Weekly Mailbag: My 30-Man Roster
By Andy Singer July 17, 2020
We are getting very close to being able to write about actual baseball games, and I have to admit, I’m allowing myself to get a little excited. For all of my worry about the rising rates of infection around the country and the logistics of operating a baseball season safely in that environment, it’s a lot of fun to see ballplayers ramping up for the season. For real, who doesn’t get excited watching this:
Baseball, Corner Pocket … (113 MPH via @Giancarlo818) pic.twitter.com/Go7kFC6j80 — New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 15, 2020
Yes, baseball is almost here, and that means that one question stood above the others. With that in mind, I’m only answering one Mailbag question this week. For those of you who wrote in additional questions, thank you, and some may be used in next week’s Mailbag. I love answering questions on baseball topics that are important to you, so please, keep sending in your questions to SSTNReadermail@gmail.com. And now, let’s get at it:
Sean asks: I read your projection for how to manage the bullpen, but I want to know more about the big picture. What do you think the full roster will look like at the start of the season? How will the cuts work as the season moves along?
To me, this is the very essence of what we need to be talking about right now. The expanded rosters give the Yankees a lot of wiggle room with regards to how the roster is established and balanced. I can’t find the quote now, but I read somewhere that the Yankees expect to carry between 15-17 pitchers at the start of the season. That matches my previous expectations. So, we know that the distribution of pitchers to position players is likely to favor pitchers early in the year, but I’m going to start with an even 15-15 split.
Additionally, for the purposes of this exercise, I am going to exclude players who were reassigned yesterday. Yes, that includes the pitcher I’ve been stumping for in the Yankee bullpen, Luis Medina. I am also going to exclude Aroldis Chapman and Luis Cessa from my initial list. I don’t think that we can assume a date for their return, so I’ll make note of where both squeeze in on the eventual 28 and 26-man rosters. So, here are the guys I would carry on a 30-man roster:
C Gary Sanchez
C Kyle Higashioka
1B Mike Ford
1B Luke Voit
2B DJ LeMahieu
SS Gleyber Torres
3B Gio Urshela
3B/OF Miguel Andujar
UTIL Tyler Wade
OK, so there’s plenty to unpack here. The infield is pretty self-explanatory, and I don’t see it changing much throughout the year for any reason other than injury. I gave some thought to adding a 3rd catcher for the first couple of weeks, but I really don’t see the value in that. In a short season, there’s no need to rest Sanchez or Higgy proactively early in the year. I really wanted to find a way to squeeze Thairo Estrada into the lineup, but I think Tyler Wade gets the nod, barring injury.
In the outfield, I don’t think anyone will be surprised by the names listed. That said, this is a crowded outfield with everyone healthy, particularly when we consider that someone like Miguel Andujar might get some time in LF. I think all of the core-4 starters (Hicks, Gardner, Judge, and Stanton) will be rested liberally to keep them healthy, so there is likely enough time for a 5th outfielder, but not 6 once the rosters are cut down. Unless he shows some serious spark at the beginning of the year, I think that Clint Frazier will be one of the guys who loses his spot when the rosters get cut from 30 to 28.
The pitching staff is fascinating, and all of you know my thoughts on how to manage the pitching staff in 2020. Despite my bias, I tried to be realistic, but I also had additional spots to fill with Chapman and Cessa’s absence to start the year. Schmidt and Garcia have both gotten a lot of time pitching against the Yankee starting lineup in camp, and I think both are being groomed for some kind of role on the big league roster this year. Loaisiga falls into the same bucket, though I believe he is destined for a multi-inning relief role. I standby my thoughts regarding Abreu. He has lights-out stuff, and he could be devastating in short stints. With his injury issues, it’s time to pull the plug on letting him figure it out as a starter in the minors, and allow him to help the big club. Hale and Heller are the best of the pure reliever bunch, so they both make it as the 14th and 15th men on the Yankee pitching staff, respectively.
To get down to 28, we need to cut 4 guys, assuming that Cessa and Chapman return by then. My cuts are Frazier, Hale, Heller, and Abreu. At the 26-man cut line, I’d cut one of Garcia or Schmidt (depending on performance) and JA Happ. I know that many are expecting a bounce-back from Happ this year, but I just don’t see it. I think that one of the kids will emerge by that time, and we’ll all be clamoring for one of Schmidt or Garcia to take Happ’s spot in the rotation.
Realistically, injuries will occur (as we’ve seen), so the Yankees will likely use the shuttle squad all season long. However, this is the way that I would break it down, in a perfect world.
That’s all for this week – thanks for the great questions, and keep them coming! Don’t be shy, reach out to me at SSTNReadermail@gmail.com to send in your Mailbag questions (or just click the “Mailbag” tag on the right side of the website). See you all next week!