Halfway Home

The Yankees played their 82nd game today which means they are in the second half of their regular season schedule. Only the most optimistic fans could have expected them to have a better first half than they did, 44 wins against 37 losses and first place in the AL East. And, that depute losing their best starter, closer, center fielder, and other players, for significant stretches of the season. Clearly, the Yankees are playoff contenders. The problem is, every team in the American League is too. Oakland, a league worst 38-44, is only six-games out of a wild card spot.

An optimist would look at the Yankees as currently constructed and say that they are going to get two huge boosts in the next week with the return of Andrew Miller and Jacoby Ellsbury to the team. They would be right. A pessimist would say that while those two will certainly help, sooner or later A-Rod and Teixeira will realize it is 2015 and not 2005. They might be right too, and that presents the biggest conundrum for the Yankees as they consider the upcoming trade deadline.

Teixeira is having the best OPS+ season of his Yankees’ career. A-Rod is having his best OPS+ season since 2008. Is it reasonable to expect either of them to continue to perform at these levels? I would say no, but so far the stats aren’t agreeing with me. A-Rod had his worst month at the plate in June, but his line of .281/.411/.489 is still very formidable. Teixeira had a lower OPS in June than he had in April or May, but he had a much better average and again, his line of. 259/.366/.506 is more than acceptable. Both show no signs of producing anywhere near below-average at this point.

And if you believe that A-Rod and Teixeira can keep producing at levels that are at least league average, you have to try to upgrade the talent on this roster. There are five areas you can upgrade on a contending team- starting pitching, relief pitching, regular lineup, bench, and defense. I will examine each over the next five days.