As the baseball world finds itself at the All-Star break, the New York Yankees find themselves on the top of the baseball world. After starting 0-3 and having an abysmal April, the Yankees got hot right at the end of May and have tore through the AL East like nobody’s business. Right now the Yankees have a 52-33 record, tops in the majors. But even the best team in Major League Baseball has its share of issues.
The injuries plaguing the Yankees have been no secret. They have had 4 different starters injured at some point during this season, 3 of which still are injured. Pineda, Sabathia, and Pettitte are still injured, and Nova was injured at one point. Brett Gardner remains on the DL with numerous setbacks from his elbow injury, and Mariano Rivera had the most devastating injury of all for Yankees fans: a torn ACL.
Yet the Yankees have battled through all of it. David Robertson stepped into the closer role and performed admirably before succumbing to injury himself. Then Rafael Soriano took the closer reins and has held them ever since. Meanwhile, a makeshift outfield of DeWayne Wise/Andruw Jones, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher have anchored a steady infield. David Phelps and the seemingly ageless Freddy Garcia have stepped into starter roles and performed wonderfully. Couple that with a resurgent Phil Hughes, and the Yankees have had the right amount of luck for all their injury woes.
But that doesn’t mean the luck will continue. And the Yankees know that. Thus, they are taking a hard look at two potential starters that they can bring in at the deadline. Their favored is the Cubs’ Matt Garza. They also are scouting Wandy Rodriguez of the Astros. Both of those guys would fill unique roles. Once Sabathia comes off the DL – he is scheduled to start on July 17th – the Yankees rortation could be Sabathia, Nova, Hughes, Garza, Rodriguez. Not necessarily stellar, but solid. This would give the Yankees flexibility in the rotation, and help push the Yankees to the 2012 finish line with a coveted playoff berth.
Garza’s pedigree is well known: many solid seasons on Tampa Bay, including a no-hitter, and he always pitched the Yankees tough. He is a good pitcher floundering on a horrendously bad team, and he deserves better. With further news that the Red Sox are also interested in Matt Garza, the two arch nemeses will get into another arms race for the righty, most likely. It will probably also cause the Yankees to give too much for Garza, unfortunately.
Garza has longevity as well, as he is 28 years old. In his prime, he has a good solid 6 or 7 years left for the Yankees to utilize his talent effectively and get the most they can out of him.
Wandy Rodriguez is not an overpowering pitcher, but he is a smart pitcher. He doesn’t yield many walks, despite his low K count (75). His K/BB ratio is 3. He is averaging nearly 6 Ks per 9 innings, but the downside is hie is also averaging slightly more than a hit per inning. His win-loss numbers are a bit deceiving, playing for a routinely mediocre team in Houston, yet he stil managed double digit wins in 4 of his 8 seasons so far.
Either one of these guys would be a great fit in pinstripes. Right now, with the greatest need being pitching, the Yankees need to continue to look that way. Pitching wins championships, and for the Yankees, that holds especially true, with their band box of a ballpark.
The Yankees have also inquired about lefty Cole Hamels, but they are afraid the Phillies are asking too much for him, and so right now there is nothing on the horizon in that regard. The Yankees should just stick with the two guys they want, and make it happen.
From a position player standpoint, they also made an inquiry into Justin Upton, who is quietly being shopped by the Diamondbacks. If these and other New York Yankees trade rumors develop into anything, I will keep everyone abreast of it.
For now though, if the Yankees pull the right moves at starting pitcher, they will be guaranteed a playoff spot.