With fourteen games to play and two games to make up in the wild card, the New York Yankees are in crisis mode. To ease the fans’ burden in this uncertain, stressful time, the good people at RM Sports have decided to reflect on what could have been for the Yankees in 2013.
Below is an alternate starting lineup for today’s game against the (likely) pennant winning Boston Red Sox. In order to qualify, each player had to have missed a majority of the Yankees games this season due to injury. In the event that no such player was available, the position was filled by a minor leaguer.
Let us pretend.
Pitcher – Vidal Nuno
The fact that Nuno is the best pitcher available speaks to how healthy the Yankees staff has been this season. That may not have helped much in Phil Hughes’ case, but we’re here to be positive, remember? Nuno pitched quite well in the three games he started, averaging a shade under six innings while giving up a combined four runs on eleven hits. At age 26, he could eventually prove to be a valuable Ramiro Mendoza type if he comes back healthy.
Catcher – Francisco Cervelli
This was supposed to be Cervelli’s break out year, but a fractured hand and a 50 game biogenesis suspension put a quick end to that fantasy. Imagine how much production the Yankees could have got out of the catcher’s spot if he had been playing over Chris Stewart. There’s always next year.
First Base – Mark Teixeira
Lyle Overbay performed admirably this season, and it’s always fun to watch Mark Reynolds unload on a fastball, but neither of them can measure up to Teixeira offensively. Hopefully the runner up in the 2009 MVP vote can return to his usually healthy self next season.
Second Base – Alex Rodriguez
I know A-Rod doesn’t play second base, but if we’re going to accommodate all the high priced talent on the Yankees’ DL, we’ll need to take a few liberties. PED’s or not, in the few games Alex Rodriguez has played this season, he has shown that at age 37 he can still be a productive bat in a major league lineup. His OBP is the highest its been in four years.
Shortstop – Derek Jeter
After what seemed to be a career renaissance in 2012, 2013 was a season to forget for Derek Jeter. People have counted him out numerous times before, and although he may never be again be a solid option from a defensive point of view, the smart money is on him returning to his hit machine ways in 2014.
Third Base – Kevin Youkilis
Admit it, you forgot the Yankees signed him this season. To date, no one has received a higher annual salary for putting ice on their back and sitting in a comfy chair. Regardless, the Yankees would have been a far better team this season had he been able to stay on the diamond. Long live the Greek God Of Walks.
Left Field – Zoilo Almonte
Zoilo was playing good baseball until he was put on the 15 day DL for an ankle sprain. The youngest player on the alternate roster by about five years, he’ll add some much needed speed to this lineup of old and exceptionally grizzled vets.
Center Field – Curtis Granderson
Granderson’s been struggling as of late, but with Gardner likely out for the rest of the year, he’ll get a shot to prove his value on the free agent market as a center fielder. With his rare combination of speed and power, expect him to be pursued by a number of teams when the season draws to a close.
Right Field – Melky Mesa
There will never be another Melky Cabrera, but this Melky is probably as close as the Yankees will get. A victim of the Yankees constant roster shifting, Melky was cut lose last month despite getting five hits and scoring two runs in only 13 at bats. Melky, we hardly knew ye.
DH – Travis Hafner
Oh, Travis. What happened to you? The trendy pick for comeback player of the year, Hafner just totally forgot how to hit midway through the season, although a lot of that was likely a result of (shocker) an injury. I still love you, Travis.
And so goes the Yankees “what if?” roster of 2013. Although the strength of the infield is undercut a bit by a thin outfield, this lineup wouldn’t be half bad. Frankly, it’d probably be a lot better than the lineup the Yanks put out today against Boston.