I’ve been working a lot lately, so perhaps I just feel the need to have a little harmless fun. So, I’m stealing a page from every roadtrip I think I’ve ever been on, and bringing up the totally pointless but still entertaining topic of franchise players. You know you’ve talked about this with your friends before or heard it on sports radio or on ESPN: If you were starting a franchise tomorrow, who would you take?
Well, I’m going to take that a step further. If I was starting a franchise tomorrow and given first pick of each player at a given position, this is how it would go. I’ve slotted players into roles that I feel their talent level matches, so no Josh Beckett as my fifth starter type picks. I’m giving myself a $100 million salary cap, by the way.
Catcher: Joe Mauer – perhaps the easiest call on the whole team.
First Base: Albert Pujols – okay, this might have been even easier.
Second Base: Rickie Weeks – just got called up from Triple-A. He’s going to be a star.
Shorstop: Alex Rodriguez – when a guy is this good, you’ll take his decline phase.
Third Base: David Wright – he’s Scott Rolen without the bad back.
Left Field: Delmon Young – tearing the cover off the baseball in Double-A as a teenager.
Center Field: Carlos Beltran – he didn’t have much competition, though I don’t love his contract.
Right Field: Miguel Cabrera – Perhaps the most talented player of the whole bunch.
Reserve Catcher: Humberto Quintero – you haven’t seen a kid play defense like this since Pudge.
Reserve Corner Infielder: Kevin Youkilis – the Greek God of Great Bench Players.
Reserve Middle Infielder: Alex Cintron – Solid glove, good stick, not good enough to complain.
Fourth Outfielder: Ryan Church – one of the more unheralded players in the game.
Fifth Outfielder: Jason Michaels – lefty masher, underrated centerfielder.
Utility Player: Bill Hall – mostly an infielder, but has the arm and athleticism to learn outfield.
Number One Starter: Roy Halladay – Closest thing we have to mid-90s Greg Maddux.
Number Two Starter: Mark Buehrle – Most underrated pitcher in the game.
Number Three Starter: Brandon Webb – Extreme groundballer finding control again.
Number Four Starter: Dan Haren – average stuff, good command, and an innings eater.
Number Five Starter: Brad Halsey – the very poor man’s Mark Buehrle.
Closer: Brad Lidge – I’m not sure how long he’ll be healthy, but I want that arm in my bullpen.
Righty Setup: Huston Street – Can go several innings and get big strikeouts when needed.
Lefty Setup: B.J. Ryan – Best lefty reliever in the game. And its not really close.
Middle Relief: Chris Ray – you haven’t heard of him yet, but he’s going to be ridiculous.
Long Relief: Julio Mateo – basically perfect for the role.
Spot Starter: Matt Belisle – swing guy who can work in relief or in the rotation.
The ’05 payroll would be in the $85 million range. Once I had to give raises and extensions to a few of the soon to be arbitration eligible types, I’d be getting near the $100 million cap.
So, there you go. For each of the 25 spots on on a roster, those are my “franchise guys”, the ones I’d take if given a choice among anyone in the game at their respective role.