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The Tuesday Discussion: Who, From The Past, Would You Put on the 2021 Yankees?

September 14, 2021

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We decided to have some fun this week to ask our writers a unique question with a special twist:

If you could go back in time and pick one Yankees non-Hall-of-Famer to immediately be part of this team, who would you choose and why?

Here are their responses:

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Mike Whiteman – Bernie Williams would look awfully good in center field and batting cleanup for the 2021 Yankees.

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Cary Greene – If I could go back in time and pick one Yankees non-Hall-of-Famer to immediately be part of the team I would have to address the greatest area of team need presently. The impact of the player I would select would need to help the Yankees with what they need most, which is to become more consistent. Therefore, I’d have to immediately insert 1978 Ron Guidry into the Yankees starting rotation.

Guidry recorded one of the most dominant seasons ever seen in 1978, his 28-3 record over 273.2 innings and his 1.74 ERA produced 9 shutouts and a .946 WHIP. Louisiana Lightning would look pretty nice slotting in behind Gerrit Cole in the Yankee rotation to help stabilize a team that has lost 12 of its last 16 games and has seen its chances to make the playoffs plummet to 50.4%.

*** Lincoln Mitchell – (I am going to make an unpopular answer that may be cheating so I have a second choice as well.)

The Yankees would be a much better team with Alex Rodriguez. I realize A-Rod is a bit controversial and not exactly beloved, but the early Yankees version of A-Rod when he could still play short, would be a huge upgrade to this team. An MVP caliber bat with strong defense at short would turn one of the team’s many weaknesses into a major strength. However, I realize that some may say A-Rod is still on the ballot so is not a fair answer to this question or that he was never really a shortstop with the team so my plan would not work. With that in mind, my second choice would be Ron Guidry. Peak Ron Guidry would be huge weapon for the Yankees in the post-season. Unlike a lot of players he has a record of winning one game playoffs and for a few years was the best pitcher in the game. Guidry-Cole would be a 1-2 punch that could keep the Yankees playing deep into October.

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Chris O’Connor – I am going to limit my answer to the players that I have seen in my life, but even with that limitation, this is tough. I anticipate CC Sabathia making the Hall of Fame, and I considered guys like Andy Pettitte and Masahiro Tanaka. I would say A-Rod, who was one of the best shortstops in the game in his prime and would immediately slide in there on this team. This Yankees team is starved for up-the-middle production with the disappointing seasons from DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres. But A-Rod is not in the Hall of Fame for non-performance reasons, so I will leave him out. The same goes for Robby Cano, who would have been my next choice.

Instead, I will go with Didi Gregorius circa 2017-2018. Sir Didi brings not only plus defense at shortstop, but a lefty bat with a good mix of power, speed, and contact. That is exactly what the Yankees are missing, at least from a position-player standpoint. He also brought an infectious vibe to the clubhouse that has been missing since his departure after the 2019 season. I think this Yankees team needs a shakeup, and Didi would be an immediate clubhouse leader who spreads his positive everyday in a 162 game slog of a season.

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Tamar Chalker – Jorge Posada. I’m not down as much on Gary Sanchez as some people, but I think Posada would give some consistency at an important position.

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Tim Kabel – If I could pick any non-Hall of Famer to be a part of this team, I will interpret that as not only as an actual player. Therefore, I will give my answer in two parts. I would pick Billy Martin to immediately replace Aaron Boone to manage them for the last three weeks of the season. Over the long term, I don’t know how well this group would respond to his style but, in less than a month, I think it might work. I am certain that he wouldn’t stand around chewing on his fingernails and blowing bubbles. He would be creative and confrontational. A lot of the nonsense that we see now would simply not be tolerated.

Now, as far as which player I would bring back; that’s easy. I would bring back Thurman Munson. The thought of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, or Mickey Mantle, but they were, of course Hall-of-Famers and can’t be picked. However, in this very brief time that we have, a slump could be a distinct possibility. I don’t think that Thurman Munson was immune to slumps. However, I would want him for his on-field motivational ability as well as physical talent. I honestly believe that he would grab this group and drag them by the scruff of their necks into the playoffs. Remember when he hit over .500 in the 1976 World Series? He would be an immediate and tremendous upgrade over Gary Sanchez. If you suspect that he might not have as much power, just remember that home run he hit against Doug Bird in 1978 in the playoffs that is still going. I think over the last few weeks in the season, he would be the one man I would want on the field from the past.

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Paul Semendinger – Most readers might think I’d immediately take Graig Nettles, but he wouldn’t be the guy for this assignment. The player I’d take is Thurman Munson. He would give the Yankees a legit quality bat. He’d solidify the catcher position. He’d play hard and tough and inspire the others. This team needs an on-field leader. Thurman Munson would be that guy.

Honorable Mention would be Jorge Posada who was similarly hard nosed and also would solidify the position. Posada would also add another quality left-handed bat as he was a switch-hitter.

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Ethan Semendinger – As the game of baseball has changed a lot- drastically- in the last few years, I’d be skeptical to bring back any solid old-timer. Thurman Munson would be the obvious pick for catcher to replace Gary Sanchez (but I don’t think that’s the biggest need), Graig Nettles would lock down third base (but do we really think Gio is a shortstop?), and Roger Maris would seem to fit the Home Run prominence of the current MLB (but again, outfield is not a pressing need). Instead, I think you’d need to find a modern non-HOF player to fix this team.

A-Rod is an interesting idea, but because he wasn’t a Yankee shortstop I’m also going to try to stay true to how the Yankees historically used a player. I also don’t want to say C.C. Sabathia as he is destined for the HOF in a few short years, and using a not (yet) HOF feels like cheating. But, there is an obvious answer. A modern player, no longer on any HOF ballot, who would provide this team a great presence to push and play in the postseason. The Yankees need good, reliable, and playable (a.k.a. non-injury prone) starting pitching.

Andy Pettitte. The winningest pitcher in postseason history and a guy who ranks among the best pitchers in baseball history who are not in the baseball HOF. How could you say anything but?

#BernieWilliams #RonGuidry #ThurmanMunson #GraigNettles #JorgePosada

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