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Picks of the litter

Ten players are the foundation for my perfect team

Posted: Thursday June 28, 2007 11:31AM; Updated: Thursday June 28, 2007 2:40PM
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Between his sublime defense and his assertive offense, Jose Reyes is the type of talent around which title teams are built.
Between his sublime defense and his assertive offense, Jose Reyes is the type of talent around which title teams are built.

I recently asked 14 baseball executives and experts to name the five players they'd choose to start their team, and the experts appeared to have so much fun with the exercise that I thought I'd try it myself.

Of course, I had a few advantages. Most of my experts spent about 10 minutes on the task and did very little research, and all 14 named their players without the benefit of hearing the choices of others.

I took all the advantages. I used two weeks. I looked stuff up. And I heard what the experts had to say.

I told the 14 experts -- who included GMs, assistant GMs, scouting directors, scouts and one current player with Hall-of-Fame credentials -- that their goal was to start a team with five players, picked in order, that would win the World Series this year and in future years. My goal would be the same.

So, without further ado, here are my first five draft choices, in order:

1) Johan Santana, Twins starting pitcher. Every staff needs an ace, and he's mine, hands down. He's left-handed, he's a strikeout artist and he dominates, and he does all this in the hitters league.

2) Alex Rodriguez, Yankees third baseman. So he's had a couple bad games in October. Under a microscope, he's still by far the most productive offensive player in baseball. I'd also like the real all-time home-run champ on my roster.

3) Jose Reyes, Mets shortstop. He can do it all, and that includes scaring the bejesus out of opposing pitchers and catchers. Defensively, no one's better.

4) Justin Verlander, Tigers starting pitcher. The no-hit kid hit 102 on the gun in the ninth inning of that gem, an eye-popping number scouts won't soon forget. Along with Jim Palmer, he's one of two pitchers in 95 years to throw a no-hitter and start Game 1 of the World Series by age 25.

5) Vladimir Guerrero, Angels right fielder. I want power, and I want a guy who can't be pitched to. A brilliant hitter who doesn't need protection, yet he'll get it here from A-Rod.

Since this is my poll, and I make the rules, I'll take a second five, too.

6) Albert Pujols, Cardinals first baseman. I like that right-handed power, don't I? Intense and a champion. Can't resist.

7) Roy Oswalt, Astros starting pitcher. A consistent dominator who's been generally overlooked (and he was by my panel, as well).

8) Francisco Rodriguez, Angels closer. I want a dominant young closer, and Jonathan Papelbon has that little injury question about him.


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