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Guess The Roster v1.0
Damn, I’ve missed blogging about the Yankees.
I didn’t realize that it’s been over two months since my last Yankees-centric blog post, which I find to be indicative of how patient Brian Cashman has been this offseason. While the biggest hole (starting rotation) has yet to be filled*, the lineup and bullpen have been strengthened to all but ensure a third straight playoff appearance in 2011. And with pitcher & catchers due to report to Tampa in less than a month, what better time than now to take a crack at what the Opening Day roster might look like on March 31?
LF Brett Gardner, SS Derek Jeter, 1B Mark Teixeira, 3B Alex Rodriguez, 2B Robinson Cano, RF Nick Swisher, DH Jorge Posada, CF Curtis Granderson, C Russell Martin
Joe Girardi will have most of the same cast from 2010 back. The major shakeup involves arguably the most important regular Yankee. After 12 years as the everyday starting catcher, Posada will move from catcher to designated hitter in an attempt to keep him in the lineup as often as possible. It was believed that top prospect Jesus Montero would be in the mix to replace him, but the Yankees decided to attempt to resurrect Martin career after two disappointing season with the Dodgers.
What I like about this lineup is the flexibility when it comes to who hits where. For example, I have Gardner leading off and Jeter hitting 2nd. The two of them can easily be flip-flopped, and Girardi can also elect to have Jeter and Swisher go 1-2 in the order. There’s even a chance that Robbie can challenge Teixeira for the #3 spot ahead of A-Rod, but knowing our manager that is unlikely to happen.
C Francisco Cervelli, IF Ramiro Pena, OF Andruw Jones
If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, it’s that the Yankees’ bench is rarely set in stone over the course of any given season. While Cervelli, Pena and Jones are the favorites for their respective roles, there is some much-needed depth in the minors ready to step in if need be. Montero’s bat is ML-ready and has been working extensively on his defense over the last few seasons. Eduardo Nunez and Greg Golson showed enough promise in 2010 to earn a shot at the final bench spot, and the contributions of Colin Curtis and Kevin Russo cannot be forgotten. It should be interesting to see how the bench looks come Opening Day.
CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova
For those of you that have been living under a rock this offseason, the starting pitching is the Yankees’ biggest concern. While Sabathia and Hughes are fresh off career years, the uncertainty of Andy Pettitte’s future and the sporadic performance of Burnett cast a dark cloud over this staff. With a weak free agent SP pool and even worse trade market, this is where Ca$hMoney’s “patience” mantra kicks into high gear. The likes of Justin Duchscherer, Freddy Garcia, Kevin Millwood and even *gasp* Carl Pavano have been kicked around as potential pieces to add, thus taking the pressure off Nova as he looks to build on last season. Stay tuned to find out whether Pettitte comes back or not and who gets to replace him in the rotation.
Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, Pedro Feliciano, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain, Sergio Mitre
While Alfredo Aceves and Damaso Marte will be missed this season, it’s safe to say the Bombers will be fine in the bullpen. With Soriano stepping in as Mariano’s set-up man, it shouldn’t be long before we’re saying “NoMo runs for you!” in the 8th and 9th innings. D. Robby and Logan will be expected to continue their positive progression in 2011, and Feliciano should more than hold his own as the second left-hander in the ‘pen. Chamberlain has some work to do; after falling behind Robertson, Logan and Kerry Wood last season, he must do all he can to return to the elite status he had in 2007 and 2008. I included the Meat Tray Experience here because this is where he best fits the team — as the long reliever.
It’s easy to get discouraged with the make-up of the 2011 Yankees given the slow pace of Cashman’s moves and the Red Sox’ earnest acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. But this team is still built to win, at the very least, a playoff spot. And you can bet on the Yankees making countless moves between now and the end of September to put them in the best position to win the A.L. East crown.
What does your 25-man roster look like right now? Feel free to discuss.
*insert “That’s What She Said” joke here