I've done some predictions for roster spot contenders, but nothing on the actual 25-man roster yet. Good thing too because all of them would have been rendered meaningless after the injuries to C-Grand and Teix. But with it being just two weeks from Opening Day and the ST roster getting cut down more and more every couple days, the outline of the real roster spot contenders is starting to become more clear. We know who's not going to be ready (C-Grand, Teix, A-Rod), we know who is after this week of in-game appearances from Jeter, Mo, Andy, and CC, and there's one guy who's still not a guarantee one way or the other in Phil Hughes. That's enough for me to make a pretty good educated guess, so here's the first attempt at predicting the 25-man roster we'll see on Opening Day.
1) Brett Gardner- CF
2) Derek Jeter- SS
3) Robinson Cano- 2B
4) Kevin Youkilis- 3B
5) Travis Hafner- DH
6) Juan Rivera- 1B
7) Brennan Boesch- LF
8) Francisco Cervelli- C
9) Ichiro Suzuki- RF
1) CC Sabathia
2) Hiroki Kuroda
3) Andy Pettitte
4) Ivan Nova **
5) David Phelps **
Bullpen: Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, David Aardsma, Clay Rapada, Phil Hughes **
Bench: Chris Stewart, Eduardo Nunez, Melky Mesa, Ronnier Mustelier
**- If I had to guess right now, I would say Hughes won't be quite ready to make his first scheduled start in the rotation, which will force Nova and Phelps up a spot. I do think he'll be ready the second time his turn comes up in the rotation, though, so I don't think Joe will have a problem carrying Hughes on the roster and starting with a bit of a shorthanded bullpen to open the season.
Some other thoughts:
- As much as I want to see Youkilis at first, it doesn't look like it's going to happen with the amount of work he's getting at third and the amount of work Rivera is getting at first. I think the Yankees will trust Rivera's bat over any other corner IF option and will start him there to keep Youkilis at third.
- I've got Boesch in the Opening Day starting outfield because he's the most solid contract situation. The Yanks gave Rivera and Diaz opt-out clauses in their MiL deals, but those are still MiL deals. Boesch is signed to a Major League deal and has a guaranteed 40-man roster spot. Unless he gets hurt or strikes out every AB for the rest of camp he's going to play.
- Cervelli over Stewart based on defense right now. TCS has more familiarity with this rotation, but Cervelli has been really impressive behind the plate and he does offer a slightly higher offensive ceiling.
- We'll see what happens with Ben Francisco, but I think Melky Mesa still has the inside edge based on his defense despite a recent rough stretch with the bat. And Mustelier gets the last roster spot because he can play the infield and the outfield and the Yanks don't seem interested in letting Nunez play anything but short.
- Logan and Rapada are still question marks health-wise, but until we know for sure they are going to be out for a while they're still the easy favorites over any other reliever left in camp.
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