Thursday, September 24, 2009
It's never too soon to start figuring out the Yankees roster for the AL Division Series. Of course 90% is set in stone, health permitting, with just a handful of question marks.
First a look at the most obvious:
Around the Horn - Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez
From left to right - Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher
Brett Gardner, Jose Molina, Eric Hinske
CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte
Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes, Phil Coke, Damaso Marte, Al Aceves
So this is where the questions begin. We've sewn up 20 spots, which leaves five more to be determined.
For the bench, Jerry Hairston Jr. is a given IF he is healthy. And that's a major question after he heard something pop in his wrist yesterday out in Anaheim. If Hairston can't go, that means the much less experienced Ramiro Pena would be the backup infielder.
The Yankees are probably set in the outfield. Gardner will most likely get some starts in the playoffs and hopefully Hinske will never see the field, but be used strictly as a pinch-hitter with pop off the bench. Michael Kay keeps trying to sell us on Joe Girardi taking the speedy Freddy Guzman to be this year's Herb Washington. And we all know how that worked out.
The starting rotation is set for the division series. Beyond that, the Yankees will need a fourth starter if they advance to the ALCS, and subsequently, to the World Series. It's hard to imagine Joba Chamberlain being that guy right now. He's a mess, both pitching-wise and psychologically. Right now, a game four could go to Chad Gaudin. (At this point, Sergio Mitre should not be any part of the mix.)
The bullpen should include Chamberlain if he is not going to start. There's no reason why he couldn't face a couple of batters here or there late in the game. At this point, we would kick Brian Bruney to the curb, and we hope David Robertson will be ready to go. However, if his sore shoulder doesn't allow him to pitch much in the final 10 games, then we would skip him as well.
So, who do I go with for those last five spots?
Hairston, Pena, Chamberlain, Gaudin, Robertson. If Hairston can't go, then Guzman probably is a go. If no Robertson, then I would actually take Jonathan Albaladejo over Bruney.