Next up in the Pinch Hitters series is Marcus Zappia, a middle school teacher who’s been coaching high school baseball for nearly 20 years. He’s a self described “happily married father of a remarkable three-year old daughter from Endicott, New York.”
Another self description: “I probably can be counted among the prospect huggers,” Marcus wrote. “I understand that a prospect is just a prospect, and the attrition rate is ridiculous, but I started following the minors and the draft in the early ’90′s, and that spoiled me. When the Yankees drafted Derek Jeter, I watched him progress at each level, albeit quickly, and now you look up and he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. It’s that hope that there is another Jeter or Posada (who I saw play second base at Oneonta) or Andy Pettitte that makes it fun.”
For his post, Marcus took his prospect knowledge into the future.
It is Opening Day of 2016. In response to all that Major League Baseball has done to minimize the New York Yankees – and as a result of ownership’s desire to control costs in an ever-increasing fashion — the team has foregone the practice of acquiring players from outside the organization. They are fielding a team of players entirely from their current farm system, as well as guys who are playing out long-term contracts or are under team control.
Each player who reached free agency after the 2013 season and beyond was allowed to leave. That means Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Dave Robertson, and Robinson Cano – among others — are all gone.
Here is what the Yankees would send north, with Opening Day ages in parentheses.
C - Gary Sanchez (23)
C - J.R. Murphy (24)
1B - Mark Teixeira (36 shortly after Opening Day)
2B - David Adams (29)
SS - Cito Culver (23)
3B - Dante Bichette (23)
INF - Corban Joseph (27)
INF - Eduardo Nunez (29)
LF - Slade Heathcott (25)
CF - Mason Williams (24)
RF - Tyler Austin (24)
OF - Abe Almonte (26)
OF - Ramon Flores (24)
SP – CC Sabathia (35)
SP - Michael Pineda (27)
SP - Manny Banuelos (25)
SP - David Phelps (29)
SP - Brett Marshall (26)
RP - Mark Montgomery (25)
RP - Corey Black (24)
RP - Nick Goody (24)
RP - Jose Ramirez (26)
RP - Branden Pinder (27)
RP - Nik Turley (26)
RP - Francisco Rondon (28 shortly after Opening Day)
A-Rod still has two years on his contract, but he has been either bought out or put on the 60-day DL at this point. If he is still in the organization, A-Rod, CC, and Tex combine to make $67.5 million in 2016.
By next January, Zoilo Almonte, Tommy Kahnle, and Austin Romine could make it so they need to be included in future lists like this.
This team has some speed and some pop, just not what we’re used to. The lineup has four right-handers, two lefties, and two switch-hitters. The outfield can really defend, and the corners can throw. Murphy develops a year ahead of Sanchez, but Sanchez hits enough to get to the Majors, and Murphy catches 60 games as a heady backup that can swing the bat.
Culver is brought to the Majors to play defense and hit competently in the nine hole. Flores can play first when Teixeira is the designated hitter, which is about 50 times. Joseph can play second and third, and Nunez still backs up at short, DH’s against lefties, and runs. Almonte is a great team guy who can play three outfield positions and run. The bench has two lefty bats, a righty, and a switch hitter.
The rotation has two lefties and three righties. Turley is the long man in the bullpen who can spot start and is left-handed. Montgomery closes. Ramirez, Pinder, and especially Black can fire it, and Goody is good for the sixth or seventh. When Rondon knows where it’s going, he is not fun to face if you are a left-handed hitter.
Younger? Check. More athletic? Check. Better? Well … here’s the thing. Wouldn’t a lot of fans really like watching this team? Wouldn’t they be very easy to root for?
What’s also exciting is that there could be a stacked AAA team competing and pushing the Major League team. With Peter O’Brien, Greg Bird, Anderson Feliz, Angelo Gumbs, Ravel Santana, Claudio Custodio, Miguel Andujar, and Jake Cave in the lineup and Jose Campos, Ty Hensley, Rafael DePaula, Bryan Mitchell, and Giovanny Gallegos on the pitching staff, there will be a lot of talent on the cusp. Factor in what could also be a loaded Trenton staff at the time and a bunch of potential number one picks in 2013 and 2014, and this could be a great system very soon.
This roster assumes two things you can never assume — health and steady development — but since it’s just for fun, let the message board trashing begin!
Associated Press photos of Banuelos and Murphy