Yesterday I discussed the pros and cons of the Yankees utility infielder choices and today I want to look at another postseason roster question: Will the Yankees carry outfielder Greg Golson on the roster?
This is basically a question of how many pitchers the Yankees are going to carry and will they take backup catcher Chad Moeller with them.
Typically during the season the Yankees carry 12 pitchers, sometimes even 13, but it is possible that they carry only 11 during the ALDS. After all, they will get two breaks during the series so they will not ever have to burn out relievers by using them three games in a row.
Assuming Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte, Hughes, Rivera, Joba, Robertson, Wood, Logan and Nova are locks for the pitching staff, that leaves the Yankees with only one other option.
However, they may want to carry both a lefty Royce Ring and Chad Gaudin, putting them at 12. Ring would be a benefit because it would give them a second lefty. Gaudin would be a benefit because if they are on the losing end of a blowout they wouldn’t have to use valuable relievers and could save them for more important innings.
Both could be beneficial to the team, but in a short series they aren’t necessary. There is another situation to consider before the Yankees could add Golson to the roster, Moeller.
There are 13 position players that should be considered locks to make the playoff roster. Among them is outfielder Austin Kearns and DH/OF Marcus Thames (although they would probably try to stay away from using him in the outfield as desperately as possible). Ramiro Pena could also play the outfield if he is chosen over Eduardo Nunez.
So there isn’t exactly a desperate need for Golson as they could conceivably get by without him and have gotten by without a 5th/6th outfielder for almost the entire season. For that reason they may choose to take Moeller over Golson.
Having Moeller on the roster would allow them to use Francisco Cervelli as a starter and pinch hit for him with either Jorge Posada or Lance Berkman late in a game and still have insurance against a late injury to a catcher.
The thing to consider here is that Cervelli is hitting quite well lately. Over the last 16 games he has a .432 average and actually has a 1.085 OPS. This might give you incentive to use him as a starter, but could also give you incentive not to pinch hit for him. Still, you may want to pinch hit for somebody else and if Cervelli is starting that likely means Posada would be the bat off the bench. Having a third catcher in that situation would be necessary.
Finally, let’s look at Golson himself. Golson, a former 1st round draft pick, is 24-years-old. He’s certainly not a great bat, but in a must hit situation his .261 batting average could be worse. What he really provides you with is speed and defense off the bench.
Yankee fans saw in 2004 how big a late game stolen base can be. Golson also has a cannon for an arm and we’ve already seen that come up in a big spot when he nailed Carl Crawford at third to end a game a few weeks ago.
Kearns might be a decent late inning defensive replacement, but he’s likely going to start against lefties and be lifted for a pinch hitter, Curtis Granderson, as soon as possible. So in a late game situation where defense is paramount, without Golson the Yankees may not be able to lift Nick Swisher for instance.
As far as speed off the bench is concerned, the Yankees don’t necessarily need Golson. Pena or Nunez probably have comparable speed to Golson and could do the same job. The thing is though, say the Yankees are down by a run in the 9th inning. Lance Berkman and Jorge Posada are the base runners. Does just one pinch runner cut it?
Essentially this comes down to 11 or 12 pitchers. If they go with 11, which they are likely to do, then it comes down to a third catcher or a 5th outfielder question.
Which will the Yankees choose? Which would you choose?