Sep 4, 2009, 5:05 PM EDT
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.
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.
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