off to a fine start this season, recording a 1.47 ERA in 18 1/3 innings across his first three starts. It appeared that he picked up right where he left off last year. The Yankees had a work horse in the stable. Unfortunately, Sabathia has been abysmal since. In Sabathia's last four starts (20 2/3 innings), he owns a 9.58 ERA and opposing batters are slashing .337/.416/.551 against him.

Tags: CC Sabathia, Chris Carelli
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 (AP)
(AP)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

We weren't supposed to be speculating on the Yankees adding players at the trade deadline this season, but a 21-9 record after 30 games wasn't expected either. The magnitude of the Yankees' success has begun to percolate questions about whether the Yankees will enter the trade market to add a starting pitcher.

The Yankees lead the American League in a multitude of offensive categories and their bullpen has been spectacular. The rotation has pitched well enough for the most part, but it is the one area which could been seen as a weak link.

Masahiro Tanaka's numbers are somewhat skewed by his horrendous first start of the season, as he's generated a 3.10 ERA in six starts since. CC Sabathia got off to a fine start, reminiscent of his comeback 2016 season, but he's been dreadful (10.43 ERA) in his last three starts. Michael Pineda and Luis Severino have pitched well overall with some dominant performances mixed in with mediocre ones. Finally, Jordan Montgomery has been quite solid as the fifth starter, turning in better efforts each time out.

Tags: CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Chris Carelli
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 (AP)
(AP)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Our weekly minor league report canvases the Yankees' farm system providing updates about the status of the teams in action and the organization's top prospects.

Notes: Top-30 prospect rankings (via MLBPipeline.com) are club based with overall MLB ranks, if applicable, in parenthesis. Prospects currently in the major leagues will not be covered here. Team records and statistics are through games played May 4, 2017.

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New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) hits a two run home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) hits a two run home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

That's some headline, isn't it? Aaron Judge launched his 13th home run in his 26th game of the season Wednesday and I'm raining on the parade, talking about a potential slump. I don't want to see it any more than you do, but it's going to happen.

As much as we want to play with the numbers - Judge is on pace for 81 home runs and 162 RBIs - a skid of some sort is coming. Eventually. Maybe.

We have some recent history to turn to suggest the time may be coming sooner than later. Last August, Yankees' catcher Gary Sanchez got the call-up and was named the club's starting catcher. In a 20-game stretch from August 4 through August 28, Sanchez put up some seriously amazing numbers.

Tags: Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge reacts after tying the game against the Baltimore Orioles during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge reacts after tying the game against the Baltimore Orioles during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

The New York Yankees hoped to be competitive and not fall behind in the season's opening month as they did in 2016. A rough start on the road was erased by an eight-game winning streak and the Yanks won five of their last six series, propelling them into a surprising position in the standings.

Where the Yankees stand

Record: 15-8, T-1st AL East, Home: 10-2, Road: 5-6

Tags: Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Adam Warren, Aroldis Chapman, Austin Romine, Brett Gardner, CC Sabathia, Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Jacoby Ellsbury, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Ronald Torreyes, Starlin Castro, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees infielder Tyler Wade (Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees infielder Tyler Wade (Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Our weekly minor league report canvases the Yankees' farm system providing updates about the status of the teams in action and the organization's top prospects.

Notes: Top-30 prospect rankings (via MLBPipeline.com) are club based with overall MLB ranks, if applicable, in parenthesis. Prospects currently in the major leagues will not be covered here. Team records and statistics are through games played April 27, 2017.

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 (AP)
(AP)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

The Yankees are averaging five runs per game, good for second the American League (sixth overall), yet it could be better.

The Yankees (12-7) are winning games in spite of their leadoff hitter Brett Gardner's struggles, while Jacoby Ellsbury, who could be hitting No. 1, is currently swinging in the middle of the lineup.

Tags: Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Leadoff hitters are typically a key to a team's success. In the Yankees' case, they've jumped out to an 11-7 record despite left fielder Brett Gardner's incredibly poor start at the plate. Is it too early to look at the future without the Yankees' home grown outfielder and is it too late to receive a good return in a trade?

Gardner is hitting .182 with a .318 on-base percentage, .236 slugging percentage and a 68 wRC+ (runs created per plate appearance where 100 is average) in 66 plate appearances on the young season. However, Gardner's troubles go all the way back to the second half of the 2015 season. 

The moment Gardner returned from his first All-Star game, he began to backpedal offensively. Gardner has stood at the plate 993 times since July 17, 2015. During the span, Gardner sports a .240 batting average, .334 on-base percentage, .333 slugging percentage and an 86 wRC+. Gardner, once prolific on the bases, has swiped a mere 26 bases (caught six times) in the stretch, though he has five this season. Gardner has managed just three months (out of nine, including this month) with a wRC+ above 100 since August 2015. These are not small samples.

Tags: Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier, Dustin Fowler, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mason Williams, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees starting pitcher Chad Green (57) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Field. (Kim Klement)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Chad Green (57) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Field. (Kim Klement)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Our weekly minor league report canvases the Yankees' farm system providing updates about the status of the teams in action and the organization's top prospects.

Notes: Top-30 prospect rankings (via MLBPipeline.com) are club based with overall MLB ranks, if applicable, in parenthesis. Prospects currently in the major leagues will not be covered here. Team records and statistics are through games played April 20, 2017.

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New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird (33) rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the second inning at Yankee Stadium. (Andy Marlin)
New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird (33) rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the second inning at Yankee Stadium. (Andy Marlin)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Yankees first baseman Greg Bird is off to a much slower start than anyone expected after an exceptional spring training. Despite Bird going 5-for-37 with a .535 OPS in 42 plate appearances, he should not be benched each time there is a left-handed pitcher on the mound.

I completely understand that the Yankees brought in Chris Carter's right-handed hitting power bat to complement Bird, but to enact a strict platoon would be a mistake in my opinion.

I bring this up because the writing is on the wall. Bird entered Sunday's game in a 0-20 slump and went 3-for-3 with a home run, double, single and two walks. The following game, Bird was on the bench in favor of Carter, who mind you came in slashing .182/.240/.273, because "lefty killer" Derek Holland was on the mound. Bird has two plate appearances this season against lefties, while Carter has nine. Neither player has a hit against a lefty.

Tags: Greg Bird, Chris Carelli
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 (AP)
(AP)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

The Yankees were supposed to be working the 2017 season without a strong collection of starting pitching. However, during the Yankees' current eight-game winning streak, the club's starters have silenced the detractors with a 6-0 record, 2.76 ERA and a 9.2 K/9 rate. How long can the run last?

Of the five starters, the pitcher expected to provide sterling efforts, Masahiro Tanaka currently owns the worst ERA. However, in his last start, Tanaka looked more like the pitcher who contended for the Cy Young Award last season. Tanaka had a superb spring training, but struggled in his first two starts (10 ER in 7 2/3 IP).

I don't worry about Tanaka. Once he hits a groove, he can rattle off solid start after solid start. Tanaka is the most complete pitcher of the crew and I have the plenty of faith he can put his rough start behind him.

Tags: CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees shortstop Tyler Wade (82) throws to first base for the out on Philadelphia Phillies' Brock Stassi (78) (not pictured) in the fifth inning of a baseball game during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Butch Dill)
New York Yankees shortstop Tyler Wade (82) throws to first base for the out on Philadelphia Phillies' Brock Stassi (78) (not pictured) in the fifth inning of a baseball game during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Butch Dill)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

The top four levels of the Yankees minor league system began action late last week. Let's take a look at some of the early returns.

Notes: Top-30 prospect rankings (via MLBPipeline.com) are club based with overall MLB ranks, if applicable, in parenthesis. Prospects currently in the major leagues will not be covered here. Team records and statistics are through games played April 13, 2017.

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New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) runs up the first baseline after hitting a two-run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. ( Adam Hunger)
New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) runs up the first baseline after hitting a two-run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. ( Adam Hunger)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Aaron Judge launched a home run in his first MLB at-bat last August and Yankees fans rejoiced in what was believed to be a sign the club was set for a long time in right field. However, raw talent precedes true development.

In Judge's late season cameo, he struck out in 44.2 percent of his 95 plate appearances. The poor performance forced Judge to study and alter his hitting mechanics during the offseason. He added a leg kick and strived to change his approach at the plate. There was enough doubt among the Yankees' braintrust that Judge had to win the right field job out of spring training.

Spring training statistics should be taken with a grain of salt, but for Judge, there was some underlying meaning. In 69 plate appearances he struck out 15 times (21.7 percent), which was a marked improvement from the display last season. Beyond the reduction in strikeouts, Judge was spraying the ball to the opposite field and laying off pitches he flailed at last summer, without sacrificing his home run power. This demonstrated the extra effort he put in during the winter was taking hold.

Tags: Aaron Judge, Chase Headley, Chris Carelli
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 (AP)
(AP)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Much of the excitement surrounding the Yankees this season centered on the young players getting a chance to take over roles with an eye toward the future. The first glimpse of a new era heightened last August when Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez took over behind the plate. Sanchez's historic home run barrage and cannon arm put a charge into the notion of the youth movement creating a new core.

Unfortunately, Sanchez will be out for four weeks with a biceps strain, leaving a huge vacancy in the lineup. The Yankees were already down one of their potent bats with Didi Gregorius out with a shoulder injury until early May, so Sanchez's malady further depletes the team's offensive firepower.

While the Yankees do not need to venture outside the organization for catching help, neither Austin Romine nor Kyle Higashioka will put up statistics resembling Sanchez's potential. As such, the Yankees will need someone in the everyday lineup to step up their game over the next four weeks. I contend this will have to be a collective effort, with four players potentially playing a bigger role.

Tags: Aaron Judge, Austin Romine, Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Jacoby Ellsbury, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees left fielder Clint Frazier (75) against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Field. (Kim Klement)
New York Yankees left fielder Clint Frazier (75) against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Field. (Kim Klement)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Each Friday, we'll delve into the happenings around the Yankees' farm system, which is currently the consensus No. 2 ranked system in the game. This week we will take a look at where the organization's Top-30 prospects (according to MLB Pipeline) will start the 2017 season and provide brief commentary on each player.

Notes: Players in the major leagues will not be covered here. Prospect rankings via MLBPipeline.com

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 (AP)
(AP)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

It takes patience for a foundation to set. Not until the cement dries can the structure be built, eventually resulting in a finished product.

The Yankees enter the 2017 season with a promising young group of players already at the major league level and a fine collection of minor league players nearly ready to join them. Add the Yankees' ability to make trades with the prospects they don't have room for and their ability to play at the top of the free agent market, it is easy to envision the opportunity for an extended run of highly competitive Yankees squads.

Rewind to the 1996 season when three-fourths of the Core Four (Jorge Posada made his mark later) - plus Bernie Williams - made significant contributions to the Yankees' first World Series title since 1978. The 27-year-old Williams rapped 29 home runs and drove in 102 runs, Derek Jeter won the Rookie of the Year award at 22 years old, Andy Pettitte won 21 games at 24 and Mariano Rivera racked up 130 strikeouts in 107 1/3 innings at the age of 26.

Tags: Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Luis Severino, Chris Carelli
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Gary Sanchez circles the bases after hitting a home run at Yankee Stadium.  (Brad Penner (USA Today))
Gary Sanchez circles the bases after hitting a home run at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner (USA Today))

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

In the second part of our Yankees 2017 season preview, we cover the offense and provide a prediction for the team's finish in the standings...

Positional starters

Gary Sanchez burst onto the scene last August, delivering a 20-homer performance and shattering records in the process. Sanchez, 24, entered spring training with numerous doubters, but he demonstrated that he is ready to build on his rookie production. Behind the plate, Sanchez has improved his receiving and has one of the best catcher's arms in the game.

At first base, Greg Bird assumes the role he seemed set to after a blistering rookie performance in 2015. Unfortunately, Bird suffered a season-ending shoulder injury before spring training last season. Bird, 24, benefitted from not pushing the rehab process as he came to camp strong and looks poised for a big season after launching seven home runs this spring. He should provide solid defense at first base.

Tags: Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Austin Romine, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, Rob Refsnyder, Ronald Torreyes, Starlin Castro, Chris Carelli
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 (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
(Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

Previewing the 2017 Yankees season, beginning with expectations for the pitching staff...

The rotation

Every single spot in the Yankees' rotation comes with at least a small amount of uncertainty.

Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka has pitched quite well since joining the team, yet he throws with a ticking time bomb in the form of a partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament. However, Tanaka demonstrated last season that his elbow does not hinder his performance and he looked exceptional during spring training. In what could be a walk year -- Tanaka has an opt-out in his contract at the end of this season -- the 28-year-old could turn in his finest season in pinstripes...

Tags: Adam Warren, Bryan Mitchell, CC Sabathia, Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betances, Luis Cessa, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Tyler Clippard, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Butch Dill)
New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Butch Dill)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Often times with spring training position battles, there is a clear winner and a certain loser, making life easier for the club to move forward. There are also circumstances when each player demonstrates the ability to handle the full time role but only one can make the roster due to lack of space. The Yankees are fortunate that their internal battle for the right field position has produced two of the better springs from all players in camp and that they can figure out a way to get each player a significant number of plate appearances this season.

Aaron Hicks entered camp as the player many have been waiting to see reach his potential. Meanwhile his competitor, Aaron Judge, was considered a part of the organization's future but there was uncertainty to his readiness. Both players have performed quite well this spring, to the point that the "winner" has become too close to call according to Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

Tags: Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Chris Carelli
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 (Reinhold Matay)
(Reinhold Matay)

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

The Yankees have a number of highly touted prospects, but what makes the organization's farm system one of the best in the game is its depth. With that in mind, let's discuss some second-tier prospects who might see some time with the big league club this season...

Chance Adams

The Yankees have conducted a five-player competition this spring to find the team's No. 4 and No. 5 starters. Adams was not part of the competition, but he did enough last season and during the spring while in MLB camp to be considered an option down the road.

Adams, the Yankees' No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, recorded a 2.33 ERA across 127 1/3 innings at High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2016, to go along with a 0.90 WHIP, 10.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. This spring, Adams tossed four innings and had a 2.25 ERA in big league camp. It would not be surprising if he continues to climb the rotation ladder as the season progresses, making him a potential call-up in case of injuries within the MLB rotation.

Tags: Austin Romine, Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez, Masahiro Tanaka, Mason Williams, Ronald Torreyes, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (11) runs to third on his way to the plate following a solo home run to lead off the first inning of an MLB spring training baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. (Reinhold Matay)
New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (11) runs to third on his way to the plate following a solo home run to lead off the first inning of an MLB spring training baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. (Reinhold Matay)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

The baseball adage goes, spring stats don't mean anything. For the most part I believe this to be true, except in matters when there are trends that underlie the performance. At the moment there are a few players in Yankees camp off to fairly slow starts. What does it mean for them and for the club?

Chris Carter

Tags: Brett Gardner, CC Sabathia, Greg Bird, Jacoby Ellsbury, Chris Carelli
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 (Jonathan Dyer)
(Jonathan Dyer)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Bullpen use is evolving in the Major Leagues and if there is a team that has a chance to utilize one of the "new" nuances, it is the New York Yankees.

I'm not speaking of the best relievers coming into games in the fifth or sixth inning as we saw often during the 2016 postseason. While the Indians' deployment of Andrew Miller demonstrated how effective teams can be when they employ relievers that are not only dominant, but can also last more than one inning in the process, such use throughout the regular season is seen as unrealistic.

The Yankees have two dominant relievers in Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman, but each of them should be relegated to one-inning performances for the most part this season. If the club reaches the postseason, they could extend their appearances, but I don't expect it to happen often in the regular season.

Tags: Adam Warren, Alroldis Chapman, Bryan Mitchell, CC Sabathia, Dellin Betances, Luis Cessa, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Tyler Clippard, Chris Carelli
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Mar 5, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (81) triples during the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Mar 5, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (81) triples during the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

Top prospect Gleyber Torres is wowing the Yankees and making it very difficult for club officials to send him to minor league camp.

The 20-year-old told reporters that this is the first time he's faced Major League pitchers and he's "surprised" and "happy" with the results. Torres is hitting .455 with seven extra-base hits, including two homers, in 22 Grapefruit League at-bats. 

Torres has received more playing time he normally would have thanks to the absence of starting shortstop Didi Gregorius, who is playing with the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

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Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) reacts after striking out against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the third inning during game two of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball series at Nationals Park. (Brad Mills)
Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) reacts after striking out against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the third inning during game two of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball series at Nationals Park. (Brad Mills)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Bryce Harper signs with the Yankees in 2019! Manny Machado in pinstripes in 2019! ALL the free agents to the 2019 Yankees!

Fans and media alike succumb to visions of grandeur where it concerns the winter following the 2018 season. It seems tweets or articles placing Harper, Machado or other elite players on the Yankees in 2019 are posted daily. Unfortunately, the front office of a major league baseball club simply won't work in a dream state. It is time to reel the chatter in.

Of course, the Yankees front office looks ahead when making immediate decisions, but if you believe the club is considering roster choices in 2017 and 2018 based on when Harper, Machado and others become free agents, you couldn't be more wrong.

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New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) in the dugout before a game against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) in the dugout before a game against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Spring training is just a couple of weeks old, so managers are tinkering around with many lineup variations to see if certain iterations work better than others. Let's discuss some lineup options - based on handedness and substitutions - that Yankees manager Joe Girardi might consider for this season.

Versus right-handed pitcher

There are plenty of other variations that Girardi can go to, however, these two show what I envision he'll explore the most. Keep in mind, the Yankees do not expect to have any left-handed hitting bench options other than Aaron Hicks (a switch-hitter) if he loses the right field job.

Tags: Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Austin Romine, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ronald Torreyes, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees' Aaron Judge flies out during the second inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Miami Marlins Tuesday, March 8, 2016, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)  (Jeff Roberson/AP)
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge flies out during the second inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Miami Marlins Tuesday, March 8, 2016, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

Spring Training baseball is filled with surprising developments and Yankees camp has been no different. Yet, we all know that some of what happens in is quickly dispelled as it progresses, or dissipates as teams head north to begin the regular season. With the Yankees off to a 9-3 start, which performances can the team confidently embrace?

One of the Yankees' biggest questions heading into spring training centered on Aaron Judge's ability to make the necessary adjustments to his swing and approach at the plate as he competes for the starting right field job. The common belief was if Judge, who turns 25 years old in April, failed to display significant improvement at the plate, he would find himself in Triple-A at the start of the season...

Tags: Aaron Judge, Adam Warren, Bryan Mitchell, Greg Bird, Luis Cessa, Luis Severino, Chris Carelli
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 (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
(Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

The Yankees have five players who are favorites to make the 25-man roster participating in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, which begins Monday with Round Robin play. What is the potential level of impact for the players and the club?

No impact

Tyler Clippard, who is on the United States club, will likely feel no impact from his participation. The veteran 34-year-old right handed reliever came to camp with a job locked down and nothing in particular to work on other than getting ready for the regular season...

Tags: Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius, Luis Severino, Tyler Clippard, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees relief pitcher Tommy Layne (39) pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Yankees relief pitcher Tommy Layne (39) pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Bullpens continue to grow into a major facet of a club's makeup. It's no longer enough to have some decent relievers and a strong closer. Rather, teams focus on building formidable backend combinations, which in some cases stretch five relievers strong.

The known

Tags: Adam Warren, Alroldis Chapman, Bryan Mitchell, Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betances, Jon Niese, Tyler Clippard, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees pitcher Luis Severino (40) and pitcher Luis Cessa (85) work out as pitchers and catchers report for spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Kim Klement)
New York Yankees pitcher Luis Severino (40) and pitcher Luis Cessa (85) work out as pitchers and catchers report for spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (Kim Klement)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Battles in spring training are as common as tired arms and late swings. However, when a rotation competition goes two roles deep and has five competitors, some might question the team's reasoning.

Why such an expanded competition?

Tags: Adam Warren, Bryan Mitchell, Luis Cessa, Luis Severino, Chris Carelli
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 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV:

Rebuild. Transition. Whatever we call it, the Yankees are operating the organization differently than they have in recent memory. What remains to be seen is whether the Yankees will stay the course regardless of whether they are winning or losing. I suggest it is imperative they do.

How the Yankees handled 2016 and the offseason

The Yankees felt comfortable entering 2016 as a few veterans experienced comeback efforts in 2015. However, a slow start and poor production through the middle of the season for some of those same players, pushed the Yankees into a direction unseen in decades...

Tags: Aaron Judge, CC Sabathia, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Michael Pineda, Tyler Austin, Tyler Clippard, Chris Carelli
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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV:

Yankees manager Joe Girardi begins his 10th season as the club's skipper with arguably his toughest test ahead of him. Until the 2016 trade deadline passed, Girardi consistently managed a roster filled with star-studded, high-salaried, yet older players. When the dust settled, Girardi was in the midst of a full-blown transition, with a roster teeming with young talent. In the final year of his contract, can Girardi get the most out of the youngest team the Yankees have fielded since the 1990s, and thus earn another contract?

How did Girardi fare in 2016?

Coming off a Wild Card appearance in 2015, the Yankees returned a bulk of the same roster for 2016 with renewed expectations. Unfortunately, not all the veterans were able to replicate their inspired play from 2015. The Yankees got off to a 9-17 start and found themselves at the .500 mark as they reached the trade deadline...

Tags: Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Luis Severino, Chris Carelli
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GEICO SportsNite: Yankees news 00:01:32
Sweney Murti reports on all the latest news from Yankees camp and general manager Brian Cashman speaks to the media.

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Dellin Betances has the talent to be a closer. However, the mammoth right-hander seems more at ease as the precursor to close out games. Fortunately for the Yankees, Betances will reassume that role in 2017.

How did Betances fare in 2016?

Tags: Alroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, 2017 Expectations, Tyler Clippard, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) pitches against the Kansas City Royals during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) pitches against the Kansas City Royals during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Aroldis Chapman is the hardest throwing closer in the game and one of the few must-see Yankees. That's all well and good, but will Chapman be able to push the Yankees into playoff contention behind his 100+ mph fastballs?

How did Chapman fare in 2016?

Tags: Alroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, 2017 Expectations, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) talks on the dugout phone during the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi (28) talks on the dugout phone during the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

While a good number of players have already reported to Tampa, Tuesday marks the official beginning of spring training for the New York Yankees. As any other club, the Yankees have several areas of uncertainty which they hope will be resolved by April.

Who rounds out rotation?

Tags: Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Adam Warren, Alroldis Chapman, Bryan Mitchell, Dellin Betances, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Luis Cessa, Luis Severino, Tyler Austin, Tyler Clippard, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. (John Rieger/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. (John Rieger/USA Today Sports Images)

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV:

Michael Pineda is an enigma, and unfortunately for the Yankees that's the only consistency he has offered since being traded to New York before the 2014 season. Will Pineda, who becomes a free agent after this season, continue to bewilder the Yankees or reach his upside potential in 2017?

How did Pineda fare in 2016?

Pineda was good enough in 2016 to rack up 207 strikeouts in just 175 2/3 innings (10.6 K/9, which was best among American League starters) and bad enough to register a 4.82 ERA (3.79 FIP) and 1.35 WHIP. Pineda was not nearly as stingy as in recent seasons with his walk rate (2.7 BB/9 as opposed to 0.8 BB/9 in 2014 and 1.2 BB/9 in 2015) and he allowed 27 home runs (1.4 HR/9). The strikeouts marked Pineda's career high, while the ERA, WHIP, walks and home runs were all career-worst measures. Pineda also averaged a career-low 5.5 innings per start and reached the seventh inning in just four starts.

Tags: Michael Pineda, 2017 Expectations, Chris Carelli
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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV:

One can argue the Yankees should have been prepared for CC Sabathia to break down during his seven-year deal, which was advanced by a two-year extension. Unfortunately, Sabathia's troubles developed much sooner than the club hoped and encapsulated three full seasons as he battled injuries and diminished effectiveness. Sabathia finally discovered how to pitch without a power fastball, which led to a comeback season in 2016. Can he finish off his contract with a strong 2017 season?

How did Sabathia fare in 2016?

Sabathia entered the 2016 season with skeptical optimism based on his last handful of starts in 2015. He had been fitted for a knee brace which provided him the ability to pitch while limiting stress on his surgically-repaired right knee. The brace provided Sabathia confidence in the landing of his delivery, which allowed the left-hander to concentrate on his transformation into a finesse pitcher.

Tags: CC Sabathia, 2017 Expectations, Chris Carelli
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Chris Carelli, SNY.TV:

Masahiro Tanaka has a decision to make at the end of the season and his performance on the mound will likely dictate whether he opts out of the final three seasons of his seven-year, $155 million deal with the Yankees. Will Tanaka finally put to rest the notion of whether he was an ace in 2016, and can he duplicate that effort in 2017?

How did Tanaka fare in 2016?

Tanaka was far and away the Yankees' top starter in 2016 and pushed himself into the American League Cy Young Award discussion in the process, finishing seventh in the voting. Tanaka threw the most innings of his major league career (199 2/3) and finished with a 14-4 record, 3.07 ERA (142 ERA+), 1.07 WHIP, 165 strikeouts, and 36 walks...

Tags: Masahiro Tanaka, 2017 Expectations, Chris Carelli
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 (Gary A. Vasquez)
(Gary A. Vasquez)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

The Yankees' youth movement will be in full effect in right field this season. The club will give long-time prospect Aaron Judge a chance to win the role full time with the initial fallback option being former first-round pick Aaron Hicks. If it gets beyond these two players, the Yankees could be forced to institute a revolving door of right fielders in 2017.

How they fared in 2016

Tags: Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, Gary Sanchez, Jacoby Ellsbury, 2017 Expectations, Chris Carelli
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Chris Carelli, SNY.TV:

Jacoby Ellsbury has four years left on his seven-year, $153 million contract with the Yankees. He has yet to deliver the performance typically warranting such a deal and time is running out for him to turn the tide. Will 2017 be more of the same, or can Ellsbury channel some of the production he seemingly left in Boston?

How did Ellsbury fare in 2016?

Tags: Jacoby Ellsbury, 2017 Expectations, Chris Carelli
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 (AP)
(AP)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Brett Gardner's name is constantly bandied about in trade rumors, but once again he seems locked in as the Yankees' Opening Day left fielder. Gardner brings enough to the table to make his contract desirable, but can he reclaim extra-base power and base-stealing prowess in 2017, which would aid the Yankees on the field and boost his value on the trade market?

How did Gardner fare in 2016?

Gardner's overall offensive performance continued to skid in 2016. Gardner posted a .261 batting average, .351 on-base percentage and a .362 slugging percentage. Gardner stroked 22 doubles, six triples and seven home runs, scored 80 runs and drove in 41. Gardner's 92 OPS+ was by far his lowest measure since 2011. Most disappointing was Gardner's work on the base paths in which he swiped just 16 bases in a disturbingly low 20 attempts.

Tags: Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, 2017 Expectations, Chris Carelli
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St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday (7) looks on after hitting a home run during the third inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. (Caylor Arnold)
St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday (7) looks on after hitting a home run during the third inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. (Caylor Arnold)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

As an All-Star outfielder with the St. Louis Cardinals, Matt Holliday was a key component to the club's offense for over seven years. Holliday enters a new phase in his career in 2017; as part of a new team and in a new role. Holliday will shed his glove on most days, but his offensive prowess will be integral to the Yankees success this season.

How Holliday fared in 2016

Tags: Gary Sanchez, 2017 Expectations, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees third baseman Chase Headley (12) singles during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Kim Klement)
New York Yankees third baseman Chase Headley (12) singles during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Kim Klement)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Yankees third baseman Chase Headley might be the most maligned player on the club's roster who truly doesn't deserve it. There is nothing flashy about Headley's game, but he's been consistent with the Yankees. Maybe, the type of "consistency," is the problem for fans.

Headley has perpetually stunk in one or two months of a season - whether that be at the plate or in the field - and has produced extended stretches of excellent play which elevate his season metrics into "average player" territory. Can Headley, who turns 33 in May, put together a season - one filled with above-average play in all facets - from April through October?

Tags: Chase Headley, 2017 Expectations, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees catcher Austin Romine congratulates shortstop Didi Gregorius after scoring against the Houston Astros in the fifth inning at Minute Maid Park. (Thomas Shea/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Yankees catcher Austin Romine congratulates shortstop Didi Gregorius after scoring against the Houston Astros in the fifth inning at Minute Maid Park. (Thomas Shea/USA Today Sports Images)

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | About Me | Archives

The Yankees traded for Didi Gregorius believing in his upside potential and exhibited patience after a slow start in his first season in pinstripes. The club's relaxed attitude paid off as Gregorius flourished for a better part of 2016. Gregorius' gradual evolution has fans wondering if he can continue to elevate his game. 
 
How Gregorius fared in 2016 
 
In 2016, Gregorius became one of the best players on the club, turning in his finest all-around season. However, like much of the rest of the club, Gregorius got off to a rocky start in the season's opening month, hitting .224 with four extra-base hits, a .254 on-base percentage and a .343 slugging percentage. From that point Gregorius slashed .283/.311/.461 with 30 doubles, 18 home runs and 66 RBIs. Gregorius finished the 2016 season with career-high marks in batting average (.276), hits (155), doubles (32), home runs (20), RBIs (70) and slugging percentage (.447). 

Tags: Didi Gregorius, 2017 Expectations, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro hits a solo home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the second inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro hits a solo home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the second inning at Yankee Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Chris Carelli, SNY.TV:

After Robinson Cano left the Yankees via free agency, the club went through two seasons of vacant offensive production without spectacular glove work from a slew of players at the keystone. The 2016 season brought stability and an offensive uptick with Starlin Castro, but it can be argued the soon to be 27-year-old infielder has yet to attain his ceiling. Can he reach it in 2017?

How Castro fared in 2016:

Tags: 2017 Expectations, Starlin Castro, Chris Carelli
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