The New York Yankees kicked off the second half of the season with a dramatic 6 to 5 win over the Angels Friday night at Yankee Stadium behind Mark Teixeira’s 2 homer, 5 R.B.I night. The Bombers continue to have the best record in baseball despite a number of warts and injuries. As I have stated time and again in this space I do not like this club from top to bottom. I simply do not believe it is capable of winning World Championship # 28 as it is currently constructed without some roster changes. Below are those 5 recommended moves. Some are very realistic, and some are pipe dreams. What are blogs for anyway right?
1. Brett Gardner needs to get healthy and be placed in the second spot in the order. The Yankees miss Gardner’s speed, defense, clutch hitting, and the fact he doesn’t swing from his heels every time up. He has played in just 9 games this season due to an elbow injury in his non-throwing arm. GM Brian Cashman announced last weekend that Gardner is swinging off a tee in his rehab. Cashman stated that barring any more setbacks Gardy should be back by months end. Now whether Joe Girardi puts him in the 2 hole remains to be seen. It is just a logical move as if the Yankees struggles with runners in scoring position continue. Gardner is almost always on second when gets on as he is just about automatic to swipe second. He is also a true table setter and may help Robinson Cano, Mark Teixieira, and A-Rod excel more in those critical R.B.I situations.
2. C.C. Sabathia needs to return from his minor groin injury and dominate like an ace. C.C threw a 30 pitch bullpen session today and declared himself good to go to start Tuesday against the Blue Jays. He will make the final determination after a full bullpen Sunday. Sabathia was named an all-star with his 9-3 record, 3.45 e.r.a, and 105 puchouts but did not pitch because of the groin injury. He has only 1 truly dominant start this year which was his complete game gem against the Braves on June 18th. C.C. has always pitched better in the 2nd half as the weather heats up during his 3 previous years in pinstripes. The big fella needs more of that this year in order to get on a roll and become an automatic win every time out. That should start Tuesday against Toronto, and hopefully carries on through October. Being a horse is nice and all in giving up 3 or 4 runs a night over 7 innings, but that is not enough. This ballclub needs dominance from its # 1 starter. Maybe if Sabathia got a little ticked off and pitched inside frequently with his 4 seamer he would make hitters a bit more uncomfortable and be able to deal some gas. C.C. has been worth every penny of the free agent contract, and massive extension the Yankees bestowed upon him. He needs to take the next step in becoming a Yankee legend with a memorable stretch run of stellar performances to finish off 2012.
3. Joba Chamberlain needs to come back and throw heat in the bullpen and Andy Pettitte needs to return in August. After Joba suffered his buffoonish ankle injury during spring training jumping on a trampoline with his son it was speculated he might never pitch again. This new injury was an added, unwanted surprise since Chamberlain was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Well Chamberlain has began a rehab assignment in Tampa. He hit 97 mph on the gun his first time out, and is scheduled to pitch 2 innings on Saturday. If all goes well he could return to the team by August 1st. This would thankfully signal the end of the long man out of the ‘pen Girardi hates to use, and hopefully cut down on the innings Boone Logan pitches. As Joba is solid against both righties and lefties. As for Pettitte his unretirement is what turned the team around after its early season struggles. The Yanks were just 19 and 15 when he made his season debut on May 13. They have gone a staggering 34-18 since then. It was a huge blow to the rotation to have him break his leg. Pettitte showed he could still get big leaguers out , and even dominate them at times. The Yankees will need his veteran prescence to be a game 3 starter on the road in the playoffs behind C.C., and Ivan Nova come October.
4. The Yankees need more out of Alex Rodriguez. A .265 13 home run, 38 R.B.I. stat line while being completely healthy is not acceptable. I grade him a little higher than most of the fans and media that follow the Yankees. Rodriguez has earned that because of his 09 post-season performance, his work ethic, and the intangibles he brings to the field every day. You cannot however defend a player of Rodriguez’s caliber having just 24 extra base hits. So if he is truly healthy how does the team get more out of him? I think he needs to become the Yankee’s version of David Ortiz, and become a full time DH. To do that New York should trade for an every day 3B like the Phillies Placido Polanco. Philadelphia is going to sell at the trade deadline if they cannot sign Cole Hamels to a long term extension and they continue to fade. Polanco would add a clutch bat who is not a homerun hitter to this power obsessed Yankee lineup. Brian Cashman could pitch it to A Rod that he is already a Hall-of-Famer and that he could finish out his career as a modern day Edgar Martinez. You worry as an organization about the ramifications of not being able to rotate the DH on a daily basis, and the small potential damage to A-Rod’s ego a move like this may cause in the offseason. The blow would be lightened significantly if a world championship is the result. This move would also signal the end of the Raul Ibanez era which woudn’t be such a bad thing.
5. Some how some way get Felix Hernandez from the Mariners. This is the ultimate pipe dream as a Yankee fan but what the heck. Mariner GM Jack Zduriencik owes Brian Cashman for fleecing him in the Michael Pineda deal last winter. Sure Zduriencik stated at the All Star Game in Kansas City that he is not going to trade Hernandez under any circumstances. That is just stupid as Seattle is going nowhere fast, and has no chance of winning in the next 2 years before King Felix hits free agency. Stranger things have happened and it never hurts to ask. Cashman should be dialing as you read this The Yankees could offer the M’s a Hershel Walker-esque hall with a package built around Phil Hughes, and either Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos in addition to a boatload of other prospects.
The first three should happen no problem. Gardner, Joba, and Pettitte will return in some capacity and C.C. will certainly spin a few gems at minimum. A Rod should also improve slightly no matter what, and finish with 22 to 25 homers and 80 some R.B.I’s no matter where he plays. Regardless of where you insert it into the lineup a new, contact focused, gap hitting bat is the key addition needed to change the overall makeup of this Yankee team from a strong regular season ballclub to a playoff dynamo.
About the Author
Written by Brendan Sennott
I was born in the heart of the AL East in the late 70's and am a huge Yankees fan. (Don't hate) I have moved around to a lot of solid baseball markets in my life(Boston, Chicago, Detroit) and was a part-time reporter, producer, blogger, and on air personality for WDFN Radio Sportsradio 1130 The Fan in Detroit. I still live in the "D" and am married with one beautiful 9 month old daughter. My girls are my life. In my media career I've interviewed players, managers and executives in the sport and would love to get back in the business full time. Baseball is my passion. I look forward to shooting straight about the Yanks and M.L.B in my new blog and getting your feedback.