The Roster: Who Makes it?

Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in a solid 51 days, but I’m looking ahead to when baseball really matters: Opening Day. Spring Training to me is like a season of “Survivor”. There are about 70+ players that show up for Spring Training but only 25 can make the cut. We know some of the regulars are in already so they don’t count (like Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira, etc.) but it is nice to see which young ones could make the roster for Opening Day. As Spring Training goes by, players find out that they will start in either Double-A or Triple-A. Some players even find out that they might get traded. But when Opening Day comes, only 25 of the best will compete in the Major Leagues vs. the other teams that are out there. Considering what the Yankees have done this off-season so far, I decided to make a roster on how I think it would look on Opening Day plus the lineups that the Yankees could work with.

Lineup 1:

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Jesus Montero DH
Russell Martin C

Lineup 2:

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Jesus Montero DH
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner LF

As I mentioned before, the regulars were a shoe in to make the 25 man roster


(unless someone got traded). But this is the ideal way that the lineup could appear on Opening Day. The reason that Mark Teixeira would bat 5th & Robinson Cano would bat 3rd or 4th in the order is because Cano is easily the Yankees best hitter. He has proved it since coming up with the Yankees in 2005, and time and time again is becoming a better name for him. With Brett Gardner & Derek Jeter’s case, I think that Gardner could bat lead-off with Jeter batting 2nd and then have Jeter bat 1st & Gardner batting 9th in what Joe Girardi would call the “Double Lead-Off Effect” (which when Gardner and Jeter are both healthy, works very well).  Jesus Montero would make the 25 man roster easily due to his impressive work in the 2011 season in September. Also Jesus Montero was named the #1 Yankee Prospect for the third year in a row.

Starting Rotation:

CC Sabathia LHP
Ivan Nova RHP
Freddy Garcia RHP
A.J. Burnett RHP
Phil Hughes RHP

This is how I would predict that the Yankees would have the starting rotation. Of course we have been hearing that A.J Burnett could be shopped around during this off-season, but in reality I don’t see Burnett going anywhere. I know this isn’t the best rotation but Cashman hasn’t done much during the off-season so far. There are a lot of ifs in this rotation after Sabathia. We wonder if Ivan Nova can have a repeat performance of his 2011 campaign. We wonder if Freddy Garcia can be consistent like he was in 2011. We wonder if A.J Burnett can pitch well, plain and simple. And we also wonder if Phil Hughes can bounce back from his horrendous 2011 season that was plagued with injuries. This rotation could use some work but Cashman hasn’t made the moves that were necessary to make this one of the best rotations in baseball.


Mariano Rivera RHP
David Robertson RHP
Rafael Soriano RHP
Joba Chamberlain RHP
Boone Logan LHP
Cory Wade RHP
Hideki Okajima LHP

Last year the Yankees had one of the best bullpens in the league and they could easily have that in 2012. I don’t see the Yankees re-signing Luis Ayala but they do have Cory Wade coming back. The Yankees also just recently signed Hideki Okajima who could have a chance to make the bullpen and become the second lefty behind Boone Logan. (Logan wasn’t going to be the “Lone Lefty” forever). We don’t expect for Joba Chamberlain to be able to be on the Opening Day roster, but he is working hard to come back from Tommy John Surgery. After a stellar year, David Robertson should return and reprise the 8th inning role while veteran closer Mariano Rivera will continue his role in what might be the final season of his career. I would say that if all of the Yankees can keep up the pace like last year then they could be a dominate force in 2012.

Bench Players

Eduardo Nunez SS/3B/2B
Francisco Cervelli C
Eric Chavez 3B/1B
Andruw Jones OF

After last year, the Yankees could use Eduardo Nunez up to bat and on the field (but please keep the errors to a minimum Nunie). Cervelli has proven himself that he could be a reliable asset to the team. He’s a good backup catcher and can be pretty handy offensively. (Cervelli has a knack of hitting with RISP which is something the team should learn how to do). Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez have both revealed that they would like to resign with the Yankees, and I think that they could fit well with the team. The Yankees may also sign Hiroyuki Nakajima, who could fill the same role as Nunez, making either to be a trade chip.

The Yankees didn’t look like much in 2011, but surprised the baseball world when they ran away with the AL East Championship with the rotation they had. Although the Yankees have lost some key players (Jorge Posada), they can still be the team to beat in 2012 because as we all know, the team in pinstripes doesn’t go down so easily.

About Delia E.

Delia Enriquez is the managing editor of Yankees Fans Unite. She enjoys analyzing the New York Yankees whether it be their pitching, roster or their manager. You can follow her on twitter @dfiregirl4 for more tweets, analysis and opinion on the Yankees.

Posted on December 29, 2011, in Personal Opinion and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. I don’t see line up #1 having a chance. But I do hope they use line up #2 Cano should be batting 3rd and Tex in the 5th slot.

    As for the bullpen, don’t discount Cabral instead of Okajima. I think he might just have a shot depending on how he does in spring training.

  2. I think your second lineup is more like it if Jeter hits like he did in the second half of the season.

    Also I have a feeling that both Jones and chavez wont’ be back. It will either be one or the other.

    Nice article Delia.

  3. I wonder if Tex has a good season how quickly would Girardi move him to 4th and Arod to 5th

    • I think A-Rod is locked and loaded in the 4th slot for this year as long as he stays reasonably healthy.
      To be honest I actually expect both A-Rod and Tex to rebound pretty decently this season. Just a hunch on my part but I think the Yankees can expect:
      A-Rod to have a BA between .280 and .290 / 100 to 115 RBI’s / 30 to 35 HR’s
      Tex to have a BA between .270 and .280 / 100 to 110 RBI’s / about 35 HR’s

      If I’m close you shouldn’t see any change in the line up for the Yankees in the 2013 season either.

      • If he A-Rod doesn’t have a decent Homerun year this year his shot at getting the all time record won’t happen.

        • You’re absolutely correct. My guess is he needs to hit between at least 25 to 35 HR’s this season.

          He needs to average in my opinion over the next 3 years at least 25 to 30. That would give him a over 700 with 3 years left on his contract. That would mean he would need 50 to 60 over the final 3 years. Not a guarantee but doable.

          • yeah if he has an old self year and knocks over 40 this year it would help alot.

            Also looking at some stats. It stinks to see that Tex’s average went down each year with the yankees.

    • Joe would not have a problem moving anyone around with the exception of Jeter.
      If the team wants a true 1-2 punch as leadoff hitters they should have Jeter #1 vs. Lefties and #9 vs. Righties. Same in revers with Brett. One always bats #1 or #9. Other then that I like the #2.

      • Would like to see that as well. but we know he will never do that to Jeter.

        • True, Matt!
          If Jeter starts out as he has the last few years…he should. In any case Jeter, when hitting well, is much better against lefties by .050 +/-.
          Even if Jeter hits as he did late last year, it would only make sense to move the two of them as pitching dictates. 🙂

          • As soon as Jeter slumps for 5 plus days all the talk will be should he retire or move him down the lineup.

            • Matt, that’s true. But Girardi is extremely loyal to his players sometimes in my opinion to a fault. He won’t move Jeter down past 2nd in the order unless Jeter goes to him and says move me.

              On a side note about Jeter. I have to be honest I really I mean really hope Jeter does NOT exercise his player option for the 2014 season. The Yankees really do need to start to get younger and more athletic on the left side of the infield.

  4. Currently A-Rod is at 629Hr’s here is where he will cash in

    $30M marketing agreement based on home run milestones ($6M each for reaching 660, 714, 755 and tying and breaking major league HR record)

  5. I think Dickerson needs to be added to your list of reserves.

  6. the yankees will not make the playoffs in 2012…they will not be as lucky as they were in 2011.

    • My friend, luck doesn’t get a team to 97 wins. It doesn’t make the team have the 2nd best record in the Major Leagues or win the division by 6 games with basically resting many of the regulars the last 2 weeks of the season.

      Luck has nothing to do with the Yankees having the 2nd best offense in the Major Leagues or the 4th best starting rotation in the AL or arguably one of the best bullpens in baseball.

      My friend, luck has nothing to do with it.

      • agreed with your statements. You also have to think of two things.

        Montero’s bat replacing the struggling Posada

        and Burnett can’t be any worse. (can he?)

      • I agree UFY. Over a 162 game season, luck evens itself out for the most part. So while players like Robertson, Granderson, Colon, Garcia, Ayala & Wade may have had close to career years, you also had guys like Hughes, ARod, Joba, Soriano, etc that had injury-plagued seasons and others who under-performed.

        However, I am a bit concerned that the Yanks have done nothing to improve their team for next year.Montero is a great addition so to speak but I still feel more is needed and I’m hoping Cashman finds a way to improve the pitching.

  7. The American League is going to be tough this yr with several teams improving . Yanks also have to be concerned with the competition in the East.

    They were arguably the best team in baseball before they collapsed. A lot of the collapse had to do with attitude and injuries. I think the team of Valentine & Cherington will breath a little life into the club.

    I expect Crawford to be much better in his 2nd yr and healthy. Bard tothe rotation is an interesting move that could pay dividends and Melancon & Bailey are good additions to the pen. If Cherington can add an innings eater to the rotation, they will be very strong again.

    Adding Matt Moore to an already stacked rotation gives them perhaps the best staff #1-5 in baseball. Friedman has young starting pitching to trade and a little money to spend so I expect him to add a couple of bats to this team.

    They are another team with money to spend. They already have a nice core to the team so a couple of shrewd moves make them dangerous. They always play the yanks tough but I think they are a year or 2 away from going all-in and challenging for the East.

    I think part of Cashman’s inactivity is he sees these teams improving and realizes the Yanks can’t afford any more mistakes like AJ, Soriano, the ARod contract, the now-expired Posada & Igawa contracts, etc. If the team is truly taking a prudent approach, I have no problem with that. I just hope that they will spend the money if and when the “right” player comes along. If not signing a Beltran, Oswalt, Cj Wilson, Darvish, etc. means they WILL be able to get somebody like Felix, Hamels or the like, then I’m Ok with it.

    I worry the Steinbrenners have decided they can buy bigger mansions and yachts by lowering the payroll permanently and Cashman has to live with the mistakes of the past especially since Hank (ARod) and Levine (Soriano) have created some of the biggest burdens.

    • My friend, I find myself both agreeing and disagreeing with you. So what else is news. If you don’t mind let me comment on your thoughts about the Steinbrenners then I’ll mention a couple of things about the other teams.

      1st) Steinbrenners – I think, no I know Yankees fans were spoiled by the “Boss”. He obviously didn’t care what it took to sign the best players. At least the best players as he saw them. And even when the Yankees didn’t do well there was always a buzz about them. Obviously the sons, Hal in particular seems to be taking a more conservative and low key approach. I think it’s way to early to judge them/him after all in just the 2 years since the dad died their hasn’t exactly been a flood of top of the line FA’s for the Yankees to throw their money at. I’m willing to at least wait and see what happens with the FA class next year if some of those pitchers actually hit the market.

      2) Boston Red Sox – The Red Sox were very good last year. Although and perhaps it’s the homer in me. I hesitate to call them the best team in baseball even before their demise in September. Let’s remember the season is a marathon not a sprint. And even before their demise to start the month of September the Yankees were right their with them in the standings. And that was with a make shift rotation, Alex being out 60% of the season as well as some of the other injuries. Yes the Sox had injuries, but the mark of a good team is overcoming those injuries not succumbing to them. And for the last 2 years the Red Sox have succumbed to the very issues that separate the merely good from the great teams.
      As for thoughts on Crawford, I would expect him to improve over his performance last year, God how can he not. But I do NOT expect him to perform up to the level he did in Tampa. But only the flip side I also expect Ellsbury to regress some and come back to earth. So I’m not sure one won’t offset the other at least to a degree.
      Then finally there is their pitching situation. Right now they have only 2 starters they can count on Beckett and Lester. Buchholz, has to prove that he can make it through an entire season which he hasn’t been able to do in 4 seasons with the Sox. And regardless of what they say or are attempting to do right now they have NO back of the rotation. They are going to try Bard but he’s never started a game at the major league lever and he hasn’t pitched over 75 innings ever while he’s been with the Red Sox. So it remains to be seen how he’s going to be “stretched” out to give the 180 to 200 plus innings this year. As for Aceves, he isn’t a starter he’s a relief pitcher he can give them 3 may be 4 innings but he’s not going to give them 6 innings consistently of 30 plus starts. Just one more quick comment about their relief group. They recently picked up a couple of young guys from Oakland and the Astros and have mostly young untested arms aside from them. Their is in my opinion a very big difference from closing or setting up for Oakland and the Astros where expectations are relatively low to being in the heat of the battle in the AL East in the 8th and 9th innings when everything is on the line the game, 1st place possibly and potentially the season. I don’t believe anyone in their pen has that sort of experience. And no one can convince me that going from Papelbon to Bailey as your closer isn’t a step down.

      Well I’ve already taken up to much space and for those who read this to much of their time. I’ll go into the “other” teams later on hopefully.

      • uyf1950…
        No way is it too long, it is to the point and very well thought out. I think I would agree with most of your comments because, they have a new Mgr. and he will not except anything but 100% from his players.

        • My friend, thank you. One comment about the manager. There is a fine line between being a no-nonsense manager and being what I’ll call a dictator. Especially with today’s players. I’m not sure Bobby V. in his everyday dealings with today’s players is going to be able to know where that line is often enough not to cross it. That’s just my opinion.

  8. I agree with the thoughts that Boston could be better this year odd of a collapse again are slim with the new regime. Their pitching is suspect in the back end but hey so is the Yankees.

    I do believe Tampa is the team to watch their pitching is so stacked.

    Toronto is another team looking to improve as well.

    For now i’m not worried about B’more.

    agreed with both of you that Crawford cant’ be as bad as he was last year. Unless the pressure of the media and fans actually got to him.

    Like UFY has said before some of the best trades are the one’s not made. I’m not to upset that nothing major has happened this year as long as down the road something is on the horizon. IE the young arms pan out or the 2013 class is the main focus.

  9. uyf couldn’t reply to your last comment above so writing here. Yes that’s why i wasn’t a fan of Girardi being hired. He played with some of these guys so I didn’t see the thought process. He tends to over manage the game alot and always goes with the BINDER over his gut.

    If Jeter has a good season this year and next he will def use that option I think he knows where he is in history and on the career hit list.

    • Matt my hope is that he has not just good seasons but great seasons. But, I’m not going to count on it. I do agree with you that if he indeed does have 2 good season he will exercise his option, I’m still not in favor of it though. Let me explain why.

      1st) There is no doubt that even if he performs decently offensively his range on defense has been on the decline and will only decline further over the next 2 years.
      2nd) The Yankees really do need to interject some youth on the left side of the infield.
      3rd) And perhaps this is the most critical of the reasons. I’m concerned that if he has even a marginal year in 2014 (his option year) should he exercise that option. That we will see a repeat of the negotiations the last time out with Jeter wanting and expecting an extension and at yes an unreasonable price. And I’ll be honest that is in no ones interest.

      In my opinion he needs to be the leader everyone expects him to be and pull a Pettitte leave on his teams and with the people (fans) wanting more. And not be like Mantle or Mays having stayed around a year or two to long.

  10. ufy1950…
    Don’t you know you are so oh so close to disaster, one can never criticize “The Captain”?
    Just Kidding, when I said about the same thing as you, I was ripped but, I must say…I did say it when he was in the .230 range.
    In the longrun, Lavine made a bad call by signing him for 3+ years, going over Cashmans head again. This is not the first time he has done it, more like the tenth or more.
    An accountant has more knowledge of a players worth then the GM?
    As for Jeter going out on his own call…never going to happen, he wants to be among the all time great Yankees…never going to happen! Maybe I should say, there are to many great Yankees way ahead of him to be included in that group!
    Jeter has had a very long and good career but, what has he ever been #1 in, other then most hits, most SO’s, most Gidp, most outs made, games played, SB, singles, hit by pitch and most AB’s. Would he stay around for Runs Scored, total bases, doubles, times on base or not….I do think he will try to stay…this would give him #1 in 13 batting catagories.
    But, once again…not one Baseball record…only Yankee records.
    You had some very salient points in your Post, I hope fans understand you (I think) nor I dislike Jeter! In my case I just got weary of fans holding him up to be more then what he is, he is a great Yankee SS but, not a HOF SS. I have no doubt that he will make it to the Hall, just as guys like Jim Rice and Tinker, Evers and Chance have. 🙂

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