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.
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.
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.
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.
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.