Predicting The Playoff Roster, Take 1

With September fast approaching and the Yankees 6.5 games clear of the Red Sox in the Wild Card race, I thought it would be interesting to try and figure out what the playoff roster might look like if the Yankees hold on to a postseason spot. With some injuries and strong performances from young players muddying the waters, it is likely that I will be wrong, but hopefully we can come close to estimating the actual roster.

Here are the locks:

Position Players (12)
Jorge Posada
Francisco Cervelli
Mark Teixeira
Lance Berkman
Robinson Cano
Derek Jeter
Alex Rodriguez
Brett Gardner
Curtis Granderson
Nick Swisher
Marcus Thames
Austin Kearns

Pitchers (8)
CC Sabathia
Andy Pettitte
Phil Hughes
Mariano Rivera
Joba Chamberlain
David Robertson
Boone Logan
Kerry Wood

That leaves 5 remaining spots, with only a utility infielder, a 4th starter, and a long man being necessities. AJ Burnett and Javier Vazquez are likely the only candidates for the starting spot, although I guess it is possible for Nova to swipe it if both veterans continue to pitch terribly and he sustains his strong start. As for the utility role, that will likely be between Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena, with Pena the favorite for the role due to his longer tenure and superior glove. The long-man role is more complicated, in that Nova, Alfredo Aceves, and Dustin Moseley are all legitimate options for that role.

Here is my final 5:

Ramiro Pena
Chad Moeller
AJ Burnett
Ivan Nova
Damaso Marte

I chose Pena over Nunez because of his superior defense. The only context in which I could see him entering a game is as a runner or defensive replacement, and I do not see a measurable difference between the two as runners. Pena is the better defender at both short and third, so he gets the nod.

I selected Burnett as the 4th starter simply because I think he is the most likely to be handed the job if he shows even a bit of improvement during September. Shockingly, this leaves Javy Vazquez on the outside looking in, although a poor Burnett start in Round 1 could result in Javy being given a shot should the Yanks reach the ALCS.

As for Chad Moeller, his inclusion is the result of Frankie Cervelli’s status as the occasional starting catcher. If Cervelli starts any of the games while Jorge is the DH, the Yankees need to be able to pinch hit for Frankie without losing the DH. The only way to do so is to carry a third catcher, so Moeller makes the team. However, if Lance Berkman has a strong September, you might see him DH in the games that Cervelli starts, in which case Moeller is superfluous and a pinch runner such as Greg Golson would take the final position player slot.

The last two bullpen spots are wide open, with Aceves the most likely among those who I have excluded to work his way onto the roster. However, with the uncertain nature of his recovery, I am loathe to include him at this point. I like Nova as the long man, because he has the sort of stuff that allows Joe Girardi to use him as a short reliever as well, if necessary. Finally, we know how much Joe loves matchups, so if Marte is healthy and is even slightly effective in September, he has a great shot of making the team.

What would your roster look like?

0 thoughts on “Predicting The Playoff Roster, Take 1

  1. Matt

    I would be surprised if both Vasquez and Burnett are not on the roster.

    Whatever the question, the answer is money.

    • Joe O

      AJ will definitely be on the roster (and prob starting) since he is paid a lot and locked up for several more years. Vasquez on the other hand is not a lock since he is out the door after this year anyways. While leaving him off just magnifies the blunder in getting him (granted Melky had a terrible year) there is no reason to double down on a mistake. Of course health is an issue down the strech and who knows what will happen with Andy so it is really up in the air with the starters.

  2. eddieperez23

    If Marte recovers I think you hit the the 25 man exactly right. As the commenters above noted, AJ has 3 more years at big $$ and Javy’s a FA, so if it close AJ will get the nod. Nova with his power stuff makes more sense out of the pen (then Vazquez) and still is in play for the 4th spot in the rotation.

  3. LeftyLarry

    Forget Marte, his shoulder still hurts.Never rule out Sergio Mitre.He’s Joe Girardi’s illigitimate son.

  4. bg90027

    Wouldn’t Chad Moeller have to be on the roster by September 1st to be considered barring an injury? I’d move AJ up to lock and substitute Vasquez for Moeller. They don’t need a third catcher. If they were to pinch hit for Cervelli, it would be late in the game and they could lose the DH and pinch hit for the pitcher or do a double switch to move the pitcher down in the order.

    • Moshe Mandel

      Say cervelli comes up with the bases loaded and two outs in the 6th, down 2 runs. I want to be able to pinch hit for him there.

      • Joe O

        I recall last year Joe took a third catcher for only 1 or 2 of the playoff rounds but not all three (I could be wrong but that’s my memory).

        As for pinchhitting in the 6th, I remember this situation coming up in the NL park in the WS in the 6th inning and Joe pinch hit Posada for Cervelli but there was no DH issue. I guess as someone pointed out above if Posada is not DH’ing on the day(s) Cervelli starts its not really an issue. So maybe it comes down to Joe’s plan for the DH if/when Cervelli catches which may hinge on (a) Posada’s health, (b) AJ starting and/or (c) How Berkman and other potential DH’s are hitting.

        In any event, if we can get through most of the season without 3 catchers I think we can get through 7 game series without it. Besides Cervelli is heating up ;)

      • bg90027

        I would too and then I’d pinch hit someone else for the pitcher when he comes to bat. If you have a scenario where Cervelli and Posada are both in the starting lineup then Berkman, Kearns, and Thames are all available to pinch hit. How many times would the pitcher’s spot come up? Probably only once after the 6th. I don’t see the need for the third catcher.

      • bornwithpinstripes

        yes, montero, if texas first round i would like to have a real big RH bat to pinch hit. wilson lee.. minny went a got fuentes for the yank lefties…we can send up bam bam..

      • Reech

        Based on my understanding of the rules, isn’t it basically impossible for there to be three catchers on the post season roster? Cervelli and Posada are the only ones on the 25 or 40 man rosters so barring a roster move before the calendar rolls into September the only way Moeller can be on the playoff roster is because of an injury to the other two.

        I think Mitre is in the conversation as the long guy, especially if Marte doesn’t get healthy. The only thing Girardi loves more then having two lefties in the pen is Sergio Mitre.

        Nova either makes a huge jump into the starting rotation or is left out in my opinion.

      • tm

        why ?cirvelli has been great in those situations-down 2 all you need is single.

        • Moshe Mandel

          Cervelli hasnt been good in any situation since early May. He’s been atrocious.

  5. oldpep

    If Berkman is healthy, they don’t need Jorge to DH.

    I’d be surprised if we saw Marte before February. I wouldn’t be surprised with his spot taken by a position player-possibly Nunez or the obligatory* pinch running specialist. (I was sorely tempted to put ‘obligatory Hendrix perm’ in there and put PR after it.)

  6. [...] — There you have it. I’ll post an updated version when late September rolls around, but until then you can feast on this. And if you’re really hungry, take a look at another perspective from a fellow Yankees blogger. [...]