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Friday, July 17, 2009

Advice for the Yankees

The Yankees Unobstructed - July 17

I know what you're thinking, "Oh no! Not another 'How the Yankees can improve in the second half' column! How tired and cliche!"

Whatever dude. Since last week, all the Yankees have done is get swept by the Angels and fall from a tie for first place to three games behind. It's either this or crying with words, and I already spent my weekly allotment of tears on mourning the loss of $9 to "Public Enemies" (just an awful "movie").

Anyway, what the Yankees should and should not do in the second half:

Don't trade for Roy Halladay: More than anything, this is a personal plea. At times it can be tough to justify being a Yankee fan. The Yankees front office often seems to spend without any strategic direction (I'm looking at you Randy Johnson-signing), and then there's the ticket prices, the public bonds fiasco, the replacement parks, etc. But lately the whole Yankee tenor has been changing. While they still notch your big-name mega-contracts (C.C., A.J., Tex), the Yankees have expressed a renewed (or just plain new) interest in building from within. This year has seen the fruits of that labor sewn, in the success of Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner, Phil Hughes and even Robinson Cano.

If the Yankees front office decides that they want Roy Halladay, they can have him. Toronto has made it clear that they will deal him to whoever offers the best deal, and the Yankees are in a position, as always, to be that team. However, the best deal would probably include a couple of the youngeons mentioned above, as well as Jesus Montero, the Yankees top offensive prospect.

Even Roy Halladay might not be worth the talent necessary to secure him.

Split the rest of the Boston games: Easier said than done, ey? Against all teams not named "Red Sox," the Yankees are the best team in the American League. Meanwhile, against the Red Sox, the Yankees might as well be called the "Mets" (ZINGER!). Our hometown heroes are 0-8 against Boston this year, but only three games behind them in the standings...you do the math.  The two teams still have another eleven contests left, including three of the last six games of the season. They've gotta win sometime, right? Please? 

Win at least one of the three remaining Angels games: This is just one of those "exorcise the demons" things.

Brian Bruney needs to figure it out, soon: Imagine the power in having last year's Brian Bruney paired with Alfredo Aceves and the untouchable Phil Hughes, working to line up Mariano for saves. Suddenly Joba's weekly five-inning marathon wouldn't seem so taxing.

Robinson Cano: The Canodrum is as frustrating as any Yankee players since, well, Chuck Knoblauch. The numbers don't lie. Get Robbie up to bat to lead off an inning and his average is a Godly .416 (77 at-bats). If there's no one on base, but an out or two has been recorded, Cano still swings a .357 clip (187 at-bats). But as soon as you start giving him the opportunity to drive in runs, Cano falls apart.
Cano is batting with...
  • runners on-base: .259 (170 at-bats)
  • runners in scoring position: .211 (109 at-bats)
  • runners in scoring position and two outs: .191 (68 at-bats)
  • the bases loaded: .200 (15 at-bats)
If the Yankees are to overrun Boston, this good hitter will need to produce runs more efficiently.

Bring back error-less defense: The Yankees' 47 errors puts them in a tie for ninth in the Majors. That's not bad, but when you consider their record-setting 19 game error-less streak earlier this season, it seems surprising that they are not higher up on that list. During that streak the Yankees were 14-5. Also, four of baseball's six first place teams have less total errors than the Yankees. Good fielding is not necessarily the key to success, but most good teams are fielding-adept.

NOTE: Make sure to check back every Wednesday for Pinstripe Politics, your source for that gray area where the Yankees and society converge. Also, check in with the BNN on Fridays for The Yankees, Unobstructed, our weekly Yankee opinion column.

For more of Graham Kates' sports writing, check out his True/Slant blog "Coaches in the Crosshairs" (www.trueslant.com/grahamkates).


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