The Off-Season: Building My Team
by Tim Kabel
October 24, 2021
As I sit here, preparing to write on this beautiful fall day, it occurs to me that the offseason, which will be longer than we expected this year, is just beginning. There is a lot of time before spring training starts. There will be rumors, coaching staff hires, and roster moves. I spent a great deal of time yesterday discussing the rehiring of Aaron Boone. I was opposed to it, and I still am. However, it is a done deal. It would be comparable to having your son or daughter marry someone who is not exactly your cup of tea. You could either become bitter about it and complain ceaselessly or you could accept it and make the best of it. You could sit down at the table with your son-in-law or daughter-in-law and enjoy a nice meal of roasted chicken and macaroni salad. That is the better way to go. I put forth my theories about what the Yankees will need to do to cover the deficits of Boone. We will now see what they do. Although I do not see Boone as a boon, there are many worse choices. For example, A-Rod could have decided he wanted to be the manager. So, I will make peace with the rehiring of Boone and move on to other topics. Pass the macaroni salad please, Aaron.
I was recently thinking about all the wonderful players I have seen wear the pinstripes in my almost 50 years of being a fan. I discussed this with my friend Roger, who pointed out that he has been watching baseball since the Johnson administration. That is the Andrew Johnson administration, for those of you keeping score at home. The mere mention of Wee Willie Keeler brings a tear of nostalgia to Roger’s eye.
I decided it would be a fun exercise to construct a team of Yankees’ players I have actually seen play. That means I can’t have Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, or Babe Ruth on the team. I would like to establish a few ground rules. First, I am not naming the best players I have ever seen at each position. Rather, I am constructing the best team from the players who are available. This might explain some exclusions. Second, the point of this exercise is to imagine all these players together at the peaks of their careers. Third, I will use the current roster number of 26. I will also choose one player just for the fun of it. Here we go:
Catcher: Thurman Munson
First baseman: Don Mattingly
Second baseman: Willie Randolph
Third baseman: Wade Boggs
Shortstop: Derek Jeter
Left fielder: Rickey Henderson
Center fielder: Bernie Williams
Right fielder: Aaron Judge
Designated hitter: Giancarlo Stanton
Nestor Cortes. Jr.
Manager: Joe Torre
I know I left a lot of people off this team. Some were deliberate but others were unavoidable.
I wanted to put Dave Winfield, Graig Nettles, Tommy John, Luis Tiant, and Gerrit Cole on the team but I couldn’t find room. I was originally going to have Graig Nettles play third but although Nettles was superior defensively, the thought of Boggs sandwiched between Rickey Henderson and Thurman Munson was too much to resist. I batted Jeter ninth to create a double leadoff position. I chose Aaron Judge over Reggie Jackson for several reasons, most notably, Judge’s superior defense. I deliberately excluded Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano. I went with Willie Randolph’s consistency, solid defense, and hustle over Cano’s somewhat lackadaisical and inconsistent effort. A-Rod’s, propensity toward drama and desire to be the constant center of attention were enough for me to choose Boggs over him.
The bullpen would be amazing. I contemplated Steve Farr, Ramiro Mendoza, and Mike Stanton but, ultimately went with the group above. Nestor Cortes, Jr. was my “just for the fun of it” choice. I think he would fit in very nicely with that group. If they needed a spot starter either he or Tidrow could fill that role. With that starting rotation, the bullpen might not get a lot of work. I selected Joe Torre over Billy Martin as the manager due to Torre’s stability as well as all Billy’s issues.
What I took away from this exercise was that I have been very fortunate to see some truly remarkable players wear the Yankees’ uniform over the years. How would your team compare to the one I drew up? It would be a fun discussion to have.