Well, hopefully everyone enjoyed the All-Star Game festivities from Minnesota over the past few days. It was wonderful to see the Yankees’ Captain, Derek Jeter, finish off his 14th and final All-Star appearance in grand fashion, with a 2-for-2 night that helped the American League win for the second straight year. You have to give credit to Red Sox manager John Farrell, for he handled Jeter, and the spotlight surrounding the future Hall of Famer, perfectly.
The Yankees enter the second half of play in contention–for both the AL East title and the final wild card spot, with a disappointing record of 47-47. They sit five full games back of first place Baltimore, and 3 1/2 games out of the final wild card slot. Sure, Baltimore and Toronto also have their issues, but let’s focus on the Yankees for this discussion.
The starting rotation has been decimated by injuries. The latest, being to rookie ace Masahiro Tanaka, whom if you are a betting man, bet that the term Tommy John procedure will be coming in about five weeks. We know that C.C. Sabathia is most likely done, along with Ivan Nova, and the oft-injured, slow to recover Michael Pineda. The last man standing, is the old man, Hiroki Kuroda. Chase Whitley has done a nice job, but teams have figured him out. Shane Greene has been superb in two starts, but will he come back to Earth as well? Had it not been for a fielding error by Mark Teixeira in Cleveland, Brandon McCarthy would look like a godsend right now.
So what do the Yankees do to make a run in the second half? They need to make some savvy, cost-effective moves that 1. don’t rob the farm system of the few legitimate prospects they have 2. give some of the youngsters a shot in the big leagues, and 3. don’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to deadline deals for quality upgrades.
I recently wrote about the Yankees’ interest in both Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels of the Phillies. The Yankees need to avoid emptying the farm and taking on my albatross money. Instead, go with affordable, quality trade targets such as Bartolo Colon of the Mets, and Ian Kennedy of the Padres. One last move…since he’s shooting through the farm system, with a recent promotion to Double-A Trenton, by mid-to-late August, it’s time to seriously consider giving Luis Severino a long look at the back end of the starting rotation. As David Wells always says…”Easy cheese.”
Instead of running Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts out to second base everyday, and continuing to get nothing in terms of offensive production, return Johnson to the bench, and utilize him as the super-utility guy he should be. While Roberts is hitting and healthy now, it won’t last. Ride the wave, and when he gets hurt, goes cold, or both, give him the Alfonso Soriano treatment, and DFA him. When the time comes, you debut Mr. Jose Pirela and leave him there to develop as the future second baseman. #PromotePirela.
As for the outfield, return Ichiro to his fourth outfielder status, and bring up the raking outfielder-turned-second baseman, Robert Refsnyder. The kid is hitting every level he plays at. He’s young, he has fresh legs, and like Pirela, could inject some much-needed energy and youth into an extremely old team. Speaking of youth, the Yankees can also DFA Matt Thornton, and promote 2014 draft selection, lefty Jacob Lindgren to the be situational guy out of the bullpen. The kid would be an immediate upgrade over an aging Thornton.
Well, that’s it. I predicted the Yankees to finish third in this division, miss the playoffs, and send Derek Jeter, much like his fellow Core Four teammates, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, off into the sunset minus a playoff appearance. The Yankees have limited options, but the options they do have, could breathe some new life into a roster of borderline stiffs.