If I were starting a major league baseball team right now, and could choose whom I want of all the players available, I would look at the situation analytically.
I wouldn’t just jump out and pick all the young dudes, hoping for years and years of excellence. Nor, would I pick all of those who are over 35 so I could win three or four years and run out of gas.
I would take a long look and get a mixed bag of youth and experience.
So, these may or may not be the best players in the Western Hemisphere, however they will not fall very short of any yardstick with which they would be measured.
Let’s take a look and see what I would do.
Catcher — Joe Mauer – Minnesota Twins – $10,500,000
He is 26 years old, big, strong, very little question about this position
First Base – Albert Pujols – St. Louis Cardinals – $14,427,326
Pujols is 29 years old. Best combination of youth and experience. Best player in baseball. Shout out to Ryan Howard and Mark Teixeira.
Second Base – Chase Utley – Philadelphia Phillies – $11,285,714
He is 30 years old, in his prime. Great combination of power, average and defense. Honorable Mentions to Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Brandon Phillips and Aaron Hill.
Third Base – David Wright – New York Mets – $7,750,000
Wright is 26 years old, still a baby. I can’t explain where his power went this year, but he averaged almost 32 home runs for the past two seasons. 300+ hitter, great for years to come. Apologies to Michael Young, Brandon Inge and Chipper.
Shortstop – Hanley Ramirez – Florida Marlins – $5,500,000
He is 25 years old and there’s nothing he can’t do. Second best player in the game. C’est la vie to Derek Jeter and Jimmy Rollins.
Left Field – Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers – $1,032,500
Braun is 25 years old, powerful, excellent outfielder. Former ROY and hasn’t disappointed. Head nod to Jason Bay, Manny Ramirez and Raul Ibanez.
Center Field – Josh Hamilton – Texas Rangers – $555,000
He is only 28 years old, seems like he should be 35. Great range, good power and excellent eye. Salutes to Grady Sizemore and Carlos Beltran.
Right Field – Ichiro – Seattle Mariners – $18,000,000
He is 35—one of the elder statesmen of the team. Simply put, the best pure hitter in baseball. Great defense. Best hitter in either hemisphere. Apologies to Nick Markakis, Andre Ethier and Brad Hawpe.
Designated Hitter – Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers – $14,383,049
Is he really only 26 years old? He is always good for 30 HR, 110 RBI and .300+ average. His defense is lousy, but since when do you play defense as a DH? Apologies to nobody.
SP – Tim Lincecum – San Francisco Giants – $650,000
Lincecum is 25 years old and the No. 1 pitcher in baseball. Reigning CY winner. Hard to tell how many CY awards he will win.
SP – Roy Halladay – Toronto Blue Jays – $14,250,000
Halladay is 32—one of the elders, he may have been the best on the trading block, but he is a half-step behind Lincecum, mostly due to age. Former CY winner.
SP – C.C. Sabathia – New York Yankees – $15,285,714
He is 28 years old and it seems like we have been talking about him for 10. Former CY winner.
SP – Johan Santana – New York Mets – $18,876,139
Santana is 30 years old, has great experience, enough arm left for six or seven more years. Two-time CY winner.
SP – Josh Beckett – Boston Red Sox – $11,166,666
Beckett is 29 years old and very good. I don’t like him, but I can’t hold that against him. He is one you would want on your side.
SU – John Papelbon – Boston Red Sox – $6,250,000
Papelbon is 28 years old. Again, I really don’t like him, but what can I say? Behind Rivera he is probably the best out there.
CL – Mariano Rivera – New York Yankees – $15,000,000
Rivera is 39, the old man on the squad. I can’t help it, I will take him and use him like a rented mule. The best reliever to ever play in MLB.
There you have it. A team to die for. Wouldn’t it be something to see them play against somebody?
Salaries from ESPN.com
Player information from Baseball-Reference.com
© 2009 Clifton Eastham
All Rights Reserved
By Cliff Eastham
BR Writer/SJ Contributing Author