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If you're not familiar with WhatIfSports, please read this cautionary tale called "I See Dead People" from the great Sports Guy, Bill Simmons.

Now, thanks to WhatIfSports, Da Box is proud to bring you the first-ever What If Jays Series, as the All-Time Jays team faces off with the All-Time Yankees team in a seven-game series. But first, we need some help in finalizing the rosters of the two teams.

Now, to be fair ...

... the so-called "All-Time" Yankees will only consist of players who have donned the pinstripes since the Blue Jays were born in 1977. So this is no Ruth-Gehrig-Mantle-DiMaggio-Berra ambush-slash-slaughter.

It's simple, really; we select the best possible roster from single-season performances of the two teams, load the rosters and play seven simulated games. I've assembled working rosters -- WhatIfSports limitations demand an eight-person starting lineup, four bench players, four starting pitchers and four relievers -- for critique and review.

A few other roster rules:
- It's not just three outfielders; starters must have appeared primarily in LF, CF and RF respectively.
- The bench will consist of a backup C, a backup infielder (who has played multiple positions), a backup outfielder and the starting designated hitter, from any position in team history.
- Players who appeared for both teams are eligible to make both rosters, so big fans of Rick Cerone, Jesse Barfield, John Mayberry, Tony Fernandez, Jimmy Key and others can make their arguments; and yes, it's possible we could have a Game 7 Clemens vs. Clemens tilt.
- Suggestions and complaints can be made here through next Monday; then Coach (for the Jays) and I (for the Yanks) will make final determinations. (Coach doesn't know this yet. Well, now he does. But it IS his home field.)
- We will also need a lineup; one with a DH and one without (I'm not positive WhatIfSports allows for use of the DH, but I think so) and to decide in what stadium the Jays home games should be played.

I'll load the final rosters and play out the series a game at a time, posting game reports here for commentary and "suggestions" on lineup changes, who should pitch, etc. etc.

There are some anomalies, to be sure; the Yank rotation I ended up with in this draft consists solely of lefties, for instance.

And now, your 1977-2002 All-Time Yankee roster:

C Thurman Munson (1977)
1B Don Mattingly (1985)
2B Alfonso Soriano (2002)
SS Derek Jeter (1999)
3B Graig Nettles (1977)
LF Dave Winfield (1983)
CF Bernie Williams (2000)
RF Reggie Jackson (1980)
Bench/DH Rickey Henderson (1985)
Bench/MI Roy Smalley (1983)
Bench/C Jorge Posada (2000)
Bench/OF Paul O'Neill (1997)

SP Ron Guidry (1978)
SP Tommy John (1979)
SP Andy Pettitte (1997)
SP Jimmy Key (1994)
RP Mariano Rivera (1999)
RP Dave Righetti (1986)
RP Rich Gossage (1981)
RP Ron Davis (1979)

And what you've really been waiting for .. your All-Time Blue Jay roster (until you all rip it apart with "recommendations" ...)

C Ernie Whitt (1987)
1B John Olerud (1993)
2B Roberto Alomar (1993)
SS Tony Fernandez (1987)
3B Kelly Gruber (1990)
LF George Bell (1987)
CF Lloyd Moseby (1983)
RF Shawn Green (1999)
Bench/DH Carlos Delgado (1999)
Bench/MI Alfredo Griffin (1979)
Bench/C Pat Borders (1993)
Bench/OF Jesse Barfield (1986)

SP Dave Stieb (1985)
SP Roger Clemens (1997)
SP Jimmy Key (1987)
SP Pat Hentgen (1996)
RP Tom Henke (1989)
RP Duane Ward (1993)
RP Billy Koch (2000)
RP Dennis Lamp (1985)
WHAT IF? Jays/Yanks in Battle for the Ages | 34 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_DS - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 12:06 PM EDT (#33662) #
Delgado 2000 was much better than Delgado 1999
_Sean - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 12:14 PM EDT (#33663) #
Where's Mark Eichorn's 1986 season?
Coach - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 12:24 PM EDT (#33664) #
Mick, this is very cool. But with my Ursula Franklin Academy team, the Toronto Playgrounds Rookie Ball squad, too many fantasy teams, and my self-appointed responsibility to give daily advice to the 2003 Jays, I may be unable to devote adequate attention to this epic Series. I'd consider it an honour to be bench coach if someone else would take the reins as GM and skipper of the plucky underdog Jays. Interested candidates, please submit your qualifications below, along with your critique of Mick's picks. Maybe there's a combination of Gillick and Gaston lurking within the ZLC.
_Jurgen - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 12:35 PM EDT (#33665) #
I agree, and I think Delgado '00 is a better starter than Olerud '93.

Who else thinks Giambi '02 was better than Mattingly '85? I guess that one's close.

If you need a righty for the Yanks rotation, why not Mussina '01 instead of Key '94 and his piddly 168 IP? Key '93 is a better choice, with Mussina maybe instead of John. (How's Moose supposed to make the HOF if he can't even crack the All Yanks All Stars?)

Wetteland '95 or '96 would also seem to be an improvement over Righetti or Davis. Or Stanton '97?

Actually, why not just make Clemens, Key, and Wells go head to head against themselves?
_King Rat - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 12:37 PM EDT (#33666) #
A few minor tweaks I'd suggest to the Jays roster:

2000 Carlos rather than 1999 Carlos, as DS suggests.

Possibly 1993 Devon White over Moseby, much though it pains me to suggest it. Nothing against Devo, I was just a huge Moseby fan.

1982 Damaso Garcia has a case for the backup MI slot over Alfredo.

A question regarding the makeup of the team: are we looking, pure and simple, for the best seasons in Jays/Yanks history period? Or are we looking for a more nebulous definition of a 'representative' team, taking players who had long distinguished careers with one team or the other over a guy who had one or two better seasons with New York or Toronto before splitting? If it's the first, then the rotation you suggest for Toronto is unquestionably the best available. However, starting Roger sticks in my craw a little, so if we're looking for a less obnoxious ex-Jay with more service time in Toronto, I would submit 1986 Jim Clancy as an option. Or, dropping the 'less obnoxious' part but sticking with guys who have a long history in Toronto, how about 2000 David Wells?

In the bullpen, regardless of selection criteria, I think that I'd take either 1986 Mark Eichhorn or 1997 Paul Quantrill over Lamp, and maybe even Koch. All in all though, the Jays roster looks great. Good job. This sounds like fun.
_King Rat - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 12:40 PM EDT (#33667) #
Oh yeah, Jays home field. Can I cast a forlorn vote for the Ex here? I know it was a pretty bad place to watch a game, but it drove opposing players nuts. Plus, all of my good Jays memories date from the eighties, so the Ex looms larger in my mind then perhaps it should.
_Mick - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 12:44 PM EDT (#33668) #
This is great feedback -- and honestly, I didn't agonize over any of the choices I made because I knew there would be suggestions like these, so don't hesitate to criticize. But don't expect answers to "why'd you pick ... ?"

I think one-season wonders are perfectly appropriate -- I had to reach to find Smalley as a decent Bench/MI guy -- and it's not like Rickey or Winnie are primarily seen as Yankees. But I also admit I tried to choose candidates from throughout the quarter century, so it wouldn't just be the 1977/1998 Yanks taking on the 1985/1993 Jays.

I really tried to figure out a way to get Doug Ault on the team, but hey, Freddie McGriff isn't even there (now, anyway) ...

And no qualifications or resumes necessary. First ZLCer to bid on Coach's recently-resigned assignment s'cool wit'me.
_King Rat - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 12:51 PM EDT (#33669) #
Turning to the hated Yankees, would 1980 or 1987 Willie Randolph not fit in? I think I'd take him over Smalley, but maybe I'm subconsciously trying to weaken the opposition. 1997 David Cone over Jimmy Key, for my money, or maybe I just don't want Key pitching against Toronto. 2001 Mussina over John as well, though that's close. Regardless, the Yankees also look good. Far too good.
Mike D - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 12:59 PM EDT (#33670) #
Gosh, I wish there were a way to get '93 Molitor onto this team. He played a little 3B and 1B in the World Series that year...Bench infielder, anyone?
_Mick - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 12:59 PM EDT (#33671) #
Here's a teaser of things to come ...

In an exhibition game held at Exhibition Stadium, the 1998 New York Yankees knocked off the 1992 Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 in a prelude to the forthcoming Battle for the Ages.

The Jays jumped to an early lead as Devon White homered to lead off the bottom of the first off Yank hurler Andy Pettitte. The home team doubled its lead in the third when Robbie Alomar tripled and Joe Carter plated him with a flare single to left field.

But Pettitte settled down and shut out the Jays the rest of the way through the eighth as his teammates scraped together three runs off Pat Hentgen, who tossed a complete game in the losing effort.

The big blow came in the eighth when Tino Martinez doubled with the sacks full and two runs scored, giving the Yanks their first lead of the game. Toronto right fielder Rob Butler gunned down Bernie Williams at the plate on the play to quell any further rally.

Mariano Rivera nailed down a save with a less-than-perfect ninth as he walked Tony Fernandez to start the frame. After Butler and Ed Sprague were retired, Pat Border belted a drive to right that Tim Raines caught against the wall to preserve the victory.
Mike D - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 01:02 PM EDT (#33672) #
Mick, what's Rob Butler doing in RF? Can't we move Carter there and put Rickey Henderson in LF?

Having said that -- great throw, Robbie!
Mike D - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 01:03 PM EDT (#33673) #
OK, I'm an idiot. This is 1992. In that case, put the Candy Man in LF.
_rodent - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 01:10 PM EDT (#33674) #
K.R. suggests Damo over Griff as the bench infielder. I wondered how much worse the former's bb2k ratio was...the answer is, not much.

How about the '99 Homer Bush.
_King Rat - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 02:04 PM EDT (#33675) #

it's a really minor point, but while I'll agree that Garcia was not a good player even in his early '80s heyday, he was every bit as good as Bush in his equally shortlived late '90s heyday. Both were slightly below average offensively, and their stolen base ratio was comparable. If bb/k is to be the tiebreaker, Garcia's is twice as good as Bush's. That said, either is a perfectly serviceable backup infielder.
_Spicol - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 03:32 PM EDT (#33676) #
Mick, you've assembled a pretty good team and overall, one that I would have chosen with only these few exceptions:

Ernie Whitt 1989 was better than 1987. Borders is a good choice for backup catcher, due to the defensive improvement over the other possible candidate in Darrin Fletcher (some of those Yanks can fly) and he's RH.

I might get flamed for saying this, but my choice for middle infielder would either be Tony Batista circa 1999 (122 OPS+ in a Toronto uniform with average D) or Rance Mullniks circa 1987 (the dropoff from Rance's 127 OPS+ to Alfredo's 88 is too huge to overlook). Since the bench is heavily RH, I'd end up taking Rance.

Juan Guzman 1996 makes my roster over Pat Hentgen. Mark Eichhorn 1986 over Dennis Lamp for sure. That's one outstanding bullpen. We don't have a LH. If we need one, I nominate Dan Plesac 2001 but I don't think we need one and don't know who he could bump off this team. Eichhorn and Koch would likely fare just as well against LH as Plesac and smoke RH as well.
_Jurgen - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 03:41 PM EDT (#33677) #
Sorry, Spicol, but Guzman's 187.2 IP shouldn't compare to Pat's 265.2. We've got a good bullpen, but no need to use it up all at once.
_Spicol - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 03:53 PM EDT (#33678) #
Why should IP be a determining factor? In a sim, Guzman's 7 innings would be more effective than Hentgen's 7. While Pat's ERA was good, his WHIP was poo (1.25) for a Cy Young winner. Guzman's was 1.12 in comparison.
Dave Till - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 03:54 PM EDT (#33679) #
Y'know, it's almost possible to assemble a team consisting of major leaguers who have announced for the Jays. We're just one infielder short.

(I won't bother looking up their best seasons, 'cause I'm lazy.)

C - Buck Martinez
1B - Tommy Hutton
2B - ?
SS - Tony Kubek
3B - Kelly Gruber (has done a little booth duty)
LF - Gary Matthews
CF - Joe Carter
RF - Pat Tabler
LHP - John Cerutti
RHP - Tom Candiotti
(actually, Early Wynn would be a better starting pitcher than either of them)
_Spicol - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 04:04 PM EDT (#33680) #
Freddie Patek filled in for Buck on TSN for a few games a couple of years ago. There's your 2B.
_Mick - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 04:14 PM EDT (#33681) #
Dang, I was going to nominate Joe Morgan, just to annoy the ZLC.
_Spicol - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 04:43 PM EDT (#33682) #
By the way Mick, since you have no volunteers from the official ZLC yet, I'll offer my services as Coach-wannabe. Since I have Easter Monday off, I can fully devote my time to such a worthwhile cause.

Should a real member of the ZLC want the job though, I'll graciously bow out.
_Jurgen - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 04:48 PM EDT (#33683) #
For some reason I was thinking of 162 games against the Yankees. The difference between Guzman and Hentgen based on # of starts and IP would be 6.93 IP Guzman v 7.57 IP Hentgen. Not really much of a difference.

Still, I still think it should matter in terms of who we choose that's most worthy (and not necessarily most likely to not be crushed by the Yankee), however, in choosing the best of the best. I think pitching nearly 100 IP more should count for something in terms of worthiness.
_Jurgen - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 04:51 PM EDT (#33684) #
Yikes. Bad cut and paste mistake there. Prizes to anyone who can figure out what the hell I was trying to say.
_King Rat - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 05:15 PM EDT (#33685) #
Jurgen's latest post again raises a question: are we looking for the best possible Jay team made up of single seasons with the Jays, or is this a team of the best Jays at each position over the aggregate of the team's history, choosing each player's best season? I mean to ask: if Guzman was statistically better in a one-game scenario than Hentgen, but Hentgen contributed more to the team over the season, making him a more worthy representative, what is to stop us from extrapolating the logic out to career length? I'll admit that this line of questioning is partly motivated by an deep and abiding hatred for Roger Clemens, but I would like to get a sense of what other people think the selection criteria should be.
_Shrike - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 05:46 PM EDT (#33686) #
The premise (although this is arguable) leads me to believe that we're looking for the former, not the latter. Which is why I first suggested Eichorn's 1986 season, and others have identified other overlooked performances in Mick's initial thought-provoking post.
_Spicol - Thursday, April 17 2003 @ 11:37 PM EDT (#33687) #
Jurgen's latest post again raises a question: are we looking for the best possible Jay team made up of single seasons with the Jays, or is this a team of the best Jays at each position over the aggregate of the team's history, choosing each player's best season?

Since this is a statistical sim, I'm pretty sure that it's the former. There isn't much use for figuring out who deserves to be there because of impact on Toronto or who was the fan favorite or who was even here for long since the computer won't care.
_King Rat - Friday, April 18 2003 @ 12:41 AM EDT (#33688) #
Fair enough; Roger (ugh) more or less has to start game 1. I still say that Eichhorn's '86 season should be taken over Lamp, and I'd recommend that Quantrill in '97 be considered against Koch. Also either Garcia or Bush over Griffin.

I remember drawing up all time teams for every team in baseball a few years ago; then mercilessly pitting them against one another and watching the expansion babies get blown to smithereens by the old line teams. I think the Jays and post-'77 Yanks will have a competitive series; I don't think my far less computerized tourney had a really good matchup until the round of eight. Yes, there are sixteen original teams, some of them were dreadful for most of their history.
_Mick - Friday, April 18 2003 @ 12:49 PM EDT (#33689) #
Well ... remember, this is at least mostly for fun. So if you want to pick someone for the team who is more "Jay-like" over someone who was a one-season wonder, that seems perfectly appropriate. I was tempted to go with Willie Randolph over Soriano at 2B for just that reason, but went with the near 40/40 season in the end.

Randolph, incidentally, by the rules can't be the Yank Bench/MI because he never played multiple positions.

Spicol, the job is yours ...
_Spicol - Monday, April 21 2003 @ 12:49 PM EDT (#33690) #
Any last comments? Anyone? Anyone?
_Spicol - Monday, April 21 2003 @ 11:57 PM EDT (#33691) #
After much thought and spreadsheet work (thank you Sean Lahman, for both your Access database and, here it is, the final roster and lineup for the Battle of the Ages, Vs. 1:

Batting Lineup:
2B Roberto Alomar (1993) S
SS Tony Fernandez (1987) S
DH Carlos Delgado (2000) L
LF George Bell (1987) R
1B John Olerud (1993) L
RF Jesse Barfield (1986) R
CF Lloyd Moseby (1983) L
3B Kelly Gruber (1990) R
C Ernie Whitt (1989) L

Comments: The lineup was tough. Splitting the lefties is my sole reasoning behind hitting Bell higher than he might merit if OBP were the only consideration. With Tony hitting 2nd, this resembles a more traditional lineup. Normally, that wouldn't be my cup of tea and I'd have shoved Olerud and his 473 OBP in the 2nd spot but Johnnie would really clog up the bases. Again, I'm not always a fan of building a lineup around speed but it is just too big an asset to ignore with this team. Here, Olerud almost acts as a 2nd leadoff man in the middle of the lineup, getting on base at a huge rate for Barfield, Moseby and Gruber behind him. Olerud's defense has him playing 1st over Delgado.

Bench: Pat Borders (1990), Shawn Green (1999), Rance Mulliniks (1983)

Comments: The bench gets really tricky since the MI has to have played multiple positions. Alfredo Griffin and Damaso Garcia, aside from being horrible offensive players, don't apply since they didn't play anywhere aside from SS and 2B respectively. I was very close to adding Eric Hinske to the squad, simply so I could use Kelly Gruber (1988) as the MI. In the end though, Kelly's D and his RH swing gets him the job and early Rance becomes the bench (yes, Rance played 2B, SS and 3B early on). Borders in the only possible RH catching option.

You could argue that Green deserves to start over Barfield and you might not be wrong. Compared to their respective leagues at the time though, Barfield is a shade better than Green (147 OPS+ for Jesse, 143 OPS+ for Green) and the greatest arm in baseball means a starting nod for the man from Joliet. Besides, Green would be an effective pinch runner.

Starting Rotation:
Roger Clemens (1997)
Jimmy Key (1987)
Dave Stieb (1985)
Juan Guzman (1996)

Comments: This is fairly easy. There was some contention that Pat Hentgen (1996) deserves the 4th spot over Guzman but Pat always allowed a lot of baserunners (1.25 WHIP compared to 1.12 for Guzman) so in a short series, Juan is the man. If the goal is to beat the hated Yankees, you want your best out there.

Tom Henke (1989) - Closer
Duane Ward (1993)
Mark Eichhorn (1986)
David Wells (1989)

Comments: I know, I know, I changed my mind on the leftie, both that this team actually needs one and that Boomer is the choice. It comes down to Wells or Billy Koch (2000). Koch's WHIP was 1.22 compared to Boomer's tight little 1.09 and Wells' K-rate of 8.13 was considerable higher than Billy's 6.86. The statistical differences aren't enough to blow me out of the water but the fact that the Yankee lineup contains Mattingly when he was a god, Graig Nettles and Reggie bumps the lefty into the pen.

Paul Quantrill may be an ok choice but he always allowed too many baserunners, despite the nice ERAs.

Overall: This is an excellent, well-balanced team that stacks up well next to George's boys. The pitching should dominate and I'm really looking forward to the series.

Oh and finally, this team plays it's home games at SkyDome. Since I'm picking players based on best overall seasons while in a Jays uniform, I figure I should pick a stadium based on best overall season as well. SkyDome, with it's huge crowds in the early 90s, was a great place to watch a ballgame.
_Mick - Tuesday, April 22 2003 @ 12:37 PM EDT (#33692) #
Wow, what great analysis.

Now, for the Yankee analysis:
"We're gonna kick the crap out of the Blue Jays. Fuhgeddaboutit."

Game 1, tonight, Clemens and Guidry at the Skydome.

The tentative starting lineup (manager Billy-Joe-Bob "Buck" Lem-Martin Showalter-Torre may make a few last minute changes):

Rickey Henderson, DH
Bernie Williams, CF
Don Mattingly, 1B
Reggie Jackson, RF
Dave Winfield, LF
Graig Nettles, 3B
Thurman Munson, C
Derek Jeter, SS
Alfonso Soriano, 2B

Jeter and Soriano have agreed to hit eighth and ninth out of respect for Yankee tradition.

Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano are hitting eighth and ninth. Are you ready, Roger?
_Mick - Tuesday, April 22 2003 @ 12:43 PM EDT (#33693) #
P.S. I know, we were supposed to play Game 1 yesterday.

It, uh ... rained?

Wait, it's a Dome.

It was a SARS scare. There.
_Mick - Tuesday, April 22 2003 @ 07:20 PM EDT (#33694) #
Spicol, with customized teams you can't use the DH.
What do you want to do with your lineup?

(Hey, I'm losing Rickey Henderson as a leadoff man, so I can relate ... do you bench Olerud for Delgado? Who hits where?)
_Spicol - Tuesday, April 22 2003 @ 07:39 PM EDT (#33695) #
Can Delgado catch then? Argh. I hate to do this but sit Olerud and move everyone up a spot.

Good luck to the pitchers! Now I wish I had chosen Todd Stottlemyre, if only for his base running ability.
WHAT IF? Jays/Yanks in Battle for the Ages | 34 comments | Create New Account
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