Without sports, Twitter has been filled with hypothetical questions. People want to rank everything from animals to athletes to fast food restaurants. With that in mind, I pose the question: which member of the Core 5 would you add to this Yankees roster for a playoff run?
Parameters: First, I’m sick of Bernie Williams being omitted from the Core 4, so I’m changing the name to the Core 5 and adding him. The situation is that the Yankees have won the 2020 A.L. East division title and are heading to the playoffs. You can choose to add any of the following players in their prime to the roster:
The case for Posada
There really is no case here. If anything, replacing Gary Sanchez with Jorge would be a downgrade, not an upgrade. Like Sanchez, Jorge struggled mightily with passed balls. He also never had the power at the plate or the throwing arm that Sanchez does. It’s virtually impossible to make a case for Jorge.
The case for Bernie
Now we’re talking! Bernie would immediately replace Aaron Hicks as the starting centerfielder. As a switch hitter, he would fit anywhere in the lineup between 2-6. While Hicks has purchased a vacation home on the injured list, Bernie was a pillar of durability. He played in at least 140 games eight different times. Aaron Hicks has never done that once. Personally, I would slot Bernie into the three hole between Judge and Stanton to break up the strikeouts and wreak some havoc.
A true five-tool player, Bernie would help both the offense and the defense immensely. His clutch hitting with runners in scoring position would be particularly helpful for a group that just hasn’t come up big in the playoffs yet. A career .297 hitter with plus power, he would help provide much needed balance to the offense. Defensively, the five time gold-glover would provide some stability in centerfield, where the Yankees have obviously had major injury problems. The argument for Bernie is easy to make.
The case for Mariano
This is simple. Mariano becomes the closer. Chapman moves to the 8th. Britton moves to the 7th. Kahnle moves to the 6th. Green can be used as the two-inning guy and Otto becomes a right-handed specialist. This is the move to make if you want to prioritize the back end of games. This would give the Yankees the greatest bullpen in the history of baseball and the 9th inning would be much less of an adventure than it is with Chapman. On the contrary, the starting pitching and the offense have plagued the Yankees in the playoffs, not the bullpen. While Mariano would obviously make life easier, it doesn’t necessarily address the greatest need.
The case for Derek Jeter
Arguably the greatest performer in playoff history, it’s an easy case for the captain. He leads all-time in playoff hits, runs, and at-bats. Personally, I would slide Gleyber to third and keep DJ at 2nd. With Voit staying at first, Gio would be my odd man out here. Derek would provide ailing relief to a lineup that simply hasn’t gotten the big signature playoff hit yet.
He and DJ can hit 1-2 in any order, and they would cause fits atop the lineup before the big boys. Derek’s contact-first approach would be a nice change of pace from the grip it and rip it group that we have now. Defensively, you can lock him in at shortstop and forget about it.. We wouldn’t have to worry about him making any silly errors or mistakes. The downside here is that the Yankees middle infield might be their biggest strength already.
The case for Andy Petitte
This is my winner. Slot Andy in Game 2, behind Gerrit Cole, and don’t look back. Sure, the Yankees have a decent 1-2-3 with Cole, Tanaka and Paxton, but this would give us the best rotation of the playoff teams. As great as Tanaka has been in the post season, he laid an egg in Game Four of the ALCS when we were desperate for a win. Paxton had a mediocre postseason as well. I would feel much more comfortable with Andy going in Game 2, Tanaka in Game 3, and Paxton in Game 4, instead of the current setup. Andy may not be the most accomplished of the Core Five, but he fits this roster the best. Most playoff wins in MLB history? Yeah, that’s all I needed to hear.
Obviously there is no perfect answer here. Which of these players would you add to the 2020 roster for a playoff run?