Monday, March 19, 2007

Roster Battle 2007

So, I got to wondering. What if every position was decided by Spring Training? What if past performance meant nothing? What if the money meant nothing? Which of the Yankees would be starting based on the 2007 Spring games, and which would be off the roster? (Of course, if this was a real scenario you'd probably see different results, but it's just for fun.) This exercise is really only valuable for entertainment, and perhaps as a guide to those positions which should really be up in the air. Here we go.

Catcher
Jorge Posada, Todd Pratt, Ben Davis, Wil Nieves, Raul Chavez

Posada gets the starting nod, without any real competition here. That's no surprise. The other guys, in a mad scramble for the BUC spot, are all generally poor, but Raul Chavez has the best hitting line of the group with 8 total bases and a .294 average. Slim pickins, but congratulations Jorge and Raul.

First Base

Jason Giambi, Doug Mientkiewicz, Josh Phelps, Andy Phillips, Juan Miranda

Giambi, Mientkiewicz, and Phelps have had the chance to show themselves more than Phillips and Miranda. Giambi hasn't exactly set the world on fire at the plate, but he is tied with Phelps at 12 total bases. Phelps has been the star at this spot hitting .400/.481/.600 in 20 at bats. Doug Mientkiewicz has been good in the field for the most part, but it's really hard to use a roster spot for a gold glove defender who is only hitting .045/.233/.045 in 22 at bats. Not at first base anyway. At this point Phelps gets the nod at first. (I'll revisit Giambi later.)

Second Base

Robinson Cano, Miguel Cairo, Andy Cannizaro

Easy. Cano leads the team in hits, RBI, and Total Bases. Cairo has also been good, so we'll come back to him for the utility infielder spot later. Congrats Robbie Baseball.

Shortstop
Derek Jeter, Chris Basak, Alberto Gonzalez, Angel Chavez, Ramiro Pena

Jeter is the logical choice here, obviously, but this is a little game and Basak has been the best player at the shortstop position in camp. He's got 18 total bases and a batting line of .458/.500/.750 to Jeter's 12 and .333/.381/.361! Gonzalez has been booting the ball around the infield, and the rest are non-factors. Congratulations Chris Basak. Maybe you'll be named Captain next.

The Third Baseman!
Alex Rodriguez, Eric Duncan, Marcos Vechionacci

A-Rod has had a good Spring at .323/.425/.355, but has lacked power. It's evident by the lack of at bats for the other two players, that Alex is the king at third base.

Left Field
Hideki Matsui, Melky Cabrera Kevin Reese

Matsui is tied with Basak with 18 total bases to lead the Yankees, and has posted an impressive .333/.366/.500 line to lead the other two players by a wide margin. Melky has been at the Mendoza line all Spring, while playing a very good outfield. Reese has impressed while hitting .308, all but knocking Melky off the club. We'll have to wait to see who plays 4th outfielder, but it ain't the Melk man.

Center Field
Johnny Damon, Brett Gardner, Bronson Sardinha

Damon hasn't done all that much to hang onto his job in center. He's a funny guy, and lightens up the clubhouse, but Sardinha has hustled his way into the starting center field job on the Yanks. Gardner was highly thought of coming in, but Bronson is not going to be denied at .345/.355/.483, 7 strikeouts to only one walk or not. Damon hangs in with Kevin Reese for the 4th outfield spot.

Right Field
Bobby Abreu, Kevin Thompson, Jose Tabata

This spot is a tough place to compete. Abreu is Abreu, but he hasn't had a single Spring Training at bat to this point. He's the incumbent starter, and you don't usually replace a guy like that when he's injured. Well, this is my game and I'm replacing him. Both Thompson and Tabata showed nicely at camp. Thompson hit .333/.379/.625, while Tabata was also impressive at .462/.563/.692 in fewer at bats. Abreu remains with an asterik in the right field mix, but he's going on the imaginary DL to make room for your new Yankees right fielder, Jose Tabata.

We have room for a DH, a utility infielder, a 4th outfielder, and one other bench position that I intend to hand to the best remaining bat. Here goes:

DH Jason Giambi - He's the best hitter in camp that can't field.
UIF Derek Jeter - Apologies to Miguel Cairo who also played well.
4OF Kevin Reese - The best outfielder in camp without a starting job.
PH Bobby Abreu - He needs to be here to get a chance at his old job.
BUC Raul Chavez - See "Catchers"

Starting Pitchers
Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, Chien Min Wang, Kei Igawa, Carl Pavano, Phil Hughes, Humberto Sanchez, Tyler Clippard, Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens, Darrell Rasner, Steven Jackson

Let's get right down to it. Hughes, Jackson, and Ohlendorf were both young and ineffective so it's an easy decision to send them down. Sanchez was hurt, but unlike Abreu he had no job to lose. He goes down. Tyler Clippard deserves a shot at the bullpen, but he didn't get enough innings at this point to see his stuff. He didn't particularly impress with the Ks, but he also kept the opposition from scoring. Still, no starting job for you. That leaves Moose, Pettitte, Wang, Igawa, Pavano, Karstens and Rasner.

Igawa and Pavano allowed 19.3 and 16.9 baserunners per 9 innings, respectively. That's not a recipe for success. Gone. This is easy.

Karstens has 9 Ks and no walks in 9 innings and joins Pettitte at the front of the rotation holding opponents under .200 at the plate. Rasner, Wang, and Moose round out the rest of the spots.

The Bullpen
The pen goes Clippard for the long man role, plus Vizcaino for the strikeout rate, Chase Wright for the .087 BAA, Colter Bean for the team leading 3.2 baserunners allowed per 9, Sean Henn for being the most effective lefty in camp, Scott Proctor for being ready everyday, and Mariano because you don't leave off Mariano even if he has no arms or legs.

There's your 2007 Yankees.

C Posada
1B Phelps
2B Cano
SS Basak
3B Rodriguez
LF Matsui
CF Sardinha
RF Tabata
DH Giambi

UIF Derek Jeter
4OF Kevin Reese
PH Bobby Abreu
BUC Raul Chavez

SP Andy Pettitte
SP Mike Mussina
SP Chien Min Wang
SP Jeff Karstens
SP Darrell Rasner

RP Tyler Clippard
RP Colter Bean
RP Chase Wright
RP Sean Henn
RP Luis Vizcaino
RP Scott Proctor
CL Mariano Rivera

That was fun.