Halfway Home

Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday that Opening Day arrived? Amazingly, that was three-months ago tomorrow and the Yankees find themselves at the halfway point of their season with a 49-32 record and a five-game lead in the AL East. (Last year they were 50-31 halfway through, but only had a 2-1/2 game lead.)

It’s been another strange year for the Yankees. They started out with their starting pitching in a shambles for six weeks and then turned that completely around when Andy Pettitte joined the staff. Then, they lost 40% of their rotation on the same day.

Their bullpen lost Mariano in early May and Joba before the season even began, but they are still rock solid.

The meat of the lineup struggled mightily in the beginning of the season, but Cano has been amazing the past month and Teixeira has certainly turned around a miserable April. A-Rod’s slugging percentage has increased every month so far, so maybe he is coming around as well.

But, there are obvious holes. The rotation is a concern, especially if Sabathia needs more time to heal. The catching situation is abysmal offensively and their top in-house replacement hasn’t played a game this season. Raul Ibanez put up a line of .162/.250/.265 in June, so the Yankees need to watch him. But overall, you can’t complain with where the Yankees currently stand. The key thing from here will be to see what happens to this club over the next 26 days before the deadline. If the lead in the division stays relatively stable, expect the Yankees to be very quiet. But, if things start to tighten up, I fully expect Cashman to start making some moves. Time will tell.

A word about the acquisition of Darnell McDonald off of waivers. This seems like a very smart and very temporary move. The Yankees are scheduled to face three lefties this weekend in Fenway. Furthermore, the new doubleheader rule allows them to add an extra pitcher for those two games. So, they claim a guy who is a righty bat and knows how to play defense in the Fenway outfield for this upcoming series. That will allow them to avoid having to have Ibanez or Jones play the Monster and also have an extra bat on the bench Sunday.

I fully expect Phelps to get sent down to the minors to make room for McDonald and then McDonald to get DFA’ed after the break when Sabathia is ready. Having started yesterday, Phelps couldn’t have pitched before the break and now he can make two starts in the minors and then come back on the active roster July 16th ready to pitch deeper into games. Great move by Cashman.