The New York Yankees open American League Division Series play Sunday against the winner of Friday's Baltimore Orioles-Texas Rangers wild-card playoff game. That gives manager Joe Girardi a couple of days to ponder how to set his 25-man roster for the opening round of the playoffs.
Girardi will need the time. He has a boatload of difficult decisions to make.
- Does he include speedster Brett Gardner, just back from elbow surgery, on the team as a possible pinch-runner and defensive replacement?
- How does he construct the bullpen? There are probably 14 pitchers who have a claim to spot on the ALDS roster. There will likely only be 10 or 11 pitchers kept, though.
- Who is the backup middle infielder? Veteran Jayson Nix is hurt and young Eduardo Nunez can't field.
- Does he include Andruw Jones, buried on the bench down the stretch, after a season that saw the veteran outfielder hit only .197?
Here is SB Nation New York's guess at the post-season roster.
Starters (4) -- CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes.
Relievers (7) -- Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain, Clay Rapada, Cody Eppley, David Phelps.
Valentine's View: Rookie David Phelps (4-4, 3.34 ERA) has to be kept. He has succeeded as both a starter and reliever this season, and the Yankees showed what they think of him by starting him in the second-to-last game of the season instead of Ivan Nova. The toughest guy to leave off the roster? Veteran Derek Lowe, who was effective in 17 relief appearances after the Yankees picked him up, going 1-1 with 3.04 ERA. Nova and Freddy Garcia? Not tough to leave them off, either. Phelps is a much better relief option than either of them, and neither of them belongs in the starting rotation. If they ain't startin,' they ain't departin.' And those guys aren't starting.
Russell Martin, Chris Stewart.
Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix.
Valentine's View: Nix has a strained left hip flexor. He will make the roster unless he absolutely can't play. In that case the Yankees will carry Nunez -- and pray that they never have to put him in the field.
Ichiro Suzuki, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Raul Ibanez, Brett Gardner, Andruw Jones.
Valentine's View: Speed and defense can play such a vital role in playoff baseball that there really is no reason not to include Gardner on the post-season roster. Remember Dave Roberts, Yankees' fans? One stolen base, or one defensive play, can make all the difference in the postseason. As for Jones, who else would you carry? Maybe Casey McGehee as a right-handed bat? Might as well stick with Jones.
Thoughts, Yankees' fans? What changes would you make?