(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)
The Yankees aren’t going to be participating in the postseason this year. It’s only the second time we’ve been able to say that since 1994, and with the type of baseball we watched them play for the majority of the season it’s probably for the best that they’re on the outside looking in. I’ve gotten so used to doing the end-of-year debate about the playoff roster that it’s strange to not have to think about that this year. Chances are the Yankees wouldn’t get very far in the playoffs regardless of what 25 guys they took, but trying to predict the playoff roster is usually one of the more fun exercises of the year. In the interest of trying to have a little fun, here’s what my hypothetical 25-man playoff roster would look like.
* Obviously this lineup would hinge on whether or not Gardner’s oblique had healed enough to play. Seeing as how he was testing it out and running before games at the end of the regular season, I think it’s safe to assume Gardner would have given it a go and that Joe would have had no problem letting him do so given his backup outfield options. If Gardner was healthy and A-Rod had enough left in his legs to at least be a presence in the 2-spot, that’s not a horrible lineup. If 2 or 3 guys are hot, that’s a lineup that can at least be competitive, even if Nunez as the everyday shortstop is a major downgrade from the postseason-ineligible Brendan Ryan.
You could make the case that Pettitte and Nova are most deserving of getting the first 2 starts, but Joe likes to lean on his veterans and I think he would feel more comfortable with Andy pitching a must-win Game 2 if the team lost Game 1 and Nova pitching Game 3 in any scenario over Kuroda. The safest place for Hirok right now is Game 1, and even though CC on a bad hamstring in another potential elimination game isn’t ideal, there’s no way Phil Hughes or David Huff is getting the ball over him. Sad that the team’s former ace would be reduced to the last man in the postseason rotation, but that’s how it would work out if I had my say.
Pretty standard first 4 guys, even though all 4 of them looked like they were out of gas or close to it at the end of the regular season. Phelps is a much more reliable middle inning option at this point than Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, both of whom would be watching the playoffs from the dugout with hoodies on. Preston Claiborne looked like he had hit the wall in September too, and Betances and Cabral are too risky for high-leverage innings, so Warren and Huff get the lost spots to provide long relief options for extra innings or blowouts.
Austin Romine would have been the pick for backup catcher, but his lingering concussion symptoms nix him from consideration. Ichiro has no business on this roster, nor does Zoilo if we’re being honest with each other. But they’re at least better than Vernon Wells. who I wouldn’t even allow in the clubhouse before games let alone on the lineup card as a potential player option. With Ryan out of the picture and every other middle infielder hurt, Adams becomes the UTIL man. Hafner gets the last spot as a late-game pinch hitting option for A-Rod at DH or Stewart if the matchup was favorable. He’s pretty much a lost cause at this stage of the season too, but I’d still trust him to take a walk more than I’d trust Wells to do anything.
So there’s my 25-man playoff roster. Does that team even win a game in the ALDS? Probably not. They’d be hard pressed to hold up in the 1-game Wild Card playoff let alone a 5 or 7-game series, par for the course for this year’s edition of the Yankees. Looking at that roster, it’s almost a relief that they didn’t make it.