Oct
04

Position players and the ALDS roster

By

(Chris Trotman/Getty)

The new playoff system is both fun and weird. It’s fun because so many races went down to the wire but weird because the Yankees, who finished with the best overall record in the AL, still don’t know who they’re going to play in the first round. They do know it’ll be either the Orioles or Rangers, but that doesn’t help all that much. The opponent will surely impact New York’s ALDS roster decisions to some degree, but for the most part we can piece things together right now.

The Yankees have carried 11 pitchers and 14 position players on their postseason rosters these last few years, opting to shorten the pitching staff by one so they could carry a designated pinch-runner or something like that. I see no reason to think they’ll do something different this year. I mean yeah, they could probably get away with ten pitchers in the ALDS given the off-day between Games Two and Three, but I doubt they’ll go that far. Anyway, a dozen of those 14 position player spot are all but accounted for already:

C Russell Martin
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Robinson Cano
SS Derek Jeter
3B Alex Rodriguez
OF Ichiro Suzuki
OF Curtis Granderson
OF Nick Swisher
DH Raul Ibanez
C Chris Stewart
IF Eric Chavez
IF Eduardo Nunez

Nunez will make the roster as the backup infielder because of Jayson Nix‘s hip injury, and there’s a decent chance he’ll start some games at DH against left-handed pitchers. Chavez will serve as the primary left-handed bat off the bench, meaning one of the two vacant spots is likely to go to a right-handed hitter. The only two options for that role are Andruw Jones and Casey McGehee, neither of whom sounds all that appealing. Jones has been dreadful in the second half, to the point where Joe Girardi started benching him the last week or two in favor of Nunez. The team never really showed much faith in McGehee after acquiring him at the deadline, though he’s almost certainly a better offensive option than the shell of Andruw.

The other spot figures go to a speedster, and I have to think Brett Gardner is the favorite for that job over Chris Dickerson, especially now that he’s been cleared by the doctors and has no restrictions with his surgically repaired elbow. Carrying Gardner as the speedy fourth outfielder might mean that McGehee, an infielder, will get the nod over another outfielder in Jones. Then again, the Yankees could lean towards the playoff-tested veteran and take Andruw for that other open spot instead. They’ve seen what he can do in the postseason first hand, and as I said yesterday, I do think there’s some value in veteran experience.

Now that the Yankees are healthy, or at least as healthy as they’re going to get, the starting lineup is pretty much set. Girardi is unlikely to pinch-hit for any of those guys other than maybe Ibanez against a really tough lefty, so any substitutions figured to come in pinch-running spots or late-inning defensive replacements. Or injury, that’s always an unfortunate possibility as well. I’m about 99% certain that Gardner will occupy one of the final two bench spots while Jones-McGehee is more along the lines of 50-50. Either way, that guy would be the proverbial 25th man on the roster and thus unlikely to see meaningful playing time in a best-of-five series.

Categories : Bench, Offense, Playoffs

42 Comments»

  1. Eddard reboot v.1.0 says:

    Brett Gardner will be the last position player on the playoff roster. Last week, Andruw Jones took his last swing and a miss as a New York Yankee. With so many old, slow ballplayers we’ll need pinch runners. Nunie will DH vs LHP. Ibanez is too hot right now to sit so he will DH vs RHP. Gardner and Nunez will play key roles in the postseason. Speed on the bases disrupts the pitcher.

  2. Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan says:

    I hope Jones makes the roster. He really deserves it.

    • Laz says:

      Sometimes you have to look past that and see who will be the most important to winning games. Jones has really struggled in the 2nd half.

  3. Greg says:

    CC, Kuroda, Andy and Hughes start. Phelps and Lowe in long relief. Eppley and Rapada in the middle. Soriano, DRob, Joba and Logan in the back. That’s 12 pitchers, meaning 13 position players, not 14.

    • Eddard reboot v.1.0 says:

      Right. Chavy, Nunie, Stewie and Gardy will be the 4 bench players. And we don’t really need anyone else. Casey wasn’t even trusted to play regular season games so he won’t be on the roster. Jonesey has lost favor with Joe and he won’t be on the roster either.

    • vin says:

      “The Yankees have carried 11 pitchers and 14 position players on their postseason rosters these last few years, opting to shorten the pitching staff by one so they could carry a designated pinch-runner or something like that. I see no reason to think they’ll do something different this year. I mean yeah, they could probably get away with ten pitchers in the ALDS given the off-day between Games Two and Three, but I doubt they’ll go that far.”

      One of Lowe/Eppley/Rapada/Phelps will not make the cut.

      • CountryClub says:

        Phelps is a lock because he can pitch in short and/or long relief. I personally think Lowe is a lock, too, as the true long man.

        I would say Rapada would be the last guy, but he’s been ignored these past couple of weeks. But I still think they’ll go with the 2nd lefty.

        • vin says:

          I agree.

          You could also make the argument that Phelps can serve as the long man, which can enable Girardi to carry both of the matchup guys.

          That said, I think either Rapada or Eppley gets cut based on the matchup.

    • JV says:

      Think its Eppley OR Lowe, not Eppley & Lowe

    • Ross says:

      They won’t have to carry as many relievers in the postseason. With all of the days off built in, relievers can pretty much pitch every day if needed. I think Eppley would be left off because they could essentially use Phelps in his role and he would be able to face righties and lefties.

      • CountryClub says:

        There’s only 1 off day in the ALDS. And, if the forecast doesn’t change (and Balt wins tomorrow), there may not even be 1 if there’s a rain out on Sunday.

  4. vin says:

    Nix’s injury really does hinder things a bit. I’m less comfortable DHing Nunez, since he’s the only backup middle infielder. Although, I guess, if Cano or Jeter goes down with an injury (Mo forbid), the Yanks have bigger problems than losing the DH.

    Can’t wait until the pitching staff post goes up. That’s a little less clear.

  5. Jim Is Bored says:

    We wouldn’t know who we were playing if it were last year either, for what it’s worth.

  6. Jimmy McNulty says:

    Speaking of Granderson, compare his stats with Austin Jackson’s this year. I know I’m a bit surprised.

    • Sweet Dick Willie says:

      I don’t find it surprising that a talented young player can learn how to take a walk while cutting down his strikeouts.

  7. Fernando says:

    Lowe’s recent performance, his playoff experience and his ability to picth to lefties and righties give him the edge over a specialist like Eppley. Rapada is a specialist but he’s also left-handed, while Phelps can be a long man or a short man. Yep, I have to think Eppley is the odd man out.

  8. pharryn says:

    I agree with Greg (12 pitchers) for 3 reasons
    1) only 1 off day
    2) Nix is injured, and Jones/McGehee give little to no value
    3) Girardi tends to have a quicker hook in the post season, it is more possible that a 12th pitcher would get into a game than either Jones/McGehee.

    If Yankees make it to the ALCS I would expect a move back to the traditional 11 pitchers with the 2nd off day and the potential that Nix would be ready to return.

  9. With Garder and Dickerson both being lefty, and OFs, there’s no way both make it right?

    My guess would be Jones, due to the whole veteran presents thing.

  10. mick taylor says:

    i would carry nova in stead of eppley in case you need a second long man for an extra inning game or a starter gets hurt during the game

  11. JLC 776 says:

    Bobby Valentine officially fired. Didn’t see that one coming…

    • gc says:

      But he’s the greatest manager of all-time. Just ask him!

      Seriously, part of me was hoping they would give him another year because I wanted to see it get worse. But when he started throwing his “disloyal coaches” under the bus yesterday, I knew he was trying to get out of there right away. And hey, now he gets to become a broadcaster again. Yay?

      • Tcmiller30 says:

        How awkward is that?

        It’s like when Barry Melrose left espn to coach the lightning then came crawling back after failing miserably as their coach. It’s gotta be hard to be taken seriously after that. Especially for a schmuck like Bobby V

        • KeithK says:

          Barry Melrose has made a nice broadcasting career for himself even though no one takes him seriously. Why should it be different for Bobby V?

  12. BENICIO DEL TORO says:

    I think Jones will also make the post-season roster, but I don’t want him seeing any meaningful playing time whatsoever

  13. Darren says:

    I know we love figuring out who would be best for the last few spots, but I can’t recall those fringe players impacting even one playoff game in the last 15 years. I’m sure I’m missing something, but has a game been decided by the last guy in the bullpen or by the last guy on the bench? Or by the choice to take an extra postion player instead of a pitcher, or vice versa?

  14. Austin Aunelowitzky (formerly Paul VuvuZuvella) says:

    What? No Mitre?

  15. Joe F says:

    I might take Dickerson over Jones at this point. So I’d much rather McGehee. Veteran experience isn’t needed on this team.

  16. LiterallyFigurative says:

    I’d go with Gardner and Cervelli. Cervelli gives you a little more versatility and is a better athlete than mcgehee. It’s kind of splitting hairs for the 25th man, but given the choices, I’d take the emergency catcher. Plus I like the fist pump\ gritty\ lazy latino (memetastic!) quality he could bring.

  17. matthaggs says:

    Love Gardner as an everyday player but as fast as he is, he’s a terrible pinch runner. Generally speaking, pinch running is dumb. Especially when the pinch runner gets picked off, or is trying to steal a base when there’s a lineup full of hitters that deposit the ball on the other side of the fence.

    I don’t see Ichiro, Granderson or Swisher coming out of games. If Ibanez was still playing the OF regularly adding Gardner would make more sense.

    Adding Gardner to me would enable Girardi to overthink his way out of an inning, or worse, game.

    • “Generally speaking, pinch running is dumb.”

      You’re clueless.

      • matthaggs says:

        Ha. Maybe. Could be selective memory at work, but if you ran (pun intended) a list of all the times a guy like Gardner pinch ran for a good hitter, and how many times said pinch runner scored a run when the man he ran for would not have, and if you then looked at how many times the good hitter’s spot came up in the order again (and all the effects of not having him there, like the IBB to the good hitter in front of his spot), I believe you would be able to conclude that yes, pinch running is, generally speaking, dumb. Or perhaps better put, not worth it. ESPECIALLY in a lineup full of home run hitters.

    • Squints says:

      Gardner was unsuccesful in his two spots on the bases since coming back. Getting picked off and and caught stealing at 2nd. Hes rusty and not his game right now.

  18. LiterallyFigurative says:

    Nix being hurt hurts, as now you worry about dh-ing Nunez.

    I’d actually carry cervelli as the 25th man. As the last of the last, and given the lack of real need given the roster, I’d take the emergency catcher over a 6th OF (Jones) or a 7th IF (Mcgehee).

  19. LiterallyFigurative says:

    Nix being hurt hurts, as now you worry about dh-ing Nunez.

    I’d actually carry cervelli as the 25th man. As the last of the last, and given the lack of real need given the roster, I’d take the emergency catcher over a 6th OF (Jones) or a 7th IF (Mcgehee).

  20. Barbara Booey says:

    “Don’t get me wrong, it’s obviously important, but pitching is less than half the game (half is run creation, half is run prevention, and the latter is broken into pitching and defense)”

    The above is among the dumber interpretations / statements I’ve read in a while. Sheer nonsense, clearly put into Axisa’s head by something he read elsewhere. If it’s an original thought, then that’s even more frightening.

  21. theyankeewarrior says:

    I think it’s Gardner and Jones for the 24th and 25th spots. Gardner for speed and defense with the ability to hit, and Jones, if nothing else, because he’s right handed and McGhee got no love from Girardi down the stretch.

    FWIW, in his two or three plate appearances since Jones was “benched” a couple weeks ago, he has had some pretty decent swings. This time off could have helped him. Maybe he was battling something and Joe tried to stick with him. I think he could run into one in a big spot for sure.

  22. DM says:

    Cashman was on ESPN.

    Hinted at 11-man pitching staff. Reacted positively to questions about Gardner and Dickerson — but vague on Jones. But ultimately non-committal. He said they’ll meet tomorrow at 3:30pm to discuss.

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