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Yankees Clinch a Playoff Berth

With a recent slide that had allowed the Red Sox back into the division race pundits were starting to worry about the Yankees and their inconsistent starting rotation come playoff time; however, Tuesday they managed to give fans reason for hope as after they clinched a playoff berth with the Texans loss, the Yankees went on to beat the Angels in Anaheim, a team that has given them trouble and will likely make the playoffs.

Going into the playoffs the starting rotation for the Yankees will be C.C. Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Joba Chamberlain. Sabathia hasn’t played his best in the postseason; Burnett has been inconsistent all season; Pettitte has historically done well in the postseason but there are fears of him wearing down at his age; and Chamberlain has not been pitching well recently. Now this isn’t to say the Yankees will have a bad rotation come playoff time as Sabathia, Burnett and Pettitte have played well this season and Chamberlain was pitching well till the Yankees cut his starts down to three innings to avoid wearing him out in his first full season as starter, but it is reason to doubt the Yankees ability to win the World Series.

Moving past the rotation, it was big for the Yankees to pull out the win against the Angels, their play, while not terrible, has been inconsistent and while they have a very talented team analysts worry about their ability to win in a shortened series. Well beating the Angels in Anaheim is a good way to prove that they can do that, especially because as mentioned earlier, the Angels are a team that historically the Yankees have struggled against. Now one win isn’t enough to say that the Yankees are good enough to win the series against them and so tonight’s game holds significance as well, but it is definitely an encouraging sign.

Impending Series With Boston

The last time the Yankees and Red Sox played the Yanks swept the long time rivals in a four game set at home. An interesting development since the Yanks had yet to win a game against the Red Sox this season starting the season 0-8 against them. The series win really solidified the Yankees as the best team in baseball as they were not only able to beat the Red Sox by putting up a ton of runs but were even able to beat the Red Sox in a pitching duel.

Recently the Red Sox offense has gone into a slump and they have fallen to only a game up over the Rangers in the Wild Card race to go along with six and a half games out in the division. Needless to say the Red Sox need this a lot more than the Yankees as another sweep here puts them close to ten games back and almost certainly lands them behind the Rangers in the Wild Card.

While the Yankees are in better position here they do have to show up for this series. For one it would be nice to see the Yankees beat the Red Sox in Boston but at the same time you don’t want the Red Sox to find themselves back in this race. As long as the Yankees win one of these games they are in good shape.

Yanks Avoid the Four Game Sweep

The Yankees won the final game of a four game series against the White Sox preventing a four game sweep. The series loss puts them only half a game up over the Red Sox, a team they will be playing to end the week in another four game series.

This series against the White Sox should not raise too much alarm as it was unlikely the Yankees were going to continue to win nine of every ten games they play and so a series loss is acceptable especially since it’s the first one they lost since the All-Star break. The reason why it should cause concern though is the fact that they lost against the White Sox, a team that while not leading in any playoff spot, is still a contender this season. The Yankees have had trouble against possible playoff teams this year with poor play against teams like the Angels and Red Sox.

This series did not look good for the Yankees as their pitching was really exposed throughout with the White Sox hitting them hard. Their best performance of the series came when Andy Pettitte was pitching, with the rest of the series the Yanks giving up 10, 14, and 5 runs, the last game being pitched by their ace Sabathia. Not something encouraging for a team with enough rotation question marks that they heavily pursued Brian Bannister and Jarrod Washburn before the trading deadline.

The next two series they play are against the Blue Jays and the Red Sox, two important divisional series. If the Yankees can sweep the Jays in the shortened two game series and at least split with the Red Sox it should be considered a successful week. The season has reached August and it is about time the Yankees show they can beat the Red Sox. Not only that but they must show that this past series was just a fluke after a long hot streak.

Yanks Deadline Decision

With the trade deadline looming the Yankees have an important decision to make: should they make a trade this season? Right now the Yanks sport the best record in the American League leading their division by three and a half games. They have gone on a tear to start the second half of play only losing two games since the All-Star break. Joba is pitching the best he has all season, all the offensive players are healthy with the run average these past few weeks being over the five run mark and the Yankees are cruising to the top of thier division making the Yankees look like they will coast to the playoffs even though it isn’t even August yet.

The problem is the Yankees have just put Wang on the DL with the realization that he is definitely done this season and with Hughes playing so well in the bullpen they had to turn to Sergio Mitre as their fifth starter. This is not a huge deal but the Yankees would probably feel a lot more comfortable having a fifth starter with a little better pedigree than this. Also you have to keep in mind that Joba is on an innings limit making it unlikely they will be able to use him for the postseason and with Pettitte not playing that well the Yankees will have to go into the postseason with a rotation of Sabathia, Burnett…Pettitte and Mitre. Simply put a rotation that has a lot to be desired, and with the Angels and Red Sox likely to be in the postseason as well the Yankees can’t just expect to cruise into the World Series.

There are quite a few starters available through trade at this point but as the Yankees are a team that should win now would it be a good move to trade for Halladay? The problem of course is going to be the players it will likely cost the Yankees, something that could hurt them for the future especially with GM Brian Cashman’s new emphasis on developing the farm system. The thing is the prospects of having a rotation that starts with Sabathia and Halladay is almost too good to pass up. If the Yankees can start a short series with Sabathia, Halladay and Burnett they should be in a great position.

I would say as long as you don’t have to give up more than one or at most two players currently on the Major League team the Yanks should do it. Now I wouldn’t want those players to be Joba and Hughes but Hughes, Melky and a couple prospects would be doable. The reason for this is while you obviously are going to have to give up a lot to get Halladay, if the trade also weakens the team for this year then it will hurt their chances of a championship now, the main reason why the trade is being made in the first place. The prospects will be tough to lose as the Yanks really do want to have a strong system but with the way they are playing it would really be a disappointment if the Yankees don’t win it all this year and so making a move to really solidify this rotation will be huge, and while a trade for Halladay can not be expected there should be a move for a quality starting pitcher as the Yanks really can’t have Pettitte and Mitre being their third and fourth starters in the postseason.

Yankees to Play Rays

After an impressive 9-1 run to start the second half of play the Yankees go back within the division to take on the surging Rays. This is not an extremely important series but with their play against the Red Sox being as dreadful as it is, they must take it to the rest of the division to keep it a two team race.

The Yankees have generally played well against the Rays including last season the first of the Rays big turnaround. Also going in their favor is the fact that Sergio Mitre their worst pitcher just pitched so he will not be going for them in this series.

While the Yankees have been playing well, so have the Rays. They have also made some pretty impressive come backs, the highlight of which was a come from behind victory against the Blue Jays where they won 10-9 after trailing 9-1 in the sixth. The Rays also have a good set of pitchers going this series in James Shields, Scott Kazmir, and Matt Garza.

If the Yankees are able to win this series and continue their fine play then they have a good chance of burying the Rays in the division boosting their shot of landing a playoff spot whether it be a return to AL East champion or a wild card birth. This of course is second fiddle to actually beating the Red Sox but if the Yankees can take these games it goes a long way to making up for their deficiencies against the Red Sox head to head, though that is something that should change if they plan on ending the season as world champs.