LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees Skid Into The Season's Midpoint

Monday, July 1, 2013

Yankees Skid Into The Season's Midpoint

Here it is: July 1. The New York Yankees are 81 games into a 162 game season, the exact midpoint. Their record stands at 42-39, good for fourth place in the A.L. East , only 2.0 games up on the last place Toronto Blue Jays and 6.5 behind the first place Boston Red Sox.

Now is as good a time as any to take stock of the Yankees and their hopes for the rest of the season. The truth is, however, that it is hard to say because the season thus far has been a mixed bag. The Yankees team that Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman run out there every day is filled with aging former superstars, utility players forced into every day action and rookies who, before this season, merited very little prospect consideration. Very few exciting names but yet, in April and May, this combination of players exceeded all expectations.

Yankee fans reveled as Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart more than held their own at the catching position, while Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner also got off to great starts. It looked like the best possible scenario was unfolding. The Yankees weren't only treading water waiting for their superstars to return from the DL, they were excelling. Even when Francisco Cervelli went down with an injury soon followed by Eduardo Nunez, it still seemed like it would be fine. The "A" lineup would be together soon enough and they could keep up the Yankees winning ways.

Then Curtis Granderson came back at the end of May and was just starting to hit when a HPB courtesy of Tampa Bay pitching fractured his left pinkie. It was deflating, just like the other injuries but, somehow, this seemed different. They won that game but this injury seemed to suck the wind right of the Yankees sails. In the 33 games since, then the Yankees have won only 12 times. It has been a brutal stretch and included sweeps by the cross-town NY Mets and the division rival Baltimore Orioles. In short, since Granderson's injury, the Yankees have been horrendous.

There is some good news in this. The Yankees have not played themselves out of the race and things should only get better from here. Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson are on the mend and should play a role early in the second half, Alex Rodriguez is in some stage of recovery and Michael Pineda is throwing a low to mid 90s fastball as he works his way back from extensive shoulder surgery. However, as Granderson and Teixeira, have proven, there are no guarantees associated with those big names.

As Cashman, Girardi and countless players have said to the media in post-game interviews: No one, aside from their fans, is going to feel sorry for this team. Now they have to regroup, prove that the April and May successes were not in vain and prove that these 2013 Yankees are better than their run differential, better than their no name lineup and better than their terrible June. The second half starts now.

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