Monday, July 9, 2007

And So, Before We End and Then Begin...

Let's drink a toast to how it's been...

Or not.

The Yankees closed the first half (actually, the first 52.4 percent) of the season on an impressive note yesterday, crushing the pesky Angels 12-0. As usual, Ervin Santana had nothing on the road, and the Yanks jumped on him early, riding three home runs, including Alex Rodriguez's 30th, to an easy victory. Chien-Ming Wang was effective, allowing five hits and two walks over 6.1 shutout innings, and clearly solidified his place as the team's ace.

Unfortunately, it's time for a reality check. The Yankees finished their ten-game homestand 6-4, and sit one game under .500 at the All-Star Break. They're 10 games behind division-leading Boston, and 8.5 behind Wild Card front-runners Cleveland, with 77 games remaining. This team is not making the playoffs. Unfortunately, they're also not going to wave the white flag at the trading deadline, meaning they'll be making 2008 and beyond more difficult on themselves. The best the Yankees can hope for is to finish with about 90 wins (still a tall order...they'll have to go 48-29 the rest of the way), within about five games of the Wild Card or division winner.

The Yankees have been somewhat of an enigma, achieving a near-.500 record with long winning and losing streaks, and without any kind of consistency. Are they better than this? Probably. Are they good enough to be legitimate contenders? Probably not.

It's time to take a few days for a midsummer's pause, and consider where to go from here. How can the Yankees improve their chances for next season by July 31? Trade ARod? Trade Melky Cabrera while his value is relatively high? Or simply try to find a living, breathing, non-corpse to spell Jorge Posada once a week?

We'll take a look at those questions and more over the next couple days, as I try to avoid all home-run derby coverage for the next 24 hours.