Predicting an Opening Day roster on February 13 is nearly impossible. There’s no way of knowing who might be hurt (Pedro Feliciano and Francisco Cervelli), who might surprise in spring training (Bartolo Colon and Luis Ayala) and who might find themselves playing elsewhere (Sergio Mitre and Romulo Sanchez).
I tried to predict the roster right before camp opened. I’ll give myself a C+.
Here’s the actual Yankees roster that will open the season tomorrow.
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada C
Curtis Granderson CF
Russell Martin C
Going into camp, I didn’t think Joe Girardi would pull the trigger on Gardner in the leadoff spot. By the middle of the Grapefruit League schedule, that opinion changed. Behind Gardner, everything falls into place pretty easily. You can argue that Cano should be hitting third, but I like the decision to keep the heart of the order unchanged. All three are still very productive hitters. No sense moving things around based on one year.
Gustavo Molina C
Andruw Jones OF
Eric Chavez 1B/3B
Eduardo Nunez SS/2B
Pretty much impossible to guess Molina a month and a half ago — or even two weeks ago — and Jones was an obvious pick. Ultimately, I went 1-for-2 on the real decisions. It didn’t take long for Chavez to become a clear favorite. After just a few days it was obvious the Yankees were hoping he’d make the team. I had that one right. For the utility spot, I thought the Yankees would stick with Pena, but Nunez outplayed him and rightfully won the job.
The early favorites won the last two spots, and Burnett got the nod in the No. 2 spot ahead of Hughes. The only part I had wrong was the order of Nos. 4 and 5. My guess heading into spring was that the Yankees would give the veteran the fourth spot and ease the rookie in as the No. 5. Then Nova had a terrific spring and easily won the right to be the fourth starter. I’m giving myself partial credit.
Most of the bullpen was easy to predict. Ayala was a complete wild card, added to the roster only because Feliciano was hurt (and because Brian Cashman couldn’t find a better option on the trade or free agent market). Ayala had a very nice spring, which was enough to keep himself on the radar for unexpected opening. As for Colon, that’s the roster spot that could have been predicted that I never would have predicted. He absolutely deserved a spot, but I didn’t have high expectations coming into camp.