Baseball's Best Players 35 and Over

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Experience, savvy, bad defense and Injury risks

<p> The best 25-man roster of players age 35 and older. Bad defense and lots of injury risks on this team.</p>

Last week we presented the best of the young guys — 25 and under. Now the old dudes. Needless to say this roster is one huge injury risk. As was the case with the 25-and-under list, I’m using Opening Day (April 4, 2012) as the cut-off. Players had to be at least age 35 on that day to qualify. I can’t tell how tempting it was to fudge on the age eligibility and include Carlos Beltran, who is 20 days too young, and Roy Halladay, who missed by 40 days. Doc immediately becomes this team’s ace next season.

Catcher
A.J. Pierzynski, Chicago White Sox

Last season was the first time A.J. spent any time on the DL in his career. Remarkable. So far this season, he’s batting better than .330. Easy to run on though.

First Base
Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox

He has played close to 2,000 games for the White Sox after both the Dodgers and Reds traded him. This is likely to be his third straight .300-30-100 season.

Second Base
Michael Young, Texas

Okay, crucify me now for taking some liberty here. But Placido Polanco? Jamey Carroll? Marco Scutaro? Jerry Hairston? Not much to choose from here. At least Young has played 433 games in his career at second base, and he can still hit like a 30-year-old. He made 14 starts there last season and three already in 2012.

Third Base
Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees

Clearly A-Rod is in decline, but he's still a feared hitter in the middle of one of the best lineups in baseball. And he's one of the guys on this team who isn't a liability on defense.

Shortstop
Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

There can be no argument here. Just when you think Jeter might be slowing down, he carries a .400 batting average into late April.

Left Field
Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs

He’s turned himself into an horrific outfielder and has some horrific holes in his swing. Other than that, the Cubs should be excited about the $54 million they owe him for 2012-14. Just nudges Carlos Lee off the team.

Center Field
Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels

Yes, I know he plays right field now, but I’m sure he can still handle himself quite well in center. No doubt he’s in decline though. He has yet to homer and has as many strikeouts as hits (19).

Right Field
Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle

Ichiro is not the same player that arrived in the States in 2001, but he’s borderline All-Star quality still. Having Ichiro and Jeter hit 1-2 (in some order) makes for good table setting.

Starting Pitchers
Tim Hudson, Atlanta

I know he’s been injured, but he appears to be healthy and ready to join the Braves’ rotation without a hitch. He can lead this staff.

Ted Lilly, Los Angeles Dodgers
He’s 2-0 with a sub-1.00 ERA and WHIP this season. While those trends won’t continue, he’s still a reliable No. 3 starter for the Dodgers.

Jamie Moyer, Colorado
Anyone who is older than me can have a spot on this roster. Sporting a 2.55 ERA can earn you a spot in the rotation.

Bronson Arroyo, Cincinnati
Last season looked like the end for Arroyo as he struggled mightily. But 2012 has brought new life with just two walks in 26.2 innings with a 2.70 ERA in a hitter’s park.

Bartolo Colon, Oakland
We have no idea what to make of Colon’s unbelievable comeback. He won a Cy Young and 21 games in 2005, but has won just 25 games since. But he’s allowed less than one base runner per inning this season over 34 frames. We’ll ride him until his arm falls off, then turn to Hiroki Kuroda.

Relief Pitchers
Scott Downs, Los Angeles Angels

Every bullpen needs two lefthanders. Downs limited left-handed hitters to a .179 average last season. I think that’s more indicative than his slow start this season.

Matt Thornton, Chicago White Sox
Opponents are batting .216 so far this season as the White Sox are asking him to get tough outs every night it seems.

Setup Men
Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay

Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey doesn’t get enough credit. From Soriano to Farnsworth and now Rodney, the Rays’ bullpen doesn’t seem to miss a beat. Not to mention Peralta and Benoit. So, we’re relying on Rodney in late innings in front of Mo.

Rafael Betancourt, Colorado
It was tempting to take Joe Nathan for this role, but Betancourt has proven to be consistent even in Colorado.

Closer
Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees

This may be the only position on the roster where the old guys have an advantage. We would rely on Rivera to save big games for us, no matter the age restrictions.

Bench
Chipper Jones, Atlanta

Chipper's knees just aren't responding well enough to keep him on the field. But he's a tremendous asset in selected spots off the bench. 

Jose Molina, Tampa Bay
As tempting as it was to turn to the recently retired Ivan Rodriguez, we decided to include only active players. Molina would be familiar with the backup role and capable of making starts for an extended period. And since his name is Molina, he is tough to steal against.

David Ortiz, Boston
Since this writer still refuses to recognize the designated hitter in my lineups, Ortiz would be a serious weapon coming off the bench.

Todd Helton, Colorado
Helton loses out to Konerko due to durability issues, but Helton gives the team some punch off the bench and is a solid defensive replacement for Konerko.

Lance Berkman, St. Louis
Rife with nagging injuries (but who on this team isn’t?), Berkman is a switch-hitter who still believes he can play the outfield. Truth is, he probably can as well, or better, than Soriano. Great guy in the clubhouse, just trouble keeping him healthy.

John McDonald, Arizona
Edging out Alex Gonzalez and Marco Scutaro, McDonald provides some defensive help off the bench.

Jerry Hariston, Jr., Los Angeles Dodgers
No matter who he plays for or what position he plays, Hairston contributes with his bat, glove and on the bases.


Will be Eligible Next Season
Jose Valverde, Detroit
Rafael Furcal, St. Louis
Carlos Beltran, St. Louis
Roy Halladay, Philadelphia

- Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)

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