Riding out the first half

Kevin Goldstein's Top 11 Prospects
Outfield at the Stadium in poor shape
Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong, AP

With the season no longer young, it’s not uncommon to run back and see where this team stands compared to last year’s club, and why not? A World Championship team is the gold standard, and if the Yankees can replicate that success in any way this season, it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

As I’m sure you remember, the 2009 club really didn’t hit it’s stride until the second half, and quite honestly until August. They went to bed on night of August 1st having just lost three to the White Sox, losers of three of their last four, and just half a game up in the AL East. They then went out and won 12 of their next 13 games, and finished the season on a 41-17 tear that carried right into October.

Much like last season’s team at this time, the 2010 squad has yet to really hit it’s stride. Despite owning the best record and best run differential in the game, we haven’t seen this team fire on all cylinders just yet. At times the pitching has carried them, at times it’s been the hitting, at other times it’s been plain old luck. They’re a full game in up the division compared to last season’s two-and-a-half run deficit on July 1st, and even though they’ve scored 13 fewer runs, they’ll allowed 44 fewer as well.

At 47-30, the Yanks need to go 4-7 over the next week and a half to finish the first half with the same 51-37 record as last year. Of course, the 2009 squad went into the break with the sourest of tastes in their mouths, having just been swept at the hands of the Angels in Anaheim in a particularly frustrating fashion. After today’s series wrap up against the surging Mariners (they’ve won nine of 12), the Yanks will welcome the free-falling Blue Jays (9-17 in their last 28, so once again that early season talk about them being a contender has proven to be premature) to the Bronx for a weekend series before heading out on their final West Coast trip of the season. A three game set in Oakland (they’ve lost eight of ten) precedes a rematch with the Mariners in Seattle.

Both Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez will pitch in that four game set that closes out the first half, but I would assume playing in Safeco will keep guys like Michael Saunders from hitting the ball out of the park. Winning four of the next 11 games shouldn’t be tough considering the relatively light competition, and really the goal should be greater than that. The Yanks haven’t been in first place at the All Star break since 2004, so that’s the plan right now. Finish up strong, and start the second half in control of your own destiny with eight of their first 12 games against the Indians and Royals.

Yes, the Yanks do have some needs to address before the trade deadline. It’s painfully obvious that they need a designated hitter, or at the very least a platoon partner for the soon-to-return Marcus Thames because extended playing time has unsurprisingly exposed Frankie Cervelli as anything but a starting big leaguer. They need to shore up the bullpen, get A.J. Burnett straightened out (woo Dave Eiland!), manage Phil Hughes‘ workload, and figure out a way to get Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira performing up their lofty standards. And yet despite all of that, the Yankees are ahead of last year’s World Series winning pace.

It hasn’t been as easy as it was in the second half of 2009, but that’s okay. There’s no reason to expect this team to not improve in the second half, and that should scare the crap out of the rest of baseball.

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Kevin Goldstein's Top 11 Prospects
Outfield at the Stadium in poor shape
  • Nick

    The only thing I figure that won’t happen is Jeter “finding himself.” I think it’s becoming more and more clear that 2008 is more of his true talent level at this point, injury or no. He’ll continue to crater his way to a Tampa Approved 5/100 contract

    • Nick

      Also for the love of god they have to get new bench guys.

      And maybe send Cervelli down

      • tc

        Send Cervelli down. That’s some kind of attempt at humor?

        • Nick

          Yes, actually

      • jorge

        ….and you’re all going to die a sad, painful, and lonely death.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Our need for new bench guys is a bit overstated. We’ve only seen extended PT from marginal guys like Huffman/Russo/Peña/Golson/etc. due to injuries to Granderson, Gardner, Thames, Miranda, and Johnson (plus Randy Winn’s expulsion). Of those injured, most are either back healthy already or will be soon. Nick the Stick + Winn are the only probably permanent subtractions.

        Adding maybe one decent infielder or quasi-DH would be nice for flexibility, but we don’t need a massive overhaul.

        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUvg7Empjfg Captain Jack

          Randy Winn, Ramiro Pena, Greg Golson and Kevin Russo are probably below replacement level. Yeah, there’s a few guys that’ll come back, there’s a few guys who will hit better than they have, and there’s a few guys that’ll hit worse. I just feel that the Yankees need to make up for lost time and acquire an outfielder that plays his position and hits lefties well enough to substitute for Granderson or Gardner against tough lefties and hits righties well enough to to DH. Or an infielder that can play third to give Alex a day off here and there and hit at a respectable enough level to DH.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Yes, the Yanks do have some needs to address before the trade deadline. It’s painfully obvious that they need a designated hitter, or at the very least a platoon partner for the soon-to-return Marcus Thames…

    … or a quality backup infielder who could provide a net positive production at 3B, enabling us to play ARod more at DH and kill two birds with one stone.

    Like Jorge Cantu or Alberto Callaspo.

    • tc

      Posada is the DH, haven’t you noticed? Cervelli’s the catcher. Are we on the same page now? This is the 2010 season. Thames can help with DH when he’s healthy, but he must be kept away from the field. But these things are luxury items…

      WHAT WE MUST HAVE IS THE PITCHING TO STOP SUCKING. That’s it.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        A.) I’d like Posada to be the DH, but the further away from his injury he gets and the more Cervelli continues to not hit, the less that will be the chosen option. Cervelli will get PT during the rest of the year, but Posada will end up catching more games over the next 4 months than Cervelli will. Because this team won’t put up with Cervelli’s non-bat all year, not while Jorge is still on the team and has two functioning legs.

        The only thing that would truly make Jorge the solitary DH this season is if we acquire a replacement catcher, and there aren’t any of those on this market.

        B.) The pitching doesn’t suck. Two straight losses to a bad offense doesn’t mean our pitching is not still the balls. It is.

    • Tampa Yankee

      Jorge Cantu intrigues me but I think FL would ask for significant pieces in return. What are your thoughts?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        It all depends on where they’re at at the deadline. I doubt the Fish make any moves before then, and hopefully the market for Cantu might have shrunken as other teams would have made moves already.

        Tough to say.

        • Tampa Yankee

          Fair enough. I mean they are 8.5 out of the divison (7 WC) as of today and I really don’t see them making any sort run to get back in it but who knows what Loria and crew are thinking.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            I think they end up being far enough behind the Braves/Phillies/Mets (who all probably make a move or two to add pieces) that come July 31, they cut bait and move Cantu, Uggla, and probably a reliever or two.

            • steve s

              I’d be careful about Cantu. His resurgence seems to correlate with PED influence after his 2 lost years of 06/07 (and his severe facial acne is some physical evidence of something untoward going on).

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                Meh, I’m not gonna have him marry my daughter. I’m gonna have him play a little 2B/3B/DH for us in 2010 and then disappear forever into the wilderness of free agency.

                Hell, maybe he ends up a Type B and we even get a free sandwich pick for him. He’s projected to be one at the moment by Eddie Bajek.

                • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUvg7Empjfg Captain Jack

                  Eddie Bajek

                  You made that name up.

              • Jorge

                …or maybe it’s the strong Cuban coffee in Miami.

                What we’d want (maybe) is the type “probably good enough to start on a bad team, solid bench part on a contender” type of player that can step in without the steep loss of production that occurs now when Mr. Pena says hello in the lineup that we get every trading deadline. He may fit the bill, as would others. The key, as was said, was would acquiring the player cost more than an org. guy/non-prospect.

                I could live with a Huffman, Curtis, or Russo on the bench the rest of the year. Don’t know if I’d want that to be the extent of my bench, though.

                And our pitching is certainly the balls.

            • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUvg7Empjfg Captain Jack

              Cody Ross too…if they’re set on playing Mike Stanton and Coughlan everyday they really need a better CF than Ross. Since Zumaya broke is elbow throwing a pitch and Joe Nathan is out there’s plenty of teams looking for bullpen help, I think they’ll move two or three relievers.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUvg7Empjfg Captain Jack

      Jhonny Peralta anyone?

  • A.D.

    It’s painfully obvious that they need a designated hitter, or at the very least a platoon partner for the soon-to-return Marcus Thames because extended playing time has unsurprisingly exposed Frankie Cervelli as anything but a starting big leaguer.

    Will be interesting how the bats play out this year since there doesn’t appear to be that big bat a la Matt Holliday available

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      The Angels have checked into the condition of Carlos Delgado, who is making his way back from hip surgery and could return in six weeks, if all goes well.
      -By Mike Axisa [June 5, 2010]

      http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/carlos_delgado

      There’s also this guy.

  • Carcillo

    Fwiw, the Yankees were not swept in Chicago, as it was a four game series. Chicago won the first three, Yankees won the finale.

    Also, the Yankees record from August 1-October 4 was 41-18. 52-22 including the playoffs; ironically, their 2nd half record not counting the playoffs was…52-22.

    I also think it’s unfair to say they didn’t really hit their stride ‘in earnest’ until August. They were 13-5 from June 24 to the ASB, and 11-4 between the end of the break and July 31. That’s 24-9 overall. Pretty good, no?

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUvg7Empjfg Captain Jack

    Am I the only one who thinks it looks like DJ’s taking a shit in that pic?