The State of the Universe: What the Yankees Must Do in the Second Half

July 14, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

After 88 hard-fought games, the New York Yankees finally have a chance to breathe, thanks to a four-day break—the usual three-day All-Star break and a scheduled off day on Thursday.

Then it’s back to the regular grind of the baseball schedule as the Yankees open the second half of their 2009 campaign. Currently at 51-37, New York finds itself three games behind Boston in the AL East race.

While the Yankees have shown that they are a playoff-caliber team, there’s still quite a bit of work to be done if they want to make a serious push for the division title and/or avoid the all too familiar one-and-done exit in October.

Looking back at the first half of the season, this is what the Yankees must do going forward to mount a strong playoff charge.


1) Win Against the Red Sox, Angels, and Other Contenders

It sounds like such a simple concept. If I were talking about any other team, I probably wouldn’t list this as a “must do” for the second half.

Not the Yankees, though.

We all know about the Yankees’ dreadful 0-8 record against the Red Sox, and it was just this weekend that we cringed as they were swept by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Los Angeles of Angels (or whatever they’re called these days).

However, it gets worse. The Yankees are 5-15 against the four division leaders that they have faced, with a 2-12 combined record against the Red Sox and Angels, a 1-2 record against the Phillies, and a 2-1 record against the Tigers.

For the Yankees, it’s not just enough to win games. They need to show that they can hold their own against the teams that they may very well see again come October.


2) Find Some Stability in the Rotation

Overall, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett have shown the Yankees why they deserved their mega-contracts, and Andy Pettitte has quietly put up solid numbers without having to carry the team.

I wish I could say the same about the remaining two spots in the rotation.

To put it kindly, it’s been disastrous ever since Chien-Ming Wang went down with his shoulder injury a few weeks ago. Adding to the problems has been the maddening performance of Joba Chamberlain—or, as I’ve come to calling him recently, Job-ugh.

I could write a whole article on this. For the longest time, I’ve given Job-ugh plenty of slack. I’ve vehemently defended his rotation spot and preached that he needs time to blossom into an effective starter.

Now I’m not so sure anymore.

For the second half, Joe Girardi HAS TO have Chamberlain on a shortened leash. Just remind him that Phil Hughes is sitting in the bullpen as our setup man right now and could swap roles with Joba if need be.

As for the final rotation spot once held by Wang’s 9.64 ERA, the solution might have to come from the outside, as a starter by committee won’t cut it.

Alfredo Aceves was used in a spot start, though his services are more necessary in the bullpen than anywhere else. Sergio Mitre will most likely get the next start, and although he has done well in AAA Scranton, he has a history of spending time on the DL—not exactly what you’d want from someone who’s supposed to fill a rotation hole.

There are a few possible trade scenarios available for the Yankees, one of the most obvious ones being Roy Halladay. Yes, he would instantly make the rotation much more feared, but I’m more concerned with Toronto’s asking price—the Blue Jays have been rumored to want the same haul that the Twins wanted for Johan Santana, which may just be too much.

They could also make a move for someone like Jarrod Washburn—a low-risk innings-eater who has quietly posted a 6-6 record with a 2.96 ERA in Seattle.

Either way, the Yankees need to address their pitching woes if they want to succeed in the second half.


3) Maintain Some Semblance of Offensive Consistency

It’s no secret that the Yankees’ success is tied to their offensive performance. They’ve averaged 5.62 runs per game through the first half of the season, tops in the majors.

But when the Yankees fail to score runs, they look horrible.

In each of their 51 wins, they’ve averaged 7.01 runs scored.

Compare that to each of their 37 losses, however—they’ve only managed to get an average of 3.72 guys to cross the plate.

This was especially evident in the middle of June, when the Yankees were on a 5-9 swoon against the likes of the Red Sox, Mets, Nationals, Marlins, and Braves. During the stretch, the were shut out three times and—excluding the 15-0 outburst against the Mets—scored an average of 3.08 runs.

There’s not much that the Yankees can do internally to help keep run production up, other than resting their players every now and then. They may look at an extra outfielder to replace Nick Swisher, as his offensive stats have been pretty atrocious.

Here’s where someone like Matt Holliday may come in handy, but only if the price is right—the Yankees have high hopes for young OF Austin Jackson, and he could be ready to play in the Bronx come September.


So there you have it—three pretty simple yet necessary things that the Yankees must do to succeed in the second half. With the AL East looking more competitive than it has all season, Yankees Universe must pull out all the stops if it want to be known as the 2009 AL East champions come playoff time.

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