• Predicting The ’07 Opening Day Roster

    Posted by on February 28th, 2007 · Comments (9)

    The uniform numbers that players are assigned in Spring Training usually tell you about the chance that a player has to make the big league team. (The lower the number means the better their chances.) Let’s look at who is wearing what number down in Tampa (for the Yankees) at this moment.

    Click on the following thumbnail to enlarge the view:

    Those guys to the right (above) with uni-numbers greater than 56, well, they’re probably not making the Yankees opening day roster – barring something unexpected happening over the next 4 weeks.

    Let’s look at the group of players towards the far left of the chart.

    The players in blue are the everyday starters and the players in orange are the pitchers who should make the team without question. The players in yellow are the expected bench players. In total, the blue/orange/yellow group count out to 22 players.

    The players on the far left in rose-shading are three pitchers fighting for the last two spots on the pitching staff.

    Why can’t all three rose-pitchers make the team since there are only 22 of the 25 spots taken by blue/orange/yellow guys? The answer is simple – because one of those players in the small box above (with players in green and yellow) should make the team as well (and because there’s little reason to expect the Yankees to carry 13 pitchers to start the season).

    So, getting away from colors, it boils down to this:

    Bruney, Britton and Villone are battling to see which of the three does not make the team that comes North. Phillips and Phelps are fighting it out to see who will be the back-up 1B on the roster. And, I suppose that you could say that Pratt and Nieves have a contest, to some extent, to see who will be the back-up catcher.

    I have a feeling, knowing Torre, that Villone is going to make the team. Therefore, this assumption allows us to bring it to this level – the roster battles in camp this year are:

    Bruney vs. Britton
    Phillips vs. Phelps
    Pratt vs. Nieves

    Unless Pratt falls completely on his face, that last match-up is almost no contest – expect Pratt to be the back-up catcher.

    Given Bruney’s injury concerns in the past and this spring, plus his control issues (at times), I think the last pitching spot is Britton’s to lose.

    What about Phillips vs. Phelps? This is a tough one. The Yankees will lose whichever one does not make it – because Phillips is out of options and Phelps would have to be offered back to the O’s.

    Phelps probably offers you more stick than Phillips. However, Phillips offers you more options with the glove because he can play 2B and 3B in emergency situations as well. Unless Phelps rips the cover off the ball this spring, I can see Phillips winning this one – because of Torre “knowing the player” (like in the case of Villone) and because versatility is probably more handy than a bat from the last man on the bench. Think about it – when two outfielders go down in a game for the Yankees, now, Miggy Cairo is your second back-up OF. Therefore you need another guy on the bench who can cover you – like Phillips – at some of the non-1B infield positions (just in case).

    As a result, this is what I predict the Yankees Opening Day roster will look like:

    OD.jpg

    Is this squad much better than last year?

    The starting pitching should be a little better. And, the overall team defense should be a little better as well. But, it’s not as if the 2007 Yankees are a whole lot different than the 2006 Yankees, are they?

    Comments on Predicting The ’07 Opening Day Roster

    1. rbj
      February 28th, 2007 | 3:21 pm

      Agree about Phillips. At that point, a glove is more important (most likely you’re protecting a late lead) plus there are enough mashers on the team. If you have to rely on the last guy on the bench to provide offense, you’re in deep doo-doo.

    2. February 28th, 2007 | 3:46 pm

      Notice the Kevins. Last year, they both used No. 27 in their respective stints in the Bronx. Now it’s Thompsons. Makes me feel better about the first outfielder to be called up.

    3. Garcia
      February 28th, 2007 | 5:00 pm

      Last year’s squad was 97-65 (.599 win %), if this squad is a “little” better in starting pitching, overall team defense, then I’ll sign up for that any day.

      What did you want? A team that’ll win 114 games.

      This squad, at least to me, is much deeper than last year’s squad. Especially in pitching.

    4. February 28th, 2007 | 5:10 pm

      No question, this team, as was the team last year, is a contender. Hell, the only roster questions are for the last pitcher and the last hitter. Most teams would love to be in that position.

      It’s just that many seem to think that there were widespread improvements to the roster this year, and, that’s not true. It’s almost the same cast expect for a handful of guys.

    5. February 28th, 2007 | 5:14 pm

      Steve, was last year’s team so bad? they won 97 games, won the division by 11, and got beat by a hot Detroit team.

      this year they have Pettitte, Igawa and Pavano instead of RJ, Wright and Lidle. big difference there, not to mention the up & comers, Hughes, Sanchez, Ohlendorf, Clippard.

      and the pen should be better: Britton, Vizcaino, Bruney instead of Sturtze, Villone, Erickson.

    6. Garcia
      February 28th, 2007 | 6:45 pm

      I consider getting rid of RJ and Sheffield as being huge improvements. I consider the fact that the Yankees have so much depth in the pitching department a huge improvement. No more Sidney Ponson types….I’d rather see a young pitcher get hammered vs. a old wily veteran.

    7. Nick from Washington Heights
      February 28th, 2007 | 6:54 pm

      I haven’t seen much talk of how the Yanks have improved from last year from Yanks fans other than the discussion about having a full-year of Abreu and Matsui helping the offense to make gains. Mainly, Yanks fans are happier these days because of the continuing development of the farm.

    8. #15
      February 28th, 2007 | 8:53 pm

      Pitching has improved across the board. Starters, relievers, and minor league depth. The chances of loosing three starters and the utility infielder to long stints on the DL like last year are slim. So all things considered 100-103 wins and first place in the AL East look pretyy likely. As far as the playoffs, ask me after we see how the pitching holds up.

    9. Pete
      March 1st, 2007 | 11:31 am

      We don’t need to be *that* much better for the first 162 – we need to be better for that last 11.

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