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Offseason Icebreakers, Vol. 2: The Unbeatable Team

In order to alleviate the boredom of the offseason–the NFL and regular season ice hockey being inadequate as diversions–I’ll be posting icebreaker questions periodically. They’ll always be at least tangentially related to the Phillies, and, as always, feel free to leave your own answers in the comment section.

This icebreaker comes courtesy of my younger brother, who killed about 3 hours on a bus somewhere in Eastern Europe with this question. You are hired as the general manager of a baseball team and given the task of assembling a team that will win each of the next 10 World Series. If you fail, you’ll be executed.

The Rules:

You can choose any 25 people on the planet, regardless of contract status or if they’re in the major leagues. Money is no object–any player can be had and paid. You can also choose any assortment of players–if you want to go with 8 position players and 17 pitchers, or vice versa, knock yourself out.

However, once you choose your 25-man roster, no changes can be made for 10 years. Also, while money is no object, injuries and aging are, so if you pick Roy Halladay as your ace, don’t expect him to perform at his current level until he’s 44. And while you’re at it, you also have to hire a manager and a coaching staff. A big tip of the hat to FanGraphs and Baseball Reference, two sites that, as always, have been my primary sources for research.

My Unbeatable Team is after the jump. If you feel so inclined, make up one of your own and leave it in the comments section. Warning: this post is 5,001 words long, so if you’re one of those people who refuses to read anything longer than a comic strip, you might want to take a pass.

Catcher: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

The key for this team is to pick players who are 1) good 2) young enough that they won’t be statues in 10 years and 3) versatile. Posey, one of the most-hyped prospects in the game coming into this year, backed up the talk, much to the dismay of Phillies fans in the NLCS. Here’s a stat for you: all-time, only three rookie catchers aged 24 or under have had seasons of 400 or more plate appearances with a higher OPS than Posey’s: Rudy York in 1937, Mike Piazza in 1993, and Brian McCann in 2006. Add to that Posey’s extraordinary athleticism and throwing arm, and he’s a perfect backstop for the next decade.

First Base: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals

The oldest member of The Unbeatable Team, Pujols will be 31 by Opening Day 2011, and will be 40 at the end of the 2020 World Series. Pujols makes this team with the knowledge that he’ll be on the decline phase of his career. The thing about Pujols is that his decline phase is probably going to be as good as anyone else’s prime. I know you’ve all heard these stats before, but in baseball history, here is where Pujols’ first 10 seasons rank: first in home runs, second in hits, second in runs scored, first in doubles, ninth in walks, ninth in batting average, eighth in on base percentage, and fifth in slugging percentage and OPS. And when he’s down on the list, the guys ahead of him are consistently named Ruth, Foxx, Gehrig, Williams, and Musial; in short, all-time greats who played in an era even more hitter-friendly than the Steroid Era. Pujols is a top-flight defensive first baseman who’s never played fewer than 143 games can also play outfield and, in a dire emergency, third base. So if and when he breaks down, he’ll have a spot as a bat off the bench, where his career 1.096 OPS against lefties might come in handy.

Second Base: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees

For this team, I don’t like picking players over 25, because no matter how good you are, you wear down by your mid-30s. However, the proverbial cupboard is bare at second base. Here is a complete list of major league second basemen, aged 24 or younger, who in 2009 or 2010 had at least 200 plate appearances in a season, played at least 10 percent of their defensive innings at second base, and posted an OPS of .800 or better: Neil Walker.

Chase Utley is my pick for best second baseman in the game, but he’s already on the wrong side of 30 and has been out injured or playing hurt pretty much constantly since 2007. Likewise, there’s no Jason Heyward-type second base prospect looming in the minors. That leaves Cano, 28 on Opening Day 2011, and Dustin Pedroia, 27. Cano gets the nod for two reasons: he’s a left-handed bat on a so-far righty-loaded team, and that since 2007, Pedroia’s first full season, Cano has never played fewer than 159 games, while Pedroia has never played more than 157, and missed significant time this year. That’s not to say that Pedroia is injury-prone, but with a fixed 25-man roster for a full decade, we can’t take too many chances. Cano gets the starting nod, and come 2016 or so, when he starts to slow down, we’ll figure something out then.

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins

Yes, he’s a dreadful defensive player, yes, he’s got a reputation as a lollygagger, yes, he’ll be 36, which is rather long in the tooth for a shortstop, by the 2020 World Series. But in five seasons, Ramirez has won a rookie of the year award, finished in the top 10 in the NL in WAR three times, won a batting title, made three all-star teams, and played in at least 142 games every season. I’ll take a shortstop who can hit in the mid-.300s with patience and power, plus steal 50 bases a season, any day. Barring injury, the worst-case scenario for Hanley is that by the time he’s 36, he’ll be a good righty contact bat with decent speed, decent power, and terrible advanced defensive stats. Sounds a lot like Derek Jeter today, and the Yankees have done just fine with him at shortstop the past two years.

Third Base: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays

I went back and forth on this one between Longoria and Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals. Both are outstanding defenders, former top-5 draft picks, and solid middle-of-the-order right-handed bats. Longoria gets the nod because, at 25, he’s about a year younger than Zimmerman and has two fewer major league seasons on his odometer. Logoria’s also a slightly better athlete and better baserunner (he was perfect in 16 stolen base attempts over his first two ML seasons). Last winter, Longoria was ranked as the most valuable trade commodity in major league baseball by FanGraphs, though that’s mostly because of his contract, which is not a concern here. Nevertheless, Longoria is only 25 and should be a cornerstone for the next decade.

Left Field: Mike Stanton, Florida Marlins

We’re going a little old in the infield, because of the relative lack of top-level prospects at those positions. Such is not the case in the outfield. There is a crop of young outfielders coming up all at once that defies the imagination. The top two outfielders on the free agent market this year, Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth, are expected to be replaced, more or less seamlessly, by rookies, neither of whom will make this team. Stanton is part of a four-outfielder rotation that will only include two players with more than a year’s major league service time.

I was every bit as excited to see Stanton for the first time this season as Jason Heyward. Stanton put up minor league numbers the likes of which I’d never seen–in 2008, at age 18, a .993 OPS at A-level. In 2010, a 1.171 OPS and 21 home runs in 240 plate appearances, plus 44 walks against 53 strikeouts. Upon arriving in Miami, still only aged 20, he posted a .507 slugging percentage and 22 home runs in 396 plate appearances. He strikes out quite a bit, but he’s an excellent defensive outfielder and a huge right-handed power bat.

Center Field: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

A Pittsburgh Pirate on this team? Well, why not? He’s 24, blindingly fast, and already hitting pretty consistently in the .280s with an OBP north of .360. Despite being only 5-foot-10 and weighing only 175 pounds, he hits for pretty good power, with 103 extra-base hits in 1146 major league plate appearances. At the moment, he’s Shane Victorino with a power stroke and the potential to get much better very soon. As he gets older, that mid-range power, good plate discipline, and what is now above-average defense will mature into, in a best-case scenario, a poor man’s Rickey Henderson with dreadlocks. McCutchen is the cornerstone of the Pirates’ rebuilding effort; put him at the top of this lineup, and he’ll score 150 runs a year.

Right Field: Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves

Here is the list of the top OBP marks by a rookie, aged 20 or younger, with 300 or more plate appearances. Ted Williams is first, Frank Robinson third, Arky Vaughan fourth, Willie Mays seventh, and Mickey Mantle ninth. In the top 10 on that list, three players are active, five are in the Hall of Fame, and one (Tony Conigliaro) was arguably on his way to a Hall of Fame career before a life-threatening beaning essentially finished him as an effective player at age 22. Others in the top 25 on that list: Orlando Cepeda, Rickey Henderson, Ken Griffey, Jr., Robbie Alomar, Miguel Cabrera and Hank Aaron. This is certainly not a perfect predictor of future success, but one could do worse.

I bring this up because Heyward’s .393 OBP in 2010, good for 4th in the NL, is second on that list. Not only is he a much-needed lefty power bat for this righty-dominated lineup, but his potential as a hitter is virtually unlimited.

Backup Catcher: Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians

Santana was making a pretty decent case for AL Rookie of the Year last year before a devastating knee injury ended his season. He should be back for Opening Day 2011, however, a week shy of his 25th birthday, and because that’s the case, he gets a spot on this team. Here’s the skinny on Santana–he’s a switch-hitting catcher who posted a 144 OPS+ (and a .401 OBP) as a rookie–in short, a 2.2 WAR season in less than 200 plate appearances. He should, at the very least, be able to spell Posey and balance the lineup against tough righties.

Fourth Outfielder/Left-Handed Bench Bat: Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds

Only 23, with decent plate discipline, a career slugging percentage of better than .500 against right-handed pitching, and already (one dreadful night in this year’s NLDS aside), one of the best defensive right fielders in the game. Hitting behind the reigning NL MVP, Bruce is all but certain to improve, and is a key player today for one of the best teams in the National League. He might strike out a bit more than we’d like, but the guy is exactly one week younger than I am and already has three 20-home run seasons in the major leagues, so I have no room to talk.

Right-Handed Bench Bat/Backup Corner Infielder: Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals

Zimmerman is Evan Longoria, just not as pretty. We’ll find a spot for him on the bench and maybe teach him to play first base in his spare time. A side note: being stuck on the crappy Nationals is penance for Zimmerman playing on stacked amateur teams–he played alongside David Wright and B.J. Upton in AAU and was a college teammate of Mark Reynolds’ at UVA.

Fifth Outfielder/Pinch Runner: Mike Trout, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)

Many casual fans probably don’t know who he is, but with a spectacular 2010, Trout has catapulted himself into the very top tier of MLB prospects. Having not played above A-ball yet, he’s probably a little raw to start, but he’s posted tremendous on-base numbers in the low minors and, at only 19, is maturing into one of baseball’s top prospects. The Millville native reached base all four times he batted in this year’s Futures Game and, as of mid-summer, was rated Baseball America’s No. 2 minor league prospect, behind only Domonic Brown. Until Trout learns to hit higher-level pitching, he’ll be useful as a pinch runner and defensive replacement, and once he does, there’s every chance he could take that starting center field spot away from McCutchen.

Backup Middle Infielder: Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs

Remember that list of highest OBP by rookies of a certain age? Castro was 10th. I went back and forth between him and Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers pretty much since I started working on this project before finally settling on Castro. Neither has a ton of major league experience (506 PA for Castro, 1215 for Andrus), and here are their respective slash stats (batting avg./OBP/slugging pct.): .300/.347/.400 for Castro, .266/.336/.333 for Andrus, though Castro had a higher BABIP. Andrus is faster and looks like the better fielder. Castro looks like he’ll hit better and is younger. Both are primarily shortstops, though Castro has played elsewhere in the minors. It’s close, but I’ll take Castro because he’s younger and I’m a little scared by Andrus’ .301 slugging percentage last season.

Utilityman: Dustin Ackley, Tacoma Rainiers (Seattle Mariners)

The toughest decision to make with this team was whether to go with the now-traditional 13-position player/12-pitcher roster, or sacrifice a relief pitcher for a bench bat and go 14/11. On the one hand, with the fragility of young arms, one can never have too much pitching, but on the other, the way managers use their bullpens today is, believe it or not, actively counterproductive to their teams’ chances of winning. Relief aces should be pitching more and different innings, and the practice of sacrificing quality of pitcher for the platoon advantage in the late innings, over the long run, doesn’t work. Bill James has written extensively on the subject, and that’s a different argument at any rate, so suffice it to say, I went with the extra bench player, and that player is Dustin Ackley.

Ackley is the guy who got picked immediately after the Nationals got Stephen Strasburg in 2009. He can play first base, second base, and the outfield, and after putting up decent, though not spectacular numbers, in the high minors, really turned it on in this year’s Arizona Fall League. Ackley figures to see significant time next season for Seattle. For his versatility and the fact that he’s major-league ready, Ackley gets the final position player spot.

Starting Pitcher No. 1: Yu Darvish, Nippon Ham Fighters

The Japanese seem to do their baseball much the same way they do everything: just differently enough from Americans to make me uncomfortable, and with more flashing lights. So with a shorter season, 1970s-style stadia, different amateur system, and all the other differences between the Japanese game and the American, it’s hard to put Darvish in concrete MLB context, since he’s never played an MLB game and seems to have no interest in emigrating. Here’s what I do know: he’s 24, right-handed, throws a mid-90s fastball and an array of breaking pitches that would make Roy Halladay’s head spin. Coming out of high school, he was nearly as highly-touted in Japan as Strasburg was coming out of college here. Since 2007 (his age 20 season), Darvish has made between 23 and 26 starts, throwing between 182 and 207 2/3 innings, striking out between 167 and 210 batters, and posting an ERA between 1.73 and 1.88 in each of those four seasons. You don’t get that combination of youth and consistency anywhere, even on this side of the Pacific. Darvish makes my rotation.

Starting Pitcher No. 2: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

Like Darvish, Hernandez is 24, right-handed, throws a ton of innings at a very high quality, and has a track record of multiple seasons, performing at the highest level. Hernandez won the AL Cy Young and posted a stat line so similar to Roy Halladay’s that you’d have trouble telling the difference. I don’t feel like I need to spend a lot of time defending this, so let’s move on.

Starting Pitcher No. 3: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants

At 26, with a World Series and two Cy Youngs under his belt, Lincecum has the resume to make this team, but his age (he’ll be 37 by World Series 2020) and injury concerns (hasn’t made a DL trip in four seasons, but is only 5-foot-11 and has an unconventional windup) make him a risky pick. It’s not unprecedented for a short, skinny, right-handed power pitcher with wicked breaking stuff and a weird delivery to have a long, productive career; Phillies fans of all people should realize that, what with the recent stretch run performances of Pedro Martinez and Roy Oswalt. So Lincecum gets the spot.

Starting Pitcher No. 4: David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
Starting Pitcher No. 5: Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants

I’ll group these two together: both are tall power lefties and former top-10 picks who came to prominence as rookies during their teams’ respective improbable runs to the World Series. Both are fastball-slider types who strode out of Appalachia (Price from Vanderbilt, Bumgarner from Hickory, N.C., a city of 37,000 off I-40 in Catawba County. I’m all but certain I drove through there on a road trip this summer, or at least saw a road sign for it, but have no concrete recollection of the city itself) to great fanfare. Price was this year’s AL Cy Young runner-up, and Bumgarner, well, once again Phillies fans know better than perhaps anyone what he can do.

Starting Pitcher No. 6: Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins

Okay, let me explain briefly how this and the next spot work. With only six relievers, rather than the traditional seven, in this bullpen, resources are stretched a little thin. Moreover, with no injury replacements, it is imperative that quality spot starters be available on the roster at all times. Therefore, The Unbeatable Team will carry seven starters, of whom five will comprise the rotation at any given time, and two others will pitch not only in mop-up duty, but in middle relief; rather than having two guys who can pitch the sixth inning four times a week, we’ll have two guys who can pitch the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings twice a week. Johnson, coming off a season where he led the NL in ERA but was shut down for the last month of the season, is a perfect candidate for one of these spots. At 26, he’s a little old for this team, but his power stuff could be converted, late in his career, into the kind of effective middle reliever Chan Ho Park, Jose Contreras, John Smoltz, and others have become.

Johnson boasts one of the best fastballs in the game and a power slider and change-up. Far from being a meathead chucker, he boasts a career K/BB ratio of 2.75 and gets pop-ups and grounders on more than half the batters he faces. Is there an injury/age risk? Sure, but one of Johnson or Lincecum ought to work out, and the other can be this team’s Chad Durbin.

Starting Pitcher No. 7: Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies

Because you all know what Hamels can do, here’s a list of others whom I considered. A pair of Oklahomans: Oakland A’s lefty Brett Anderson, 22, whose brilliance is mitigated by his balky left elbow, and Braves righthander Tommy Hanson, 24, who has been pretty darned good in two major league seasons, but hasn’t had the kind of high-upside performances I’d like ¬†from this spot. A pair of 26-year-old Red Sox: righty Clay Buchholz, who led the majors in ERA+ this season but doesn’t have much of a track record to speak of, and Jon Lester, a big-strikeout lefty with a history like Hamels.

Others who might have made the cut but didn’t for one reason or another: Anderson’s teammate Trevor Cahill, Blue Jays lefty Ricky Romero, and Milwaukee’s one-two punch of Zack Greinke and Yovani Gallardo. Gallardo, incidentally, has a chance, if he picks up a couple Cy Youngs over the next few years, to steal the title of “Best MLB player ever named after a car” from Ichiro Suzuki before Yankees catcher Jesus Montero takes it for himself around the year 2022. Also, no Strasburg, because even assuming he makes it back from Tommy John surgery to full strength (which is not a guarantee, by the by) he’ll miss all of 2011 and spend most of 2012 trying to rediscover his admittedly formidable form. I’m not going a man down that long.

So why did I pick Hamels? Well, he’s already a top-line starter who has the kind of finesse stuff that ages well (don’t believe me? Ask Tom Glavine about his two Cy Young Awards and World Series MVP) and for no reason other than I’m a massive homer and I hadn’t picked a Phillies player yet. So sue me.

Right-handed Middle Reliever: Drew Storen, Washington Nationals

Words cannot express how much I wanted the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen for this spot. Jansen was the starting catcher on the Dutch national team that upset the Dominican Republic in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He became a relief pitcher after his coaches realized that 1) he couldn’t hit very well and 2) he could throw a mid-90s fastball. Jansen is raw as they come, but in 27 innings for the Dodgers this year, he posted a 0.67 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and 41 strikeouts. So why didn’t I pick him? He’s wild, and God only knows if he’s ever going to get better. He could wind up turning into the Curacaoan Mariano Rivera, but for all I know he could turn into the Curacaoan Steve Dalkowski.

So why Storen? Well, he’s only 23, throws four major league-quality pitches (including a mid-90s fastball), and was the pitcher the Nats took in the top 10 in the 2009 draft who wasn’t Stephen Strasburg. He took over as the Nats’ closer (inasmuch as they have one; not a lot of close leads late in games there) in August, about the time I saw him in person in a torridly hot affair at Turner Field, and went five for seven in save opportunities from then on–not great numbers, but he doesn’t have to be the man on this team, and with only 54 major league appearances under his belt, there’s room for improvement.

Left-Handed Middle Reliever: Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

Your LOOGY (lefty one-out guy) this evening is Chris Sale, a tall, skinny fellow out of Florida Gulf Coast University (it’s in Fort Myers, but I had to look it up) who looks like nothing so much as if you had taken Neil Diamond’s ears and transplanted them on to Ryan Madson. But that’s neither here nor there.

Sale is the first, and so far only, player from the 2010 draft to make it to the major leagues. In 23 1/3 major league innings, he’s been outstanding, posting an ERA+ of 229 and throwing his fastball, on average, 96.3 miles per hour. That, by the way, is not his best pitch. That would be his slider, which averages a shade under 83. Calling Sale a LOOGY in the vein of a J.C. Romero is perhaps not fair, as he held right-handed batters to an OPS of only .454 in 56 plate appearances, calling to mind Chicago’s other power lefty reliever, Matt Thornton. At 21, the sky is the limit for Sale, who may slide into Thornton’s role for 2011 with the recent departures of Bobby Jenks and J.J. Putz. At any rate, you might not of heard of him before, but Sale’s is a name worth remembering.

Setup Man: Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers

Upper-90s fastball, 40 saves, .880 WHIP, an AL pennant and the Rookie of the Year award at 22. Sold.

Relief Ace: Daniel Bard, Boston Red Sox

I say “relief ace” rather than “closer” in the vain hope that my manager might want to use his best pitcher in the highest-leverage situations, not only with leads of one to three runs in the ninth inning and in tied extra-inning games at home, as some unwritten rule seems to dictate. At any rate, here is the list of the best ERA+ in 2010 by a relief pitcher aged 25 or younger, with at least 20 appearances. Look at that list, by the way–4 of the top 12 played for Atlanta last year, though they gave up Dunn to get Dan Uggla.

Bard, 25, was nigh unhittable as Jonathan Papelbon’s caddy this season, and, like the other three dedicated relievers on this team, boasts a high-90s fastball with assorted off-speed stuff, in this case a blistering slider and an average change-up. Now, Bill Simmons is not the most astute baseball analyst out there, but he knows the Red Sox a lot better than I do, and he’s been clamoring for Bard to take over for Papelbon, a Red Sox Nation hero, for more than a year. I’ll defer to his judgment on this one.

As much as I’d like to have Pujols manage this team, we need a coaching staff. Here it is:

Manager: Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays

I am of the opinion that good coaches are either very smart (Andy Reid) or very charismatic (Charlie Manuel, Joe Torre, or Tony Dungy). Great coaches (Bill Belichick, Bobby Knight, or Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho) are both. Maddon is a cerebral type who continually gets the most out of young players–who not only play 81 games in a giant McDonald’s playground in front of mere dozens–know that one of two things will happen to them in Tampa: they’ll suck and get booted off the team, or they’ll turn out to be good, cost too much, and get booted off the team. Maddon’s had quite a bit of talent in recent years, but he’s done well in otherwise difficult circumstances. He gets it by a hair over….

Bench Coach: Manny Acta, Cleveland Indians

Good news: Acta is no longer, by winning percentage, the worst manager in MLB history. Acta was one of those coaches who was, for a time, on everyone’s shortlist for manager but never seemed to get a job. After coaching the Dominican Republic in the 2006 WBC, Acta was hired by the Nationals prior to the 2007, after 16 years coaching and managing in the minors and the Caribbean. In three years in Washington, Acta did exactly the same thing every Nationals manager has done, before or since: he got his ass kicked. Thoroughly. Fired in midseason 2009, Acta landed on his feet, managing the Cleveland Indians to a 69-93 record in 2010. So why would I want him on my coaching staff? On the strength of this interview alone.

Pitching Coach: Mike Maddux, Texas Rangers

In short, Maddux spearheaded the somewhat unique approach to pitcher use that turned C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis into very good major league starting pitchers. Maddux also helped develop young pitchers such as Ben Sheets and Yovani Gallardo in six years as pitching coach in Milwaukee. Most of the value a pitching coach has is in stalling while a relief pitcher gets up in the bullpen, or in suggesting wedding gifts. Maddux, however, has seemed to make some positive impact.

Bullpen Coach: Dave Duncan, St. Louis Cardinals

Thought about taking Mick Billmeyer and his controversial field glasses here, but instead we get Duncan, who, rather than a bullpen coach, would be a kind of reserve pitching coach. Why? Well, Tony La Russa is a moron. Not in the normal I-hate-another-team’s-manager kind of way, but in the having-an-outfielder-pitch-while-having-a-pitcher-play-outfield-and-bat-behind-Albert-Pujols kind of way. This is a guy who gets outmanaged by the likes of Jerry Manuel and Dusty Baker and gets books written about him (as an aside, those are two of my favorite sports books and there’s still time to finish shopping for that baseball fan you love). So why does La Russa get away with his lunacy? Apart from his exceptional taste in first basemen, Dave Duncan, who’s been La Russa’s pitching coach for since 1983 with three different teams. Dave Duncan is famous for teaching reclamation projects a sinker and coaxing great performances out of dead arms. I’m pretty sure he could pick a hobo off the street, teach him the forkball, and he’d win 20 games for St. Louis. I have no idea how he does it. I’ll take him too, for when Tim Lincecum blows out his elbow.

First Base Coach: Davey Lopes, Los Angeles Dodgers

It remains to be seen how much the Phillies will miss Lopes, but he worked some sort of voodoo with that stopwatch that turned everything he touched into Maury Wills. I wrote a paper last spring, for a graduate game theory class, called “Nash Equilibria in Major League Pitch Selection and Basestealing,” in which I found that from 2007 to 2009, the Phillies gained the equivalent of five wins above the league average from their basestealing alone. Despite his departure from the Phillies, Davey Lopes will always have a place on my team.

Third Base Coach: Tom Foley, Tampa Bay Rays

You can read this very analytical blog post by R.J. Anderson of FanGraphs, The Process Report, and other sites, or you can take my word for it: When Tom Foley sends a runner home, he never gets thrown out. Like, ever. A useful skill, I think.

Hitting Coach: Rudy Jaramillo, Chicago Cubs

Jaramillo, who fills out the coaching staff, has a reputation as the best in the business, having tutored that monster turn-of-the-century Rangers offense, with as well as assisting in the development of Josh Hamilton and Jeff Bagwell, among others. Jaramillo followed up a mediocre minor league career that never got above AA with a wildly successful 20-year run as a major league hitting coach, perhaps proving the adage, “If you can’t do, teach.”

To summarize: the 25-man roster, plus coaching staff:

Name Position Name Position
Buster Posey C/1B Carlos Santana C
Albert Pujols 1B/OF Robinson Cano 2B
Hanley Ramirez SS Evan Longoria 3B
Dustin Ackley 1B/2B/CF Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Starlin Castro 2B/SS Mike Stanton LF/RF
Andrew McCutchen CF Jason Heyward RF
Jay Bruce OF Mike Trout OF
Yu Darvish RHP Felix Hernandez RHP
Tim Lincecum RHP David Price LHP
Madison Bumgarner LHP Josh Johnson RHP
Cole Hamels LHP Drew Storen RHP
Chris Sale LHP Neftali Feliz RHP
Daniel Bard RHP
Manager Coaching Staff
Joe Maddon Manny Acta Mike Maddux Dave Duncan
Davey Lopes Tom Foley Rudy Jaramillo

Feel free, as always, to disagree, and if you have the time and inclination, leave your own team in the comments. I just hope it doesn’t take you as long to figure out as it did me.


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