Late last week, Mike Axisa over at River Ave. Blues did a mailbag blog post that included an answer to this question: What do you think the playoff roster might/should look like? Obviously it’s a moot point, but tonight is the American League wild card game, and a look at the 25 players who might have stepped into that game for the Yankees is fairly staggering. It gives a real sense of the state of the Yankees at the end of the year. I mostly agree with all of Mike’s choices. Here are mine.
Chris Stewart, J.R. Murphy
With Austin Romine battling concussion symptoms, it seems the Yankees would have opened the postseason with catchers who opened the season as a big league backup and a Double-A starter.
Lyle Overbay, Robinson Cano, Mark Reynolds, Eduardo Nunez, David Adams
Brendan Ryan wasn’t postseason eligible, which means Nunez would have been the everyday shortstop, and it’s hard to consider Alex Rodriguez an infielder given all of his lower-body issues, which means Mark Reynolds would have been the everyday third baseman. Adams, with fewer than a dozen big league at-bats since the end of July would have been the only choice for a utility man (unless the Yankees could have DFA’d someone to re-activate someone like Brent Lillibridge or Alberto Gonzalez).
Curtis Granderson, Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki, Vernon Wells, Zoilo Almonte
In the final home game of the year, Almonte made his first big league start in two and a half months. But he makes the roster due to lack of alternatives. In games Ichiro would have started, Almonte would have been the team’s best pinch runner and arguably their best left-handed pinch hitter.
Could make a case for Travis Hafner, presumably as more of a pinch hitter than legitimate starting DH option. I had him on the list for a while, but ultimately decided to carry an extra pitcher. Either way, the roster options begin growing thin very quickly.
Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Ivan Nova
If CC Sabathia had only a Grade 1 strain, maybe he could have convinced the Yankees to keep him active for the postseason. With a Grade 2, though? The Yankees best bet might have been rolling the dice with a three-man rotation and hoping that at least Nova would be able to pitch on short rest. If not a three-game rotation, I guess the Hughes/Huff tandem would be the fourth starter.
Mariano Rivera, Dave Robertson, Shawn Kelley, Boone Logan, Adam Warren, David Huff, Phil Hughes, David Phelps, Cesar Cabral
Those last two or three spots are up for plenty of debate. Phelps hasn’t pitched nearly enough down the stretch to feel confident about him, the Hughes problems go without saying, and Cabral has very limited Major League experience, but the most logical alternatives are Joba Chamberlain (again, problems go without saying), Preston Claiborne (brutal in the final month), and Matt Daley (pitched well, but only in extreme low-leverage situations). Seems nearly impossible to think Dellin Betances, Brett Marshall or Mike Zagurski would have gotten real postseason consideration. Could scratch one of these pitchers in favor of Hafner. Isn’t it amazing that postseason roster construction might have come down to questions like Cabral or Hafner?
Associated Press photos