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Projecting the Postseason Roster

The Yankees are clearly using their final 20 games to figure out who will make their 25-man roster for the ALDS. That’s why minor league journeyman speedster Freddy Guzman is on the major league roster and why relievers such as Brian Bruney are getting game opportunities that otherwise seem unearned given their overall performance.

There are still some questions that need to be answered, chief among them whether or not David Robertson will be available and effective by season’s end, but prompted by Joe Girardi’s use of Bruney and Jonathan Alabaladejo last night and Brian Cashman’s comments about Joba Chamberlain (coming up), I thought I’d weigh in on the subject.

First, here are Cashman’s comments on Joba via Pete Caldera’s blog:

He needs to declare himself. He’s no different than anyone else. Everybody loves his tenacity,but we’re going to take the best 10 guys. There’s no assumptions there. He’s put himself in a position where the manager has to make a decision that there’s not one guy ahead of him that he needs to give the ball to. He might not realize it, but he’s in competition with any number of guys to take the ball.

Also relevant to Joba’s situation is the fact that the Yankees, assuming they finish with the best record in the league, will be able to chose which of the two ALDS schedules they’ll play. One would require a normal four starters, but the other includes and extra off-day and would allow them to use just three starters in the first round. Given how Chamberlain has pitched of late, I’m guessing they’ll go with the three-starter scenario.

While I would understand the team trying to send a message to Joba by leaving him off the ALDS roster (while simultaneously allowing him to pitch simulated games to stay ready for the ALCS), I’d be surprised to see them pass up the chance to use him out of the bullpen in the ALDS.

Cashman’s quote indicates that the Yankees will bring just ten pitchers to the ALDS, which should result in something like this:


L – CC Sabathia
L – Andy Pettitte
R – A.J. Burnett


R – Mariano Rivera
R – Phil Hughes
L – Phil Coke
R – Alfredo Aceves
R – Joba Chamberlain
L – Damaso Marte
R – Chad Gaudin

Marte has allowed a run in just one of his eight appearances since returning from the DL. In those eight appearances, he hasn’t allowed any of his ten inherited runners to score, hasn’t allowed a home run, and has struck out six in 5 1/3 innings against two walks. Gaudin, whose start tonight could significantly reinforce or undermine his chances for making the postseason roster, has a 3.68 ERA as a Yankee and can be an effective long-man in case of an early exit by a starter, a deep extra-inning game, or can eat innings in a blowout.

Note that David Robertson is currently rehabbing a sore elbow and was last seen playing catch at 60 feet. If he’s able to return effectively during before the season ends, he could bounce Marte, Gaudin, or even Chamberlain from the roster.

So, if the Yankees are only taking ten pitchers, who are their 15 position players? First the starting nine:

1B – Mark Teixeira
2B – Robinson Cano
SS – Derek Jeter
3B – Alex Rodriguez
C – Jorge Posada
RF – Nick Swisher
CF – Melky Cabrera
LF – Johnny Damon
DH – Hideki Matsui

Then the top bench guys:

CF – Brett Gardner
OF – Eric Hinske
UT – Jerry Hairston Jr.
C – Jose Molina

That leaves two spots, which is where you might find a third catcher (Francisco Cervelli) a bonus speed-and-defense player (Freddy Guzman), or an extra infielder (Ramiro Peña). Given the lack of opportunities given to Shelly Duncan since his recall, I don’t think he’s being considered as a right-handed pinch-hitting option. By that same token, Guzman has only appeared in two games thus far, suggesting that he’s not being seriously considered either. It could be that one of those spots goes to a healthy Robertson, giving the Yankees 11 pitchers and an eight-man bullpen in the ALDS.

There are 11 games left on the Yankees’ regular season schedule, including tonight’s. That’s enough time for those last two bench players to make themselves known or for certain relievers to pitch themselves on or off the roster. Alabaladejo and Bruney did themselves no favors last night. We’ll see if Gaudin can do better tonight.


1 RIYank   ~  Sep 22, 2009 12:51 pm

I don't think it makes sense to take Guzman, even as the 15th position player. Peña can play that role -- I assume he can't do it quite as well, but he can do other things.
On the other hand, much as I like him, it may be a luxury to carry Cervelli in the playoffs. The only point would be to provide insurance against an injury to a catcher after the other catcher has been pinch hit or pinch run for.
I guess I'd rather see another bat, or Robertson added to make an 11-man staff.

Oh, also, I'm not so sure Chamberlain or Gaudin vs. Nate Robertson, or whomever the TIgers toss out there as their fourth starter, is so bad for the Yanks. And I'm not so sure Sabathia vs. Verlander is so great, either.

2 Paul   ~  Sep 22, 2009 12:57 pm

You've nailed it as usual, Cliff.

I'm guessing Cervelli gets on too. Then they can pinch run for Jorge and pinch hit for his replacement.

3 monkeypants   ~  Sep 22, 2009 12:59 pm

[1] Agreed. They probably don't need three catchers (unless they play the Angels, and the plan is to start Molina and PH for him in the middle of the game), and they probably aren't going to PR so much that they need Gardner and Hairston and Peña and someone else. They could use a RH PH, and that only leaves Duncan.

Might we see Miranda?

In the end, I suspect it will be 11 pitchers, including Robertson and Joba.

4 ms october   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:19 pm

[3] i don't think they need or will go with a rh ph - as far as i can tell (it's hard with these damn expanded rosters) the tigers and twins only have 1 lh relief pitcher and the angels have 2, but 1 is funtes.
moreover, the yanks lh do not struggle against lh and in fact some have reverse splits (see matsui) - shelley is nowhere near comparable to any of the lh hitters. so i just don't see who shelley would ph for.

in fact if you run out the regular lineup the only person you would think of pinch hitting for is melky.

now if molina somehow starts, if you ph for him girardi would most assuredly be worried about po being mauled by a bear, so you basically have to have cervelli because he would be loathe to ph for molina otherwise.

so all of this is to say my guess is cervelli or the 11th pitcher - it is a safety blanket that is hard for most managers not to have,

5 RIYank   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:19 pm

Hm, I forgot about that possibility -- starting Molina because of the Angels' running game.

Come to think of it, unless they do start Molina, it's hard to imagine a scenario where a PH would do a lot of good. I'm thinking of the plausible bench hitters. Which one is better than Melky at the plate?

Of course, the WS is different. But in the first round, under what circumstances do they use a PH?

6 RIYank   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:20 pm

Ah, right, [4] [5] basically the same thought.

7 Mattpat11   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:25 pm

If the Yankees decide to "send a message" to Chamberlain, it would be the perfect cap to his year. It also might be the first time they sent him some sort of clear message.

If I were Joba Chamberlain, I'd be counting the days until I was free of this organization.

8 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:27 pm

[1] If the Yankees get to play Detroit, hopefully that means the Yankees do not need a 4th starter. With Edwin Jackson pitching poorly, I'd really like to have him lined up to start game 5 at YS should it come to that.

[3] The only way the Yankees take three catchers is if they face Anaheim. Molina is like a big dog in the yard against Anaheim. He doesn't stop the running game, but he must make the Angels think twice about running wild. So, if you use Molina more, you may need to pinch hit for him, which would create a need for a 3rd catcher.

9 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:27 pm

[6] Add 8 to the mix. Nothing like group think.

10 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:28 pm

by my math, Good and Bad Burnett, plus Good and Bad Joba takes up 4 roster spots.
[ducking for cover]

11 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:29 pm

Yes, a third catcher might matter in the second round, if we're there. Cervelli has no other use, though, and if Jorge is DHing we've lost Matsui, who has been seriously steady (about the same as Jorge, actually).

Yes, I was among the Banter Group wanting a Joba/Hughes switch awhile back, seeing his innings cap looming, and yes, ship's sailed, waste of time discussing. It is even possible that there is no actual injury, only that at about 150+ innings the man's worn down. Happens. A reason for the cap.

Aceves as a 4th starter? I'm dubious he can be made effectively ready, and more dubious they'll even try. Tonight will play a role, watching what happens with Gaudin. I'm cheering for him. CC can go very effectively on 3 days rest, by the way, did it a ton (so to speak) down the stretch last year.

We seem to have written off Joba here, which is dramatic. Is it just a Tuesday afternoon mood? I think the plan (ahem) must have been to curtail him by about 15 innings with short starts, then bring him back up, to be okay for 6 innings in October.

We can guess what Siegfried of KAOS would have said.

12 The Hawk   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:32 pm

I like the idea of having another speed threat like Gardner. I know no-one's like Gardner but with some of the legs on this team, it seems like a pinch runner comes in more handy than a pinch hitter. So I guess Pena?

13 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:33 pm

[12] I don't want to give Girardi any extra reason to do something stupid. I can just see him PR for Tex and Arod in the same inning and then have those slots come up repeatedly in extra innings.

14 The Hawk   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:33 pm

[11] I've written off Joba in general. It's a relief, frankly.

15 RIYank   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:34 pm

[8.1] Ah, right, I forgot about that. The stretched-out series does mean the #2 starters have the potential to start a second time, the compressed series means they don't.
Jackson has allegedly just been informed that he's been tipping his pitches. If he fixes that and returns to form, I don't really like Burnett/Jackson so much, so I'd take the compressed series. If he still stinks (and we should get a good read tonight), then I agree that tips the balance in favor of the stretched-out series (with only three starters).

16 The Hawk   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:35 pm

[13] I thought about that, but I still like the idea, with fingers crossed.

17 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 22, 2009 1:42 pm

[14] I know what you mean. For a while, watching Joba starts were an overload. In addition to the game, I was worrying about velocity, pitch selection, whether he was getting along with Posada, his pitch count, innings count, how he behaved on the mound, etc. It was almost like going into battle. Now, I just sit back and expect him to get lit up and then talk about how well he did after the game.

18 The Hawk   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:13 pm

[17] His first act was rather brief, and I'll assume he won't have a second. It happens, but MLB history is littered with the carcasses of go-nowhere one year phenoms. As I've said before I'll take it as a nice surprise if he rebounds, but that from which he must rebound has become the rule, not the exception.

19 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:18 pm

I love Pena. He's probably the best infielder in the organization. With all due respect to Hairston, I'd use Pena to replace (God forbid) ARod, Jeter, or Cano in the postseason. He'd be a defensive upgrade over all of them, wouldn't he?

20 The Hawk   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:24 pm

[19] Yeah. The Yankess organization seems to be terrified of youth though. 2006 was a prime example.

21 Mattpat11   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:31 pm

[20] Who did they bury in 2006?

22 RIYank   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:36 pm

[19] Just going from my very flawed and no doubt selective memory, I'm not sure he's an upgrade at third. A-Rod's arm is so freaking strong. I'm sure he doesn't have the range, but the arm and the quick grabs of shots up the line might make up for it.

23 RagingTartabull   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:37 pm

[21] Melky

24 monkeypants   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:37 pm

[4][5][6] etc.

It's not just a matter of whom to pitch hit for in the starting lineup (usually only Melky/Gardy). You want to be able to PR for a starter (Matsui, Posada) and still have an extra bat off the bench for a subsequent PH.

The question in the postseason is, of course, will you use the 13th and 14th position players (BUC is 15th, and is only in case of emergency) more than the 11th or possibly 12th pitcher.

I personally would err on the side of the bench in most cases, but that's just me.

25 randym77   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:46 pm

Guzman was just called up a week or two ago. He's not eligible for the post-season roster, is he?

Though I suppose they can always claim someone was injured.

26 RIYank   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:47 pm

[25] Not sure exactly how, but I am certain he's eligible. When they called him up they were talking about taking him to the PS.

27 Shaun P.   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:50 pm

[25] [26] The loophole that let the Angels put K-Rod on the 2002 postseason roster, even though he wasn't called up until after September 1, is still wide open. They can use Nady as the way in, though I don't remember the exact mechanics.

28 Yankster   ~  Sep 22, 2009 2:56 pm

From the last post [9][10][13] make it four. Joba has repeatedly shown himself (in the bullpen in 07) and for up to three or four games in a row (20+ innings) to be able to bare down and carry a ERA of 1. A lot of people strike me as being on the same emotional roller coaster that Joba is riding while as a fan we have the opportunity to step back.

It sure seems like Joba has been maimed by well-intentioned risk-averse management trying to optimize the hell out of the limited number of innings they were willing to let him pitch. That greediness caught up to them.

Hopefully, they give him back his emotional life by clearly defining his role. When (or if knock on wood) we get into the ALCS, I look forward to the excitement of seeing a well rested Joba pitch as the fourth starter without any unusual limitations. My prediction is that he will dominate in that role as he has several times this year and as he did with extreme consistency as a reliever in 2007.

29 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 22, 2009 3:01 pm

[22] yeah, a healthy-hipped ARod is a better 3b than Pena, but the kid's definitley a defensive upgrade over Hairston. If Alex, Jeter, or Cano got hurt, neither Pena nor Hairston could replace their bats, but Pena is the better bet in the field. Hairston would be a good PH option for Pena. Bottomline, the Yanks best infield insurance would be to carry Pena and Hairston.

30 ms october   ~  Sep 22, 2009 3:15 pm

[24] if you pr for matsui - you would probably end up with hinske as the dh if that spot came up again and you probably would not ph for him unless it was a lhp, which there aren't that many on possible playoff opponents ; if you pr for po, you have moilna in that spot and you can't take him out without needing cervelli.
i just don't think shelley (who is the only one that would be a pinch hitter among the last few possibilities) will serve any purpose other than pinch hitting if hinske ends up in matsui's slot and a lhp comes up. that seems like such a low probability as to go with someone who has a better chnace of being needed - which seems to be either a rp if the pen gets used up one game or cervelli if you need to pr for po or need molina in to baby (i mean catch) one of the pitchers or control the angels running game

31 Shaun P.   ~  Sep 22, 2009 3:15 pm

This just in: baseball-reference says so far, Yankee Stadium 2.0 is a slight pitcher's park. Yes, you read that right.

32 Raf   ~  Sep 22, 2009 3:25 pm

[23] Melky was buried in 2006? Or was it a case of Matsui and Sheffield returning? Both players were/are better options than Melky

33 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 22, 2009 3:30 pm

[31] weird deal, unless they're using "slight" as an acronym for So-Long-It's-Gone-Homerun-Theater. In that case, it is indeed a SLIGHT pitcher's park.

34 rbj   ~  Sep 22, 2009 3:31 pm

I haven't written Joba off -- for next year. I do think he's been jerked around too much this year. To me, his "I pitched great" statements seem more to be about reassuring himself in the Stuart Smilely way. He hasn't helped himself by being realistic, but when the higher ups in the organization treat you with kid gloves it's hard to be realistic. At this point he's only on the PS roster for the seventh inning (Hughes has the eighth sewn up).

A third catcher sounds extravagant. Jorge's going to be doing all the catching, unless there's a blowout or Girardi absolutely needs to shut down the Angels' running game with Molina. In which case Posada is the late inning PH/C. And then you cross your fingers nothing bad happens to him.

I wouldn't mind Guzman, as having an extra set of wheels to score the tie breaking run is nice, but he would need more playing time to get ready.

I would go with the 8 man bullpen and look to end each series early. And at this point I think I'd rather see Boston than LAA in the ALCS.

35 rbj   ~  Sep 22, 2009 3:55 pm

[33] Oooh, shiny new acronym. SLIGHT. May we be using late in October when the pinstripers are at the plate.

36 The Hawk   ~  Sep 22, 2009 3:59 pm

[32] They sucked the life right out of that season with their old, injured, doddering asses.

37 RagingTartabull   ~  Sep 22, 2009 4:05 pm

[32] I'm a big believer in dancing with who brung ya.

I can't say I don't see the logic in trying to force Matsui and Sheff into the lineup during the last week of the season and heading into Detroit, but I feel like it screwed with the balance/chemistry of a team that had been doing just fine without them for the majority of the year.

Of course that was far from the only thing that went wrong in '06.

38 Rich   ~  Sep 22, 2009 4:36 pm

Why isn't Mlelancon being allowed to participate in the audition?

39 randym77   ~  Sep 22, 2009 4:44 pm

[27] I think they've changed the post-season roster rules since then. It's still possible, but it's become quite difficult, since Freddy wasn't even on the 40-man Aug. 31.

40 The Hawk   ~  Sep 22, 2009 4:46 pm

[28] I'd say I was on a bit of a rollercoaster, as Joba's ups and downs were initially informed by this idea that he was, you know, "awesome". Since deciding the evidence doesn't support that, no rollercoaster!

41 Raf   ~  Sep 22, 2009 5:17 pm

They sucked the life right out of that season with their old, injured, doddering asses.

There is no metric that you can use that shows that Melky is a better player than Matsui or Sheffield. Melky is a nice player, but there was no reason for him to be starting ahead of Sheffield, Matsui or Abreu. That would rank right up there with Enrique Wilson batting leadoff against Pedro in the 2003 ALCS.

I’m a big believer in dancing with who brung ya.

I'm a big believer in putting the best players in the lineup, as you alluded to in the rest of your entry.

I think they’ve changed the post-season roster rules since then. It’s still possible, but it’s become quite difficult, since Freddy wasn’t even on the 40-man Aug. 31.

K-Rod wasn't on the 40-man. I believe the rule is that as long as the player is in the organization, they're eligible. Neat little trick, and a shrewd move by Cashman if that's the case, given that Guzman was acquired on 8/31, the last day a player would've been eligible.

42 randym77   ~  Sep 22, 2009 5:27 pm

[41] The post-season roster rules have changed several times since K-Rod. Mostly to make things easier, but adding a player who wasn't on the 40-man has become harder. MLB wants to discourage the use of hired guns.

I believe now you have to get the commissioner's approval, and he's supposed to make sure you've exhausted all the other possibilities before allowing it.

Or maybe the rules have changed yet again.

I would feel better about losing Claggett if Guzman can help in the post-season. Though I suppose Claggett was slated to be released anyway, to make room for Ajax or someone else the Yanks needed to protect.

43 RagingTartabull   ~  Sep 22, 2009 7:11 pm

[41] I would never suggest that Melky is/was a better player than Gary Sheffield, but the best player isn't always the right player.

I know thats a hackneyed cliche, but I really think its true.

44 The Hawk   ~  Sep 22, 2009 7:46 pm

[41] "There is no metric that you can use that shows that Melky is a better player than Matsui or Sheffield."

Metric! You're kidding, right?

45 RIYank   ~  Sep 22, 2009 8:07 pm


There is no metric like a field
Of grass between two lines
Nor any VORPies like a coach
A-flashing stealing signs.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without great mental strain;
How simple is the chariot
That bears a baseball brain!

{Forgive me, ED.}

46 Raf   ~  Sep 22, 2009 10:28 pm

[44] You prefer things like mystique, aura, unicorn farts and fairy jizz?

47 RagingTartabull   ~  Sep 22, 2009 10:34 pm

[45] yes you got me.... I'm actually president of the David Eckstein fan club

48 RagingTartabull   ~  Sep 22, 2009 10:34 pm

[46] rather

49 Raf   ~  Sep 23, 2009 3:04 pm


50 Raf   ~  Sep 23, 2009 3:10 pm

Anyway, [46] wasn't a typo, it was directed @ [44] who I apparently offended by bringing up the word "metric." Perhaps he misread and thought I was referring to Mitre?

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