The Final Game*


(Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

* Before the All-Star break, I mean.

The Yankees played their 81st game of the season a few days ago, but the first half unofficially comes to an end later tonight. Regardless of what happens in the series finale against the Red Sox, the Bombers will head into the All-Star break at least five games up in the division — seven up on the Rays, eight up on the Sox — and with no worse than the second best record in baseball. It’s a pretty great spot to be in.

Obviously the Yankees have their warts, just like every other team. The runners in scoring position stuff is starting to work itself out, but the bullpen is overworked and some significant players — specifically CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and Brett Gardner — are on the disabled list. Top prospects Manny Banuelos and Jose Campos are hurt while Dellin Betances has imploded, so they don’t have that high-end prospect to auction off in a midseason trade if needed.

We could spend all day picking the team apart and coming up with reasons to worry, but you can do about every sports team ever. For some reason sports fans tend to focus on shortcomings rather than just appreciate what things are. The Yankees have room to improve like everyone else but are already one of the best teams in the game, not like everyone else. They’re heading into the All-Star break with a relatively big lead despite all the RISPFAILs and injuries. They’re not perfect but they’re still great, and that’s pretty awesome.

Categories : Musings


  1. jjyank says:

    “We could spend all day picking the team apart and coming up with reasons to worry, but you can do about every sports team ever.”

    Except for the 1927 Yankees and the 2011 Red Sox, amirite?

    But seriously, totally agree with that last paragraph, Mike. I think it’s damn impressive how well the team has played over the last 6 weeks or so despite the RISPFAIL, injuries, and a couple of guys underperforming. All of that against 31 straight games against teams over .500, going 22-9. Hopefully the All-Star Break allows everyone to take a step back from the day-to-day rigors of hardcore fandom and appreciate where the Yankees are right now.

  2. The Moral Majority is Neither says:

    What’s the biggest room in the world?

    The room for improvement.

  3. Ralph says:

    I thought it was room for bandwagon haters….

    Seriously, so many people (not here but elsewhere) just read one or two reports on the often negative New York press and they start panicking, asking for the firing of Cashman and/or crying for a big trade.

    Change a few words in that last part and you get the description of like 70% of every fan base.

  4. The Scheister of Doom says:

    I have high hopes for this team moving forward. If the HRs tail off, hopefully that’s in lieu of better RISP numbers. Also, maybe it’s a blessing in disguse Campos and ManBan are hurt, as they can’t be traded. Same with Mo, maybe it happened for a reason, so Sori opts out after the season after showing he can still close they can spend that 13M on a bat. I try to practice the technique of positive visualization, sometimes in game threads I fight with that still.

  5. Gonzalo Hiram says:

    We still have Williams, Sanchez and Austin in case a trade is needed

    • jjyank says:

      True, but guys in A ball don’t have nearly the value that a high end prospect in AAA would have. As much as I love those guys, there’s still a lot of time for something to go wrong with them.

      Useful prospects, both for the future and potential trades, but I doubt a high impact guy like Hamels or Greinke gets traded for guys in A ball.

      • JohnnyC says:

        Adrian Gonzalez got traded for Casey Kelly.

        • Pat D says:

          And Anthony Rizzo.

          Who was then traded for Andrew Cashner.

          Hmm. Point taken.

        • jjyank says:

          Most of the time that doesn’t happen though. High end guys like that are far more often traded for Matt LaPorta, Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero type prospects.

        • Preston says:

          Casey Kelly was special. Not only was he going to be able to be the best pitcher ever, because he was going to be able to field from the mound like Ozzie Smith, he was also going to be the starting SS on his off days.

  6. Rich in NJ says:

    With the age on this team, I would be very reluctant to make any trades involving big prospects for anything less than an Upton-like talent.

  7. yooboo says:

    Every time I watch Mike Trout play, I heartily hate Mark Teixeria. That means I wont watch the Angels series.

    I was wondering how much will Jacoby Ellsbury ask for a long contract. He has been missing a big chunk of a year twice already. Since Yanks may lose Swisher and/or Granderson after this season. Investing in Ellusbury may be a smart move because he does hit for average which Granderson never does.

    Yanks could trade Granderson for a veteran starting pitcher after Yanks possibly lose both veterans in Pettitte and Kuroda to retirement.

    If everything goes right including Ellusby’s acceptable price, Yanks could bring Swisher back for right price or try to set up a package for Justin Upton if Dbacks did not trade him during this season.

    Ellsbury will lock in batting 2nd. Upton or Swisher should bat 6th. This 2013 lineup could challenge the Yankees 1927.

    • Pat D says:

      Every time I watch Mike Trout play, I heartily hate Mark Teixeria. That means I wont watch the Angels series.

      I’m sorry, but this is utterly stupid. You do realize that if the Yankees hadn’t signed Teixeira, that pick was going to Milwaukee instead, right?

      • Mike Axisa says:

        Even they didn’t sign Sabathia, Teixeira, and Burnett, the Angels still would have picked ahead of the Yankees.

        • OMG! Bagels! says:

          And without those three, no WS.

        • yooboo says:

          Angels picked similar one but a slow development prospect ahead of Trout. Trout fell hard because NJ/NY area production despite of high humanly baseball skill sets.

          • RetroRob says:

            They valued Trout more highly and, as noted below, have said they would have taken Trout with their first pick if they didn’t have the two picks.

      • yooboo says:

        Based on hard result, Angels owned Yankees’ 25th spot where Mike Trout fell onto.

        If Brewers took Trout with that spot then I would hate Sabby instead.

        It was not about Yankees sacrificing their 25th spot. It was about Mike Trout’s unbelievable availability for that spot.

        • Pat D says:

          Hating Sabathia would be stupid, too.

        • RetroRob says:

          …but that’s not what you said. You said you “heartily hate Mark Teixeria” because of Mike Trout. People were simply pointing out the Yankees were never going to get Mike Trout, even if they hadn’t signed Teixeira.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            Somehow connecting Mark Teixeira to Mike Trout should be enough proof to someone that they have too much time on their hands. Really.

            There’s being a baseball geek and then there’s that.

          • yooboo says:

            Mark Teixeria is a fallen guy in my mind.

            Yankees’ 25th, Mark Teixeria and Mike Trout are all connected.

            My “hate” for Teixeria is more likely a ghost’s boo than throwing a boulder onto Teixeria’s head.

    • Jacob says:

      There was just about no possible way we would have gotten Trout

    • Brian S. says:

      Bringing back Swisher would be dumb.

    • Need Pitching (and maybe hitting too) says:

      If the Yankees trade Granderson, who is filling out the OF next season until the Yankees wait for Ellsbury to become a free agent?

      • yooboo says:

        I left a tiny part out. If Red Sox let Ellsbury walk to avoid a possibility to pay 10 plus million or more. This year he makes 8 million if I remember correctly.

        After that, follow up the sequence.

        It is all theory.

        • Need Pitching (and maybe hitting too) says:

          Yeah, I seriously doubt they non-tender Ellsbury. I could see them possibly trade him, but not just let him walk with no return.

          • yooboo says:

            trading him will count against luxury tax. Remember that damn Japanese southpaw Yanks were stuck with.

            • Need Pitching (and maybe hitting too) says:

              No, the salary he makes on another team counts towards the other team’s luxury tax. The only salary that would count toward the Red Sox luxury tax is salary the Red Sox actually paid Ellsbury.

              • yooboo says:

                My apologies for being lazy. Red Sox may have to pay portion on Ellsbury to get a good prospect or two.

                To think how many teams will be okay to take the rest of Ellsbury’s leftover contract of this year AND lose two good prospects at the same time? I don’t think so.

                So it is a good chance that Ellsbury’s payment will be added to Red Sox’s payroll.

                Let Ellsbury walk after this year may be helpful for 2013 season. Right now, I am not sure what pace in payroll is Red Sox currently on. If it is way over the threshold then trading Ellsbury will not make any relief on luxury tax.

                Ellsbury and Igawa are different stories because Igawa had about 2 or 3 years left on contract and Yanks would pay half to another team for taking him. Ellsbury is facing for arb salary with no buyout option. How much did Red Sox actually pay him so far is unknown so it is a good chance Red Sox could not escape the luxury tax on trading Ellsbury.

                No matter what people say, after half season is played, Ellsbury payment will always be on the payroll and it would be miraculous if Red Sox only pay him a total 2m this year.

                • Need Pitching (and maybe hitting too) says:

                  Ellsbury is hurt now. If he was traded, it would be in the offseason. I would imagine if Ellsbury comes back healthy this season, some team would be able and willing to pick up his entire arb. salary next year. The Red Sox might pick up some of the pay if it resulted in a bigger return, but I would imagine they would accept having him count for maybe a couple million on their luxury tax payroll as being worth the trade return. The only possible way I see the Sox non-tendering Ellsbury would be if he had an injury that was definitely going to keep him out for most of next year, in which case the Yankees wouldn’t be interested anyways.

                  I have no idea what you’re talking about in that last sentence.

            • G says:

              …. Who dropped you on your head? Seriously this has got to be the most uninformed series of comments I’ve read on here. Igawa was not traded and trades do not count haunts the luxury tax….

              • yooboo says:

                my head? It must be yours.

              • Deep Thoughts says:

                He was explaining why they buried him in the minors forever instead of trading him. Nobody would have traded for Igawa without the Yankees paying some (let alone most) of his salary, which definitely would count against he luxury tax.

    • RetroRob says:

      Not to dump on Ellsbury, but there’s a bunch of issues around him playing for the Yankees. First, he won’t be a free agent until 2014 when he’s 30, and keep in mind that he’s missed substantial time in two of the last three seasons due to injury, posting .192/.241/.244 and .192/.300/.269 lines in a non-existent number of ABs. Health is a skill, which is why some players like Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher play 150 games a season, while other players always seem to be coming up injured. Sandwiched in between his .192 lines was his great 2011 season, which can best be described as a UFO year since he hit more HRs in 2011 than he did in his other seven years of professional baseball combined. He didn’t show any home/road splits in 2011, but for career his OPS is 90 points higher at Fenway than everywhere else. There were grumblings in 2010 that he wasn’t trying hard to come back from his injury. He’s also regarded as aloof and one of the players that caused the Red Sox club house problems last year because of his interactions, or lack there of, with his teammates. I take the last part with a grain of salt. For all we know he’s the one sane person on the team trying to distance himself from the loons and he’s pissed off at his teammates for basically labeling him a malingerer. Yet there’s enough smoke around him to be worried about a fire, and knowing that the Yankees in recent years also scout players based on their character, well he has some issues to overcome.

      Unless he can repeat to some degree his 2011 season, I view him as a .290/.340/.420 15 HR player away from Fenway. Certainly has value, but he’s represented by Scott Boras, which means he’ll want a a lot of money for many, many years, something that should certainly give pause as he’ll be in his 30s.

      As for Trout, don’t bother worrying. The Angels had back-to-back picks, one as comp for Teixeira, yet they’ve already said they knew the Yankees were scouting Trout and would have taken him with their first pick if they didn’t have the supplemental pick. The Yankees were never going to get him. Their next chance will be in about five years when they can pay him and Bryce Harper about $500 million to come play for the Yankees!

      • yooboo says:

        Ellsbury is due for arb after this season but Red Sox may let him go in order to reduce the luxury tax. I presumably labeled Ellsbury as a free agent.

        The key thing with Ellsbury is his health. If his health is about 90 percentage for next 5 years then his production would be overkill. That is an uneasy gamble, I agree.

        New CBA and luxury tax rules may limit Boras’ aggressiveness in money. However, he is almost full package CF (minus arm strength) as he will commit to big bucks. What if his contract is more acceptable than Granderson’s would be extension. It is a guesswork.

        I knew Yanks had zero chance to land Trout as Yanks went ahead and focused on 2nd round value in Shade Healthcott. It is just a mind obsession.

        • Pat D says:

          Wow, that last statement is just wrong, as others have pointed out.

          • yooboo says:

            Huh? I am not wrong.

            Yanks owned 25th and 29th and Mike Trout was projected to be top 15. Lost 25th spot to FA signing. 29th was set for a conservative approach as Yanks had fixed on Healthcott.

            That situation was occurred prior to the 2009 draft. How the fuck could it be wrong?

            As for mind obsession, I was amazed how Trout fell that far. I kept questioning myself what if he fell onto 29th slot. Yanks would grab him instead of Heathcott in a second. Trout was happened to be taken at 25th, the spot that was formerly owned by Yankees.

            • Pat D says:

              The Yanks lost the 25th pick long before the draft. There was no way to know that Trout was going to fall to 25th when they signed Teixeira back in December of 2008. And, again, they still wouldn’t have had the 25th pick because they signed Sabathia and Burnett.

        • RetroRob says:

          Rest your obsession on this one. : -) There are plenty of other things the Yankees have done which did turn out wrong. It comes with the territory. Trout is not one of them. They just weren’t going to get him, although I guess we should give the scouting department some credit since it appears that the Angels and the Yankees were the two teams that truly did recognize his ability to be worthy of a #1 pick.

          • yooboo says:

            I can’t rest because when you watch him play like superman, it is really annoying that he is not a Yankee. lol.

            To be fair, I don’t remember Yanks had succeeded to develop any prospects from cold weather prone area into a solid MLB player. Eric Duncan and Cito Culver to be named. So I am not sure if Trout would succeed as a Yankee like he is as an Angel.

            I should research on all prospects coming from the NE and northern MA. Right now, I feel like Mike Trout is only one.

            • Robinson Tilapia says:

              The Yankees can only field 25 players at a time. Great players are very often NOT going to play for the New York Yankees.

              That being said, no one can stop you from being annoyed at whatever you’d like.

            • RetroRob says:

              I agree it’s annoying in the sense the Yankees were one of the few teams that recognized his ability and were set to draft him. It’s rare to get that close to drafting a player of that caliber in the back-end of the first round. Certainly great players, HOF players get drafted past the first round, but in most cases I’d guess they were more raw, more development required. In Trout’s case, he an impact player from the start, and should have been one of the top two players in the entire draft. (It was either him or Strasburg).

              Yet they no chance to get him. I’d be more upset if I was a fan of the White Sox, who picked OFer Jared Mitchell right prior to the Angels two picks. Every other team but Washington could be questioning their decision! The Yankees aren’t one of them.

              There have been good players from the NE, but it certainly helps in development and scouting to play in the warmer weather areas. If I remember correctly, the weather in the tri-state region was very bad in Trout’s draft year, preventing many of the other teams from getting a good read on him. They knew he was talented (let’s not lose track of the fact he still was a #1 pick), but they just didn’t get to see him as much as the Yankees and the Angels. It was kind of a perfect storm (no pun intended) of events that led him to drift lower.

  8. pistol pete says:

    Threw away a game last night and have given the Red Sox a glimmer of hope if they get a split but still can’t be discouraged with a five game lead at the break playing without the teams best two starters the last couple weeks. Moving ahead and preparing for the 2nd half and playoffs I don’t see Wade, McDonald, or Nix making it past the trade deadline. We need a better defensive middle infielder as the dog days will wear on Jeter and Cano, I’ve got no idea why we msde the McDonald experiment, and Wade unfortunately has rendered himself useless. Joba will provide bullpen depth sometime in late August. Will bve interesting to see if Cashman thinks we need a starter.

  9. Brian S. says:

    Zach McAllister is a beast. Good thing Austin Kearns was so useful.

    • Pat D says:

      Against a lineup with two guys hitting over .250, sure.

    • RetroRob says:

      A beast? He has a career MLB ERA of 4.6 and a career minor league ERA of 3.5. Just another one of the many fungible back-end types the Yankees have developed in recent years. He wouldn’t be making the Yankees rotation in the AL East beyond spot starts like Warren, Phelps, Mitchell, etc.

      • Preston says:

        Yes that’s true, but that is still more value than half a season of Austin Kearns. It was a bad trade at the time and it’s a bad trade now, but we won the WS so I won’t complain too much.

        • Pat D says:

          Actually, we didn’t win the WS that year.

          Also, it wasn’t really a bad trade at the time because McAllister had a bad year in 2010. They sold low because he regressed.

          • RetroRob says:

            Right. To me it’s an irrelevant trade. The Yankees were looking for a piece that might be able to help them down the stetch. Looking back two years later and seeing that Kearns didn’t help the Yankees win a World Series and McAllister is now pitching for the Cleveland F’ing Indians is meaningless. The Yankees have plenty of McAllister-like pitchers and ultimately the Yankees are going to have to trade most of them too to make room for the next crop in the lower minors.

            Phelps, Warren and Mitchell should not be in the plans to be one of the starting five for the Yankees. Maybe one of them is good enough. Maybe. Their value is they are there to be used as needed, but the team should not hesitate to trade one for a player that can help them in the stretch run, or package them together as part of a bigger deal. Yet don’t be losing sleep over them when their pitching for some second-division club.

            • Robinson Tilapia says:

              Why shouldn’t one of them be in the plans to be in the starting five for the Yanks? If they project as back-end guys, you need back-end guys for your, er, back end.

              I think we all hold out some hope, from what we’ve seen from Phelps, that he can be one of those guys that exceeds expectations.

              Nothing wrong with those three.

              As for ZMac, I’ll say again: You can only carry 25 guys on your team at the same time. I’m glad he’s had some good starts two/three after we traded him. Other than that, I really don’t give a rat’s ass, and I don’t think Austin Kearns contributed a whole lot.

              • RetroRob says:

                What I was indirectly implying is as fans we shouldn’t get so wrapped up in these back-end types since they can be replaced. If a situation pops up where Phelps (or one of these guys) is in the rotation, then all well and fine. That’s what they are there for and why they are great to have. Yet if they can move him to help the team in another area, then I’m fine with that too.

                I don’t believe Phelps, Warren or Mitchell are better than what was the starting five before CC’s and Pettitte’s injuries. If Nova and Phelps are the #4 and #5′s in the roation, I wouldn’t be looking to replace either one with one of the three AAA pitchers. It’s great to have them and to use as needed. I’m much more interested in getting Banuelos back from his sore elbow and hopefully an effectice Pineda from his shoulder surgery. The two of them offer more hope to the Yankees rotation than the maybe back-end guys.

                • Robinson Tilapia says:

                  All I’m saying is that, as Nova has exceeded expectations thus far, any of these guys could, and Phelps actually shows some, albeit very small, signs that he could.

                  In the end, Pineda’s returning from shoulder surgery and Banuelos has never pitched a big league inning. For me, it’s been about having solid cost-controlled starters. It doesn’t matter to me who they wind up being.

                  In other words, somewhere we agree.

    • Crime Dog says:

      He wasn’t going to see the majors with the Yankees. Its the way the system works.

    • Deep Thoughts says:

      Oh for Pete’s sake. Let’s just grind all the axes at once and put together the 2012 All-Bit-Player-Pieces-That-Cashman-Let-Get Away Team. Here are my nominees:

      SP: IPK
      SP: Quintana
      SP: Karstens
      SP: Ohlendorf/McAllister
      SP: A.J. Burnett
      RP: Jose Veras
      CL: T-Clip

      1B: Jorge Vazquez (now mashing for the…Tigres de Quintana Roo)
      2B: The Attorney General
      3B: Wilson Betemit
      SS: Cody Ransom
      OF: Austin Jackson
      OF: Justin Maxwell
      OF: Jose Tabata
      DH: Tie (Damon/Matsui)

  10. RI$P FTW says:

    Axisa is doing all the heavy lifting these days. Even the obvious weekend fluff pieces.

  11. Brian S. says:

    Vicente Padilla accused Mark Teixeira of hating Latinos and said he should play a “womans sport.”


  12. NYCSPORTZFAN says:

    I think people worry about the Warts more so on the yanks, because fans tend to think of the playoffs with the yanks, and we’ve only 1, one WS since 2000, which is fine, compared to other teams, but the yanks are the cream of any sports team in any sport.. We’ve been knocked outta the post season enough to realize these warts tend to really show themselves with the yanks for somereason come postseason time, more so then other teams it seems..

    So if theres any way to fix those warts at the deadline or with a prospect coming up, its usually talked about..

    Hopefully Joba comes back this yr, because i think that’d be a huge help in its own right.. Having Joba for the 6th-7th area, is awesome, especially if all the rest on his arm, can get some of that blazing heat back..

    • Brian S. says:

      There is no recipe for postseason luck.

      • Brian S. says:

        *postseason success

        • RetroRob says:

          The recipe for postseason success is luck. : -)

          The more rounds of playoffs that get added the more difficult to win it all. The 96-01 team is a rarity. We will probably never see a run like that again. Winning three straight (almost four) and four of five is as impressive, if not more, than the Yankee teams that won five straight, but did so without the extra rounds of playoffs.

          • jjyank says:

            Pretty much. All you can really ask for is a team built to make it to the playoffs year after year, and that’s what we have, and have had every year in recent memory except for 2008.

            Most World Series champs are teams that got hot at the right time and got lucky. Very often, it’s not the best team on paper. Cardinals last year, Giants in 2010, the list goes on. Even that mediocre Rockies team made it all the way to the World Series in 2007 and beat superior Dodgers and Phillies teams along the way.

  13. Brian S. says:

    Is Austin Jackson a true .400 BABIP player? I mean son of a bitch.

  14. Paul VuvuZuvella says:

    Dempster is healthy again and pitched well today against the Mets.

  15. Robinson Tilapia says:

    No matter how well your favorite team is doing, you’ll always sit there and think about how and where you can tinker to make them just a bit better. I think that’s only natural.

    There’s a difference between that, though, and never being satisfied. Up by five games? Well, why aren’t you up by ten?! Took two of three? Why didn’t you sweep?!?! Why isn’t this guy, this guy, and this guy on the Yanks?! That’s always when things get a bit silly.

    There will always be a bit of truth to “WE’RE THE YANKEES,” as there really is a different expectation that goes with the most successful franchise in sports. However, no matter what, and as my other favorite sports team (MBW can tell you who they are, if you don’t know) showed, no matter the cast, you take nothing for granted. Whatever the cast is, you still have to win the games.

  16. hogsmog says:

    I love how Mike Lupica hasn’t written a word about the Yankees in like two months.

    • LiterallyFigurative says:

      The Yankees don’t exist when they are winning.

    • RetroRob says:

      I hadn’t noticed that, but then again, I try not to notice Mike Lupica. It is a good thing.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Talks about them on the radio almost daily.

      Mike Lupica/Yankee jokes probably stopped being relevant about 20 years ago. I think he’s been pretty fair since. He writes for a rag. What can I say?

      • Crime Dog says:

        Mike Lupica stopped being relevant about 20 years ago. There, fixed it for you.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          I don’t mind the radio show. Lupica and Kay tearing down poor Don LaGreca for hours day is just fine as background noise at work.

  17. Kevin says:

    Chris Perez managed to implode against the Rays,so now they are only 5.5 games behind us.

  18. dalelama says:

    This is a nice little team built to dominate in the regular season and collapse in the post season.

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