Yankees at the break

I’ve already broken down the Giants first half, so I figured I would do the same for the Yankees. If you want me to do any other teams just ask.

Starting Rotation: Well, at least it’s deep. The Yankees have 6 solid starters on the roster. CC Sabatthia has been excellent and injury free at the top of the rotation which is a relief for an injury plagued team. Starting pitching has been one of their strongest areas and will be vital in making a postseason run.

Catcher: Former Giant Chris Stewart has been typically excellent behind the dish with blocking balls in the dirt and throwing out baserunners. He’s not much at the plate, hittin .238, but it could be worse for a mainly defensive catcher. The Yankees are probably kicking themselves for not holding onto Jesus Montero, as they could use his bat in the lineup. Austin Romine hasn’t been much help, scratching out 12 hits in 76 at bats with 19 strikeouts for a measly .158 batting average. The Yankees should be content with Stewart’s below average production at the plate as long as he continues to excel on defense, which he should.

First Base: Mark Texeira is no where to be seen, the first in a long list of injured Yankees superstars. Lyle Overbay has done suprisingly well in his absence, with 11 homers at the break. If he can put up a statline of .275/20/80 the Yankees should be satisfied. He’s certainly no Texeira, but he’s done a passable job of filling in, and he’s much better in the field than Travis Hafner.

Second Base: Robinson Cano has been the only star position player on the Yankees to stay healthy throughout the first half, although they got a scare at the All Star game when he took a 96mph fastball from Matt Harvey off his right knee. Cano has been excellent, winning another well deserved All Star berth. The Yankees are lucky to have such a model of consistency in their lineup. Cano is once again hitting over .300 and is hitting the ball well to all fields with power. He absolutely has to stay healthy if the Yankees want to play deep into October.

Shortstop: After months of difficult rehab, Yankees fans have their beloved captain back. He came back for one game before taking a couple days off to rest his strained quadricep. Eduardo Nunez, Reid Brignac, and Jayson Nix have done an acceptable job holding down the fort and keeping it warm for when the captain returns. Now that he’s finally back, they will return to utility and bench roles. None of them have been much at the plate (a recurring theme with this year’s roster) but the defense has been passable and Joe Girardi will follow one of the oldest baseball rules: take what you get and do your best with it.

3rd base: Nunez and Luis Cruz have been playing a lot of third. Not much really to comment here, except for the fact that A-Rod will be back on monday. Not sure if that’s really going to boost the offensive production though, as he’s hitting just .179 with 1 homer through 20 minor league games. The Yankees are locked into a huge contract with him through 2017, and that’s really too bad because he is sucking 25 million a year out of the organization and is completely over the hill. Expect more drama filled, injury-plagued, subpar seasons out of him. His hip injury sucked all his power from him last year, and it remains to be seen if that will hold true in the future. Realistically, you’ll see .260/15/75 in a full season from him, and I’m being generous on the RBI’s. I hope A-Rod can contribute something, because right now he’s just a money pit.

Outfield: Curtis Granderson joins the list of injured Yankees, as he’s been out for pretty much the whole season. The good news is Brett Gardner has performed pretty well in his absence, giving the Yankees some speed on the basepaths and playing a solid centerfield. In right, Ichiro has bounced back from a below average season to hit .283 with 6 homers so far. Ichiro can still play great defense with his good speed and cannon arm. Top prospect Zoilo Almonte has been called up to man left field, and has done ok at the plate and he has been average in the field. Hopefully he will blossom into a productive everyday player in the next few years. He certainly has the talent to do so. Vernon Wells was replaced by Almonte because he simply wasn’t producing.

Bullpen: Mariano Rivera has turned in another All Star year to cap his illustrious career as the greatest closer ever. The rest of the bullpen has very good as well, contributing to a Top 5 team ERA of 3.72.

Manager: Joe Girardi has done an awesome job of shuffling the deck to make this ragtag bunch of rookies and washups play like a playoff team. The Yankees are 51-44, second place in a tight AL East race led by the Red Sox, who lead the MLB with 58 wins at the break. Girardi should be considered for manager of year for his great performance in guiding this team to that 51-44 record with a high standard of play. Hopefully the return of Jeter and A-Rod will give the team a second half boost as they push for the playoffs.


Should the Giants sell out before the trade deadline?

As much as it pains me to admit it, the Giants season is over. They’ve absolutely tanked over the past two months and are playing like a cellar dweller. Injuries have plagued them, from leadoff and centerfielder Angel Pagan to steady starter Ryan Vogelsong. Andres Torres hasn’t really stepped up as Gregor Blanco’s replacement in left as Blanco slid over to man center, and now he’s being replaced with former Japanese All-Star Tanaka. Replacing Vogelsong has been an even bigger mess, with Mike Kickham’s astronomical ERA and Chad Gaudin’s injury and recent trouble with the law. It’s not just those guys who have been struggling. Pablo Sandoval has been awful, and Matt Cain’s last start only lasted 2/3rds of an inning. The only players who have been playing well are Buster Posey and Marco Scutaro, but their efforts are not not enough to stave off losses created by the horrendous pitching staff. No one else has advanced past mediocrity, and Hunter Pence has cooled off since his hot start. With the season down the chutes, the question on everyone’s mind (and especially GM Brian Sabean’s) is what to do with the players whose contracts are up at the end of the year. Hunter Pence might be on the trading block, as he’s unlikely to return to the Giants after such and awful season. I know Giants fans appreciate what he did for us last year and what he’s done last year, but no player wants to lose, and his patience might be up. The Pirates are sure to be interested as they make their first playoff push in 20 years and have a weak spot in right field. If they would be willing to give up Gregory Polanco, the Giants should definitely take that deal. The other name on the trading block is Tim Lincencum,but the Giants should be wary and very hesitant to trade him. Last year he was not good at all, but this year he is much improved and had 11k’s in his last start. The Giants need starting pitching right now, with top prospect Kyle Crick a ways away from the bigs and a shallow farm system in that department right now. The Giants will try to salvage the season, but there is no sign of hope for the forseeable future. They’ve tried calling up Tanaka and signing Jeff Francouer to try to ignite some sort of spark, but it hasn’t worked so far. Outfield prospect Gary Brown is hitting only .242 in AAA and is simply not ready for the big leagues. Calling him up could destroy his confidence and hinder his growth as a player. Juan Perez, Cole Gillepsie, Mike Kickham, and Tanaka have all been called up by the Giants without making an impact, and most have been sent back down. Without any star players available for trade, the Giants have been looking to the minor leagues for help, but it’s not coming anytime soon. 2009 first round pick Zack Wheeler was traded to the Mets for Carlos Beltran in a move that still makes me cringe. 2010 first round pick Gary Brown isn’t ready. 2011 first round pick Joe Panik is still in double A, and the remaining prospects in the Giants system are too young, with their talent too raw and unready for the faster, bigger, and stronger MLB. There’s not much left to do for the Giants but build for the future with this season in the pipes. I’ll stick with them to the end, but it doesn’t make watching them lose game after game any easier.