Do the Yankees need to win the division?

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It’s not easy to find sane Yankees commentary. Between the bitter tabloids, bombastic talk radio, perspective-free national outlets and a fanbase with an unhealthy number of people who assume that anything short of 162-0 is a big freakin’ problem, thoughtful analysis can be hard to come by.

Thank goodness for places like TYU. There are a handful of good Yankees-centric blogs (like these guys and these guys), but I’m not sure that anyone thinks more deeply about the Bombers than they do.  They all have day jobs or are students. And I actually worry about them a bit, because I can totally see them losing track of their day-to-day while contemplating Joe Girardi’s strategic options in last night’s game or the precise lineup spot that optimizes Derek Jeter talents.

But that’s their problem. We all get to enjoy their thoughtful and reasoned Yankees analysis. Like today’s post about whether it matters if the Yankees win the division or the wild card, and whether it matters if they face Texas or Minnesota in the first round.  Lots of people have had takes on this in the last 48 hours or so, but I think TYU’s is the best I’ve seen. One reason: unlike so many commentators, TYU doesn’t assume Joe Girardi is an idiot, which is an increasingly common characterization of the guy that simply baffles me.

Overall I agree with TYU: Playing at home would be ideal, but sacrificing the division title in the name of team health is a fair tradeoff at this point.

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.