Ken Singleton weighs in – Part 2

(YES Network)
(YES Network)

Last week, we spoke to YES Network broadcaster and former All-Star Ken Singleton about all things Alex Rodriguez, from his looming suspension to his legacy and everything in between. This time we’re going to cover the trade deadline and some moves/non-moves, and in part three tomorrow we’ll tackle some other “state of the Yankees” topics.

Matt Warden: One of the big stories we’ve covered extensively here at RAB was the trade deadline.  I think the Yankees had an opportunity, a really important opportunity actually, to either raise the white flag and try and move guys like Hiroki Kuroda, Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, or even Robinson Cano with the idea of retooling for the future, or they could have gone the other route and done whatever it took to compete this season.  Looking back, it seems the team managed to do very little.  Sure, they grabbed Alfonso Soriano, but I wonder if that was too little too late.  Do you think they showed the right amount of activity at the deadline or would you have preferred them to do something more dramatic?

Ken Singleton:  Well, of course everyone would like to see the team improve and Brian Cashman is in the business of improving the Yankees.  I’m sure he was on the phone talking to people, but maybe what they were offering was not, in his eyes, good enough.  Or, maybe other teams wanted too much [for their guys].  We’ve seen how Joba’s slid down the list in the bullpen as far as importance, but maybe the Yankees felt he’s more important [then his selling price would indicate].  Was Joba more important to another team, and they could have offered more, but they just didn’t?

Same with Phil Hughes.  Although he’s going to be a free agent, you still need somebody to pitch today and tomorrow.  I’m not one to just unload guys just to unload them.  I think you look to make your team better, whether it’s in future prospects or getting decent prospects from a team, and if the prospects from another team aren’t good enough — we weren’t involved in these phone conversations and Brian Cashman was — and if he didn’t think it was good enough, they aren’t good enough.  You just go with what you got.  I’m sure Cashman was trying.  I’m sure other teams were calling about some of his players. I’m sure he inquired about players on other teams, but if things don’t happen, it just doesn’t happen.  That’s why when players get injured managers say someone else on the team will have to step up.  It’s not like everyone out there is feeling sorry for you.  That’s not going to happen, particularly not with the Yankees.

MW:  The Yankees have been pretty depleted with right-handed power.  What did you think about the Alfonso Soriano move?

KS: I’m kind of glad they got them.   At least he’s a player who hits right handers and has some power.  Yankee fans know him.  He’s been here before.  I think Vernon Wells hasn’t hit a home run since May.  They had to do something.  If Vernon had been producing like he was earlier in the season, I don’t think Soriano would be here right now but the fact is that Vernon Wells hasn’t provided power for the last several months and they had to do something or risk being shut out every time by left handed pitchers.

MW: True.  Travis Hafner has been pretty ineffective for a while too which was certainly part of the problem.

KS: Yeah, both he and Wells started going downhill around the same time.  Wells has been a little more effective than Hafner lately, prior to his injury.  Plus Wells can do more things.  Hafner’s job is basically just to hit and he hasn’t been doing it.  And now he’s on the DL because his shoulder’s bothering him I guess.  Neither one has really done much since May.

MW: At least with Wells, he’s being utilized more appropriately now.

KS: Yeah, he’s not being played not on an everyday basis.  They couldn’t do that early in the year because there was no one else, and now Joe Girardi can slot him in against pitchers he’s done well against in the pass.  Defensively, he’s fine.  He’s made some throws from the outfield that have gotten guys out at the plate.  He’s a very good base runner and he hustles.  He just hasn’t hit like the Vernon Wells we saw with the Blue Jays.  He basically hasn’t been the same guy since leaving Toronto, and that’s unfortunate because he was one of the better players in the league at the time.

MW:  Getting back to the deadline and Cashman’s efforts, I think you’re right to some extent.  It’s been publicized now that the Yankees inquired into players like Carlos Ruiz or Michael Young, and those offers simply weren’t happening which was fine…

KS: Matt, let me say this.  One thing that may hinder trades is the extra wild card spot.

MW: Agreed.

KS: Yeah, I think that kind of slows down the trade market because teams maybe feel “we’re not totally out of it.”  “We’re not totally giving up on our players.  If we get a couple of guys healthy, we can make a run and make the playoffs” and once you get in, who knows what’s going to happen.

MW: Is that naive thinking by teams in some cases though?

KS: No, but I think it affects the Yankees.  I think it affects all the other teams in Major League Baseball too, hot or not.  If you’re going to deal with a team that’s low and out of it, low in the standings and out of it, maybe you can pry someone away from them.  But even the Phillies, maybe they’re thinking “Ah, maybe we’ve got a shot.”

MW: I’m sure that’s definitely true to some extent, and I’m sure it definitely applied to the Yankees this year.  Do you think they should be thinking along these lines though?  The Yankees are an older team and when you really weigh their options, even if they somehow reach the playoffs this year, how good of a chance do they have now, and especially going forward?  As for the Phillies, is it really worth keeping a guy who’s 36 years old like Michael Young when they could potentially get a solid prospect in return in a seller’s market, rather than risking the likely reality of missing the postseason with another aging veteran?

KS: Okay, but if you’re a team like the Phillies, who draw very well, or you’re a team like the Yankees who draw pretty well, and all of a sudden you get rid of all your players, it’s like telling your fans, “don’t show up for the rest of regular season.”  That’s it, we’ve given up on this year.  That’s not a good thing if you ask me.  I think you want to show everyone that you’re still trying and you still believe in everyone you have.  I don’t know what the Yankees offered the Philadelphia Phillies.  Nobody does, and I just feel things happen or they don’t happen for a reason; and if the trades weren’t made, it’s because they weren’t there.  It’s as simple as that.  It’s not like they didn’t try hard enough.  It’s just that it didn’t work.

MW:  Fair enough.  Speaking of GMs, I know GM Mike Rizzo recently enjoyed a promotion to something of the effect of President, something comparable to a Theo Epstein type of gig.

KS: Got an extension too.

MW: Yeah, that’s correct.  Do you think that’s what’s in store for Brian Cashman once the season concludes?

KS: I have no idea what the Yankees have in mind for him.  I think his title right now suits him just fine.  He’s the General Manager of the Yankees.  That title still carries a lot of weight.  Now if they want to give him a promotion to something else, I’m sure he’d consider it and he’d probably accept it.  But his job right now is, I think, all he can handle at the moment to be honest with you.

MW: [Laughs] So this leads me to a sensative topic, I suppose.  Do you think there is tension between him an ownership.  I feel like in the past year or so, he’s been much more vocal about, “yeah this trade was my idea” or “no, this move was not my preference.”  You heard this with Rafael Soriano.  You heard it again with Ichiro Suzuki, and most recently with Alfonso Soriano.  It’s almost like he’s distancing himself from certain moves.  Recently folks heard him say something to the effect of “This was ownership’s doing.  Sure it makes the team better, but this wasn’t exactly my call” when asked about the Soriano trade.

KS: Well you know, he can voice his own opinion.  I mean, the ownership has the final call.  They’re the bosses and if he doesn’t like it, I give him credit for saying what’s on his mind.  I’m not saying that creates tension; maybe it’s just being honest with everybody.  Doesn’t seem to bother Hal Steinbrenner, because Brian Cashman’s still around.

MW: So we shouldn’t be reading anything further into this?

KS: I think honesty is the best policy.  You just say what you feel.  He probably mentioned it to Hal Steinbrenner to begin with.  He probably said, “Hey, I’m not in with this [move] but if you want me to do it, you’re the boss, and I will do it.”  If it goes public, it goes public.  I don’t see them going back at each other in the press.  They are just doing their jobs.  I have no problem with this.  You know, I played for Earl Weaver and he used to say to us, “You say what’s on your mind.  This is America.  You’re allowed to say what you want.  But you just better bet able to back it up.”  So I remember when he said that in the club house once, though I forgot the situation, but I began…

[briefly pauses]

You know, Earl was right.  This is America.  You say what you want.  You say what’s on your mind.  You just better be able to back it up.  That’s all.

MW: [Laughs]  I like that.  That’s … pretty frank.

KS: Yep.  And if you played for Earl, he said what was on his mind.

MW: I think that’s a fair point.  No one really knows what arrangement Cashman has with ownership regarding what he is or isn’t supposed to publicize (if there’s anything at all).  They may or may not have differences of opinion about baseball operations, but no one knows if that’s causing any grief in the day to day baseball administration.

KS: Nobody does.  You know what.  I’ve been married for 22 years and I don’t agree with my wife all the time.

MW: [Laughs]

KS: [Laughs] We co-exist.  You know.  That’s the nature of everything.  You learn to compromise on certain issues.

Pondering the fate of Curtis Granderson

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

I wrote about Phil Hughes’ upcoming contract yesterday*, and as I was writing it, I thought it might be fun to contemplate Curtis Granderson‘s future as well.  Specifically, I pondered whether he’ll A) remain in pinstripes, and b) if he doesn’t, what kind of contract could he be in line for on the free agent market.

Despite having an MVP caliber season in 2011, the Grandyman still has plenty of detractors. To be fair, some of the criticisms Granderson receives are legitimate gripes.  He doesn’t hit for average (career .262 BA, though he’s been about 30-40 points below that the past few seasons), he strikes out a ton (career 22.9 K%), and shows noticeable splits against lefties (career 85 wRC+ against southpaws, 132 wRC+ against righties). In 2012, he batted .232/.319/.492 (.346 wOBA, 119 wRC+) which was good for a 2.3 fWAR — a value basically equivalent to league average. This year, in limited time he’s hit .208/.333/.340 (.309 wOBA, 91 wRC+). That’s not exactly what you want to be seeing from a $15M dollar (now corner) outfielder.

However, one has to also give Curtis credit for his ability to hit the long ball, which is an increasingly valuable trait.  He hit 24 home runs in 2010 and 40+ home runs in each of the past two seasons. He’ll also show some patience (career 10.2 BB%) as well — and that shouldn’t be ignored given the impatient nature of this year’s Yankees squad.  On top of that, he can play a passable center field  though admittedly, his defense leaves something to be desired. Despite some unlucky injuries this season, he’s been pretty durable over the years, and I think it’s okay to assume he’ll be okay going forward. For what it’s worth, Granderson’s also the consummate professional and a respected ambassador of the sport, which is important for teams like the Yankees who value character and makeup.

The Yankees do have a surplus of outfielders, though I’d argue most of them are not ideally fit to be full-time starters.  I think it’s probably fair to wonder whether Granderson is more valuable than Ichiro Suzuki, Alfonso Soriano, and Vernon Wells. Heck, maybe you throw Brett Gardner in the mix too. Regardless of how you rank those guys, Granderson ultimately cracks the top three choices for New York’s everyday lineup. In terms of 2014 free agents, there really aren’t many quality left fielders available (unless you count Nate McLouth, which I don’t), and the only center fielder who really poses any upgrade to Granderson is Jacoby Ellsbury (who for the record, is also a player I have my doubts about).  My point here is it may behoove the Yankees to keep Grandy around for another year even if he’s not part of the long-term plan.  Conversely, the weak market could also play to Granderson’s advantage (though 2015 could actually be an even weaker market).

Depending on how serious the Yankees are in achieving their $189M budget (or remaining competitive for that matter), a qualifying offer might be in order.  This would give Granderson an opportunity to improve his value next season and would give the Yankees a trade chip that could potentially pay off if next season doesn’t work out.  In terms of salary, Grandy is currently earning $15M so the qualifying offer wouldn’t pose much of a pay cut, which isn’t all that bad considering the fact that this year was a lost year.  Obviously, if Grandy declined the offer, the Yankees would get the compensation draft pick which helps the team as well.  Now, before we go any further, I’d like to note that I think this is going to happen.  I don’t envision the Yankees simply cutting ties with Curtis at the end of the season, and frankly, I’m okay with seeing him in pinstripes for one more season.

But what happens if the Yankees do cut ties?  Well, it’s hard to tell what the market looks like for Granderson at this point.  If this season weren’t such a disaster, I’d say he could expect a big payday — probably one comparable to his old battery mate, Nick Swisher (four years, $56M with a $14M option in 2017)  or once-capable MLB player, Jason Bay (four year, $66M with an additional club option year).  As it stands, this year has been awful though, so obviously things could go a little differently.  For what it’s worth, Swisher was given the qualifying offer, so maybe they’re willing to go that route again.

Maybe if teams feel there are some question marks surrounding Grandy’s skill set moving forward, they offer him a deal similar to Corey Hart (three years, $26.5M) now.  Although it isn’t totally relevant, I also wonder if a guy like Nelson Cruz impacts how things go.  If he ends up getting a deal better than Melky Cabrera, maybe that inflates the contracts offered for everyone who is presumably “clean.”  Granderson’s injuries were an unlucky twist of fate for him.  It may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the Yankees immediate future.

*As an aside, I think I’m done writing about Phil Hughes for a while.  It’s getting exhausting.

Phil Hughes and his looming contract — Take 2

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Back in May, I took a shot at predicting Phil Hughes’s upcoming contract. Ultimately, at the time, I figured Phil’s next contract would wind up looking comparable to Edwin Jackson’s deal, or roughly four years and $52M (with guys like John Lackey or Anibal Sanchez representing the best-case scenario for Hughes if he was fantastic this season). Unfortunately for Phil, a lot more of the season has gone by since I first posted on this matter, and most have it has been negative, at least as it pertains to his contributions. So, have circumstances changed? Let’s take a look.

At this point, it seems very unlikely that New York will offer an extension to Phil for good reason. He’s been pretty terrible this season. At 4-10, Hughes has pitched to a 4.87 ERA (4.67 FIP) and has accumulated 0.8 fWAR — a mark well-below-average. That’s pretty lousy. In terms of peripherals, he’s striking out 7.38 batters per nine innings (good but not great), and walking 2.67 per nine (again, good but not great). His strikeout rate is about in line with where it normally is (1.57 HR/9), which is decidedly not great.

Phil’s looked especially feeble recently, having surrendered five runs in each of his last two starts while being driven out of each game before the fifth. I think the case could be made pretty convincingly that the last time Phil actually helped the team was July 2nd, when he limited the offensive juggernaut that is the Twins to one run over seven innings. Hughes isn’t quite as useless as Joba Chamberlain right now, but he’s close.

And so enters the qualifying offer into the discussion. Basically, the team has the option to offer Phil a one year agreement at roughly $14M for next season. There are some “pros” for choosing to this path. First, next year’s rotation is in shambles. CC Sabathia has to be considered a question mark. Who knows whether Hiroki Kuroda or Andy Pettitte will be back. That doesn’t leave much beyond unproven arms such as Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, and David Phelps. Hughes isn’t perfect by any means, but at least that’s one less question mark … well, sort of anyway.

Second, and for all you optimistic types, maybe Hughes puts up better numbers next season; they can’t be worse right? Aside from benefiting the team, a rebound raises Hughes’ personal value, which in turn could lead to a better return should the team try to trade him next season, or at the very least, make everyone a hell of a lot more confident about re-signing him again moving forward. Third, should Hughes decline the qualifying offer, it’d ensure the team gets a nice compensation pick in the first round. The con is pretty self-evident of course; the team could wind up paying $14M for more of what they’re getting right now, which is a perfectly legitimate concern.

After performing so poorly this season, I’d have to imagine Hughes would strongly consider the qualifying offer should New York pose it. That’s $14M in the bank right now, and he’d still be young enough to get a decent paycheck in 2015 if he could rebound a bit next season. Unfortunately, 2015 looks to have more competition on the free agent market, but you have to figure most of the big names (i.e. Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer) will be unavailable when the time comes as teams will look to lock up their young stars. If for some reason the qualifying offer doesn’t appeal to Hughes, he could test the free agent market after this season, which seems less competitive.  For what it’s worth, if Hughes tests free agency now, he’ll be one of the younger arms available which will probably work to his favor.

Maybe Phil is seeking a change of scenery. Everyone knows he’s an extreme fly ball pitcher. Maybe a place like San Diego or Minnesota makes a lot of  sense for him going forward, and maybe he’s willing to take his chances elsewhere if circumstance allows. Unless Phil finishes the season very strong, I don’t see any team giving him the Edwin contract (though I’ve certainly be wrong before). Perhaps, a Wandy Rodriguez arrangement is plausible though in the open market – say, something in the vicinity of three years and $30M. After all pitchers are always in demand, and it only takes one team to jack up the price. I could see a team offering Hughes a two-year, $26M gig (similar to Ryan Dempster) too. What I don’t envision is any team offering a one-year rebound opportunity that looks more appealing than the Yankees qualifying offer. As far as the dollars, some of the examples listed may feel inflated considering his overall production. Unfortunately, supply and demand will create just such a dilemma.

What happens with Hughes after the season?

Ken Singleton weighs in — Part I

(YES Network)
(YES Network)

Friend of River Ave. Blues and YES Network announcer, Ken Singleton, was kind enough to give an hour of his time to discuss some of the current affairs swirling about the Yankees. We discussed everything from the all-consuming Alex Rodriguez saga, the trade deadline, Brian Cashman‘s relationship with the front office, to the team’s direction heading forward. If you haven’t read RAB’s first interview with Ken, be sure to check it out here.

Matthew Warden: Might as well start with the huge elephant in the room. What are your thoughts on A-Rod, the pending suspension, and particularly, the Player Union’s stance on the matter of PEDs?

Ken Singleton: Well, you know, it’s unfortunate what’s happened to Alex Rodriguez but I think you’re dealing with this issue of PEDs — the first time it happened was bad enough and it kind of put a stain on his career. If all these allegations prove to be true it’s certainly going to put an even deeper mark on his career, to the point where the fans say “enough is enough.” You talk about the Player’s Association, and they’re involved with it, but I think you’re getting to the point where they’re saying “enough is enough” too.

You heard Michael Weiner, the director, mention that he’s going to take each case on an individual basis, and, if there is enough evidence against a particular player, that the Player’s Association will not back him, at least not to the point that they had in the past when they just stonewalled all kinds of punishments. But now, I think what you’re seeing is that the majority of the players in the game want the game cleaned up. They don’t want it to be stained by anyone taking PEDs. Take your punishment and move on. And for Alex, it seems like his punishment will be more than anyone else’s because some of the other things he’s done regarding the Biogenesis investigation.

It’s sad.

MW: It is sad. Correct me if I’m wrong, but A-Rod has never failed a drug test.

KS. That’s true.

MW: He came out and admitted to having used them during a time when free passes were being handed out. Now, I understand the league being infuriated with him allegedly tampering with their investigation, which has to be what the punishment emphasizes, right?

KS: Yeah. And I think it’s because number one, he admitted to using it before and he’s come back and has appeared to have used them again. And number two – and this is why I think his punishment is so much larger than everyone else’s – is because of what you just said. He supposedly interfered with the investigation, and that’s not a good thing for anyone to do. It’s almost at the point where legality has to be involved. I think this is why the book has been thrown at him, and it’s almost as if they want him off the field and that’s it. There’s a lot of money involved and that’s probably part of it, but he’s brought this situation on himself. As I said, it’s sad that he’s had such a great career and if it ends like this, it’s really a shame.

The thing about it is if his suspension is so long – you have to remember he’s missed all of this year – and if he misses a large remainder of this season and all of next season, that’ll be two years basically of not playing. He’ll be nearly 40 years old. How many simulated games can he go through and still be able to keep his edge? It’s difficult for anyone coming back from an injury – even after a two week period – to get ramped up again, let alone more than half the season. I just don’t know. I know that he wants to play.

MW: Yeah. It’s tough too because he’s always had his fair share of baggage.

KS: [Laughs] You’re right. It’s not always PEDs. It’s other situations too.

MW: Yeah, I think I can speak for most rational Yankee fans when I say the amount of baggage that he brought off the field, for most of his career, was grossly dwarfed by the amount of quality production he’s provided on it. There have been instances here and there where he drives everyone crazy, sure, but he’s been a dominant player for a long time and really that’s what’s most important.

KS: That’s true too.

MW: And I feel like in the last few years, perception surrounding Alex has begun to change in this regard. He’s become more of a problem then he’s worth (his abilities don’t justify his actions, perhaps unlike a guy like Ryan Braun who is still potentially an elite Outfielder) and you get the feeling the team is hoping/preparing for that moment when they get to cut their losses at this point. Do you agree?

KS: Yeah that might be the case. Everybody is going through the motions as if he’s going to come back and play. Major League Baseball — it’s not the Yankees, it’s MLB — holds the hammer here. If MLB says, “No,” he won’t come back. So the Yankees have to play as if he’ll come back, and play for their team. They’ve got four home runs out of their third basemen this year.

MW: Yeah…

KS: They need someone at third base whether it’s A-Rod or anyone else. I mean Kevin Youkilis has been out practically all season – he’s played only 28 games – the Yankees are struggling at a position that teams usually get a lot of production from. You have to play it like he’s coming back but I have a feeling that Major League Baseball and Bud Selig will not allow it to happen. That’s the feeling I get.

MW: I think you’re right too, and for exactly that reason. The production the Yankees have gotten out of their third basemen has been abysmal, like the worst in Major League Baseball abysmal. You would think if A-Rod weren’t so stigmatizing, they’d be chomping at the bit to get him back out there if they had any real hope of contending this season.

KS: Yep, but unfortunately that’s not the case.

MW: Perhaps some of that has to do with that rather bizarre incident with the doctor and the strained quad.

KS: It just added to the circus, Matt. It’s almost like he’s trying to make things even more convoluted and it’s hard to do that because it is that way already. [Laughs] I just think a lot of players on the team would like to see this go away whether it means A-Rod comes back and plays or is just gone altogether. They’re getting a lot of distractions and A-Rod hasn’t even been with the team nearly all season long. It’s been a tough enough year as it is with all the injuries, but they’ve still managed to have a chance to make a playoff spot.

MW: Pretty incredible, huh?

KS: Yeah it is. It’s just amazing that they’re at this point. Sabathia’s 9-10; he’s giving up over 19 runs in his last 15 innings and is pitching the worst that he’s ever pitched through his time in the Major Leagues. They need to get him going to have any chance. But that seems to be a mild distraction compared to what’s going on with Alex Rodriguez, and CC’s been on the field all season long.

This whole thing is uncharted territory, and Bud Selig and Major League Baseball are really trying to make a statement here. Remember, Bud Selig is retiring pretty soon. PEDs came to the forefront in the middle of his watch and I don’t think he wants that to be his legacy. I think he wants his legacy to be, “I did the best I could to clean this up. I went out and got rid of one of the best players ever because of the fact he had been doing PEDs.” I also think this would be like Joe Jackson. Pete Rose, that sort of thing. These are big time players who were suspended for life, and if that happens to A-Rod, he’ll fall into that category.

MW: I’m glad you mentioned Bud Selig. Do you think that his legacy will be that of the guy who cleans up the sport, or that of the hypocrite – that is to say the guy who cleaned up the sport after profiting off PEDs during baseball’s revival after the strike?

KS: [Laughs] Yeah, I see your point Matt. The point is that these issues all came to the forefront while he was commissioner and a lot of people feel he looked the other way, but now he he’s getting it cleaned up so he can leave with his hands kind of washed. I don’t think they’ll ever be totally washed no matter what he does.

* * *

That’s part one of our chat with Ken. Next we’ll get into some more “state of the team” issues, so check back for that!

Looking at the remaining 2013 schedule

The Yankees currently reside in fourth place in the A.L. East at 55-51 (52-54 Pythag. record), and are 3.5 games back in the Wild Card hunt. A postseason berth is absolutely doable, but in order to get there, the team will have to address a number of hot topics — notably, the overall offensive ineptitude, the starting rotation concerns (CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and Phil Hughes have all been pretty unreliable) and the huge elephant in the room that is the team’s high-priced third baseman being banned for the foreseeable future. This will be challenging given that the trade deadline is basically here.

Schedule wise, the team has some noticeable hurdles as well. It began last night in L.A. as the team faced off against the Dodgers and lost a winnable game. I’m guessing the Yankees will likely be dominated tonight by Clayton Kershaw, and will probably also surrender a whole bevy of runs to guys like Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig, and Hanley Ramirez. Who knows though; maybe they can pull a win out of the bag. Either way, I’ll be one of those folks on the East Coast struggling to keep their eyes open during tonight’s late night game.

This brings us into the month of August. The team will face some weaker opponents such as the White Sox and Padres (in Chicago and San Diego respectively) right off the bat, followed by an off day on August 8th. Who knows, the roster could look more formidable by this point if guys like Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, and David Phelps all rejoin the roster. I don’t know if Francisco Cervelli is still on his original recovery time table or not (or whether he too will ultimately accept a plea deal for his involvement with Biogenesis), but maybe he’ll make an appearance around this time too.

From there, they’ll enter a seven-game homestand against the defending AL champs, the Tigers, followed by a four-game series against the Angels. I don’t expect sweeps of any teams, but I’ll be disappointed if they don’t take the series against everyone not based out of Detroit through this point. Of course, it’d be nice if they could at least split with the Tigers too. After the off day, the Yanks will trek north to Boston for a critical three games against the Sox followed immediately by the second off day of the month on August 19th.

The following nine days include four games (in three days) against the Blue Jays in New York, three games against the Rays in Tampa, and then three more back in Toronto. August 29th is the final off day of the month, at which point they’ll begin a three game set against the Orioles at home which will take us into September. The team has a chance to capitalize here on some (theoretically) winnable series. They could also gain a few important games in the standings within their division. On the other hand, if the team struggles in August, that probably seals the deal on the season.

September, unfortunately, looks equally (if not more) daunting and will likely be a lot more nerve racking if the Wild Card race comes down to the wire. After Baltimore, the Yanks have a quick three-game set against what will hopefully be a depleted White Sox squad. Then it’s three games against the Red Sox (at home), four more games against the Orioles (this time in Baltimore), and three more games against the Red Sox (this time in Boston). They’ll get one day off on September 16th, followed by a quick trip to Canada for their final series against Toronto.

After that, the team will have a three-game set against the Giants back in New York followed by their final off day on September 23rd. The Bombers will get another crack at the Rays (at home) before concluding their season in Houston with a three-game bout against the Astros. Overall, 18 of their final 27 games will be played against A.L. East teams. They better make them count.

Assuming the team doesn’t raise the white flag and punt the rest of the season by the deadline, they’re going to have a hard road ahead of them in the second half. It’s definitely doable, but in order for a postseason berth to remain plausible, the team is going to have to sort out a bunch of lingering issues in a hurry and then make the most of the games remaining.