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Unsolicited suggestions for the Yankees' postseason - and we'll have a contest today
So the Yankees made it, ending their playoff drought at one year, and while they're not perfect, they are obviously a very strong playoff entry. They've got weapons all over the place, including the flawed starting rotation.
The Yankees got here without our help, but in the spirit of the yakosphere (trademark Neil Best), I'm going to offer my helpful hints, anyway:
1. Assuming the Yankees hold onto the top AL playoff seed, which appears extremely likely at this point, and they elect for the AL Division Series which features a day off between Games 1 and 2 - even more likely - here's my suggested playoff roster:
Catchers (2): Jose Molina, Jorge Posada
Infielders (6): Robinson Cano, Jerry Hairston Jr., Derek Jeter, Ramiro Pena, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira
Outfielders (6): Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon, Brett Gardner, Freddy Guzman, Eric Hinske, Nick Swisher
Designated Hitter (1): Hideki Matsui
Pitchers (10): Alfredo Aceves, A.J. Burnett, Phil Coke, Chad Gaudin, Phil Hughes, Damaso Marte, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, CC Sabathia
That's right, no Joba Chamberlain, whose role remains uncertain, Joe Girardi said. But I'm flexible on this. If Chamberlain looks better in his next two starts, then throw him in there as a long reliever, at the expense of either Marte or Pena. Or, if Robertson can't make it back, I'd take Joba over anyone else
But if the young right-hander struggles as much as he did Sunday, and if Robertson proves his good health? Then I'd send him to Tampa for the first round and put him to work with Yankees roving pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras, getting him ready to start Game 4 of the AL Championship Series.
2. Start Brett Gardner in centerfield. My buddy Brendan the Yankees fan suggested this to me yesterday, and really, it makes a great deal of sense. Gardner gets on base more than Cabrera does, and he plays a better centerfield, according to UZR (and according to Joe Girardi, who uses Cabrera in rightfield and Gardner in centerfield to protect late-inning leads).
As a bonus, Cabrera at least appears to be comfortable as a substitute, if you check the admittedly tiny sample size.
3. Start Andy Pettitte in Game 2 and A.J. Burnett in Game 3. This is a tough call, especially in light of Pettitte's recent shoulder fatigue. But going with Pettitte is a nod to his superior season, and it's partly a touchy-feely call. If Justin Verlander beats CC Sabathia in Game 1, putting the Yankees in a situation where they need to win Game 2 at home just to secure a tie, I'd rather have Pettitte than Burnett in that spot.
Anything I'm missing?
--In monitoring the grave site that is Citi Field, Anthony Rieber wrote about Daniel Murphy. I think the only way the Mets can justify guaranteeing even partial work to Murphy is if they follow whynot's suggestion and sign Matt Holliday to play leftfield. It can't be understated what a dreadful season Murphy has put together, in his first shot at the big leagues. His offense, at the first-base slot, is simply unacceptable.
The Mets will fire Ramon Pena in the front office (scroll down, on Buster Olney's blog), and that's good news for Mets fans. More by force than by choice, Omar Minaya has now jettisoned two of his most controversial hires, Pena and Tony Bernazard. Neither was good at his job, and neither had any respect whatsoever throughout the game. Minaya desperately needs to run a tighter operation, in which people prioritize doing their assigned jobs over acting important and sucking up to superiors.
--Nice column by Jim Baumbach on the Islanders' visit to Kansas City. No, it's not a baseball column, but there is an entertaining mention of the big deal in KC last night being the Red Sox-Royals game. Of course, what America really wants to know is, did Islander505 venture East to attend the game?
--New Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Saturday at Yankee Stadium, and it would be awfully fitting if Bud Selig served as the catcher, as penance for allowing replacement players to take the field in 1995 spring training. Sotomayor's actions, of course, stopped the replacement players before they played in an official game.
--It'll be a busy day here on the blog. Check back in for the Midweek Insider, and then, as promised above, we'll have Day 1 of a two-day, book giveaway contest.
--Thanks to Getty Images for the photo.