Restoring the rosters: No. 5 – New York Yankees

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
No. 13 – Cleveland
No. 12 – Minnesota
No. 11 – Arizona
No. 10 – Los Angeles (AL)
No. 9 – Toronto
No. 8 – Boston
No. 7 – Colorado
No. 6 – Montreal/Washington
Things couldn’t have gone any differently for the franchises over the last 15 years, but in these rankings, the Yankees follow the Nationals and come in at No. 5.
Andy Pettitte
Joba Chamberlain
Phil Hughes
Chien-Ming Wang
Jose Contreras
Mariano Rivera
Russ Springer
Phil Coke
Tyler Clippard
Manny Acosta
David Robertson
Jeff Karstens
The staff definitely lacks depth, but there’s a reliable veteran to top the rotation, three very good arms behind him and then the greatest closer ever to finish it all off.
Of course, I am giving Chamberlain, Hughes and Wang quite a bit of credit here. Chamberlain and Hughes still haven’t proven much at all as starters, and Wang hasn’t resembled a major league pitcher since the first half of 2008. I’m pretty much rating them all as No. 3 starters for my purposes. Perhaps it’s a bit of reach, but the talent is obviously there for the youngsters to go beyond that and Wang may yet get back to that level.
If he doesn’t, well, there’s always Kei Igawa.
SS Derek Jeter
1B Nick Johnson
C Jorge Posada
DH Hideki Matsui
LF Alfonso Soriano
2B Robinson Cano
RF Juan Rivera
3B Mike Lowell
CF Melky Cabrera
INF Cristian Guzman
OF Brett Gardner
OF Marcus Thames
C Dioner Navarro
Now that’s a whole lot better. It’s still not quite as potent as the current Yankee lineup, but it ranks right up there with the top lineups in these rankings. There are plenty of lineup options with such a group, but I’ve chosen to concentrate the OBP at the top of the order and the run producers at the bottom. Soriano is the wild card. Fifth would seem to be the right spot for him if he rebounded to his 2008 performance. With the way he’s played this year, he belongs in the eighth or ninth spot.
The Yankees’ lofty rating could be considered a testament to an organization that has had one top-20 draft pick since 1993 (C.J. Henry, No. 17 in 2005), but there’s also a lot that needs to be owed to luck. The 39-year-old Rivera, the 35-year-old Jeter and the 38-year-old Posada are freaks. They’re as good or better now than they were 10 years ago, and that simply wasn’t supposed to happen. With Lowell, Matsui and even Springer also playing key roles, the Yankees are getting more value here from old players than any other team.
In this case, that’s enough to overcome the team’s late-90s, early-2000s dry spell as far as producing talent, particularly through the draft. Recent years have seen the farm system become more productive, and the team currently boasts one of the game’s very best prospects in Jesus Montero.

Clayton Kershaw can win in the postseason! Who knew?

Clayton Kershaw
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Sometime after their Game 2 loss to the Rangers last week, the Blue Jays decided they trusted Marcus Stroman more than Cy Young candidate David Price in a potential Game 5 start. Such is the power of a postseason slump.

It can lead to one of the best hitters in the world being dropped to the eighth spot in the lineup. It can lead to quality regulars sitting at highly irregular times. In the postseason, what you did yesterday matters 10 times as much as what you did last month, usually not for the better.

Fortunately, Clayton Kershaw never had to worry about being skipped because of his postseason struggles. Even calling them struggles overstate the reality. In his previous three postseason starts, Kershaw had:

  • Allowed two runs over six innings in Game 1 of the 2014 NLDS against the Cardinals before being left in to give up a whopping six runs in the seventh
  • Pitched six scoreless innings on three days’ rest in Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS before giving up a three-run homer in the seventh
  • Allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings in Game 1 against the Mets before his two inherited runners came around to score off the pen
So, yes, Kershaw entered Tuesday’s outing against the Mets with a 4.99 postseason ERA, but he had turned in six quality starts in nine tries, allowing one earned run or fewer three times. It wasn’t nearly regular-season Kershaw, but it also wasn’t as bad as the ERA suggests, not when he’d been the victim of slow hooks and lousy bullpen support.

And, really, Tuesday’s win over the Mets didn’t seem much different at all than Kershaw previous couple of postseason starts, at least through six innings. Maybe the fastball was amped a bit. The real difference this time was that he made it through the seventh. Best of all, since he was on three days’ rest, Don Mattingly wasn’t tempted to send him back out for the eighth at 94 pitches, as he probably would have done had Kershaw been on normal rest. The bullpen took over and turned in two hitless innings in the 3-1 win, sending the NLDS back to Los Angeles for a decisive Game 5 on Thursday.

It’s completely unnecessary redemption for Kershaw, who had nothing in need of redeeming. But it’ll keep the trolls quiet for now and also all winter if Kershaw doesn’t get the chance to pitch again. He’d surely prefer to risk the chance of failure again next week in the NLCS.

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers top Mets in Game 4 of NLDS to force a Game 5

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

There will be a decisive NLDS Game 5 on Thursday evening in Los Angeles.

Clayton Kershaw yielded just three hits and struck out eight batters over seven innings of one-run ball and Justin Turner hit his fourth double of the series — a two-run poke down the left field line in the top of the third inning — as the Dodgers defeated the Mets 3-1 in Game 4 of the National League Division Series on Tuesday night at Citi Field.

Kershaw’s past postseason demons peaked their head out when Yoenis Cespedes reached on an infield single to lead off the bottom of the seventh, but there was no Matt Adams or Matt Carpenter to make him pay this time around. Kershaw retired the next three batters in order and then gave way to reliever Chris Hatcher for the eighth inning having thrown 94 pitches on short rest.

The only run Kershaw allowed was on a Daniel Murphy solo shot in the fourth inning. The other two hits he surrendered were singles.

Los Angeles’ bullpen answered the call after Kershaw’s departure, with Hatcher and closer Kenley Jansen combining to post two big zeroes on the scoreboard in Queens. Jansen secured the final four outs, earning his fifth career postseason save and second this October.

Jacob deGrom is lined up for the Mets and Zack Greinke will be on the hill for Los Angeles in the loser-goes-home tilt Thursday at Dodger Stadium. This series is shaping up to be a classic.

The winner Thursday will face the Cubs in the National League Championship Series.

Video: Justin Turner gives Dodgers early Game 4 lead with two-run double

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
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Clayton Kershaw has looked sharp on the mound and at the plate so far in this must-win NLDS Game 4 at New York’s Citi Field.

After no-hitting the Mets in the first two frames, Kershaw smacked a one-out single to left-center field in the top of third inning. Howie Kendrick followed soon after with a two-out single to left and then Adrian Gonzalez blooped a ball to shallow center that drove in Enrique Hernandez, who had reached earlier on a fielder’s choice grounder to second base.

That all set up this Justin Turner two-run double down the left field line that put Los Angeles up 3-0

That’s now four doubles this postseason for Turner, which is a Dodgers franchise record for the Division Series. Los Angeles is trying to force a Game 5.