Second-half storylines

By Jon Lane
The Yankees are 14 games over .500. They are three behind the Red Sox in the American League East and lead the Wild Card by two-and-a-half over the Rangers. Their 495 runs scored, 132 home runs, 358 on-base percentage and.471 slugging percentage lead the Major Leagues, and their 25 road victories are  tops in the American League.

Life is good in Yankeeland, but not great. Both the Wild Card and division races will be fierce, and in the AL East, you cannot dismiss the Rays. Will the Yankees have the legs to return to October? Here are five storylines for the second half:

Will the Yankees reverse their fortunes against the Red Sox?
This is ugly: The Yankees are 9-19 against the Red Sox, Tigers, Angels and Phillies – all first-place teams – as well as the Rays. They resume the season tomorrow against Detroit at Yankee Stadium and still have to deal with the Angels in Southern California in mid-September. Anthony McCarron presented the brutal truth in today’s New York Daily News. Among the cliff notes, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte are a combined 3-10 with a 5.41 ERA against those elite teams.

This is ghastly: The Yankees are 0-8 against the Red Sox. The last time they saw them was at Fenway Park in June. They arrived to Boston in first place and with the AL’s best record, and hungry for revenge. Instead they were blown out 7-0 and dropped the next two games each by one run. Never mind the dormant offense, something was affecting the Yankees psychologically from where I sat.

The teams play 10 more times starting August 6 at Yankee Stadium. Since the Rays and Rangers won’t go away, how the Yankees perform against their rivals may determine who wins the AL East -and who misses the October party.

Will the Yankees reverse their fortunes against the Red Sox?(online surveys)

Will they pull the trigger for Roy Halladay?
Will Roy Halladay become a Yankee? Probably not. Do the Yankees have to have him? No, but they must explore every angle on what it’ll take to get him. As Bill Madden wrote today, “The teams that seemingly have the biggest need and are the best fits for a premier player coming on the market aren’t necessarily willing to pay the premium price, leaving the trading club no choice but to take the best package available.”

Outside of Sabathia and Burnett, there are growing holes in the Yankees’ rotation. Fans have spoken out against Brian Cashman dipping into his farm system he so painstakingly rebuilt, but as I suggested the other day, I’d offer Chamberlain, Austin Jackson and Jesus Montero only because it’s Roy Halladay. When you make a deal like this, it’s painful, but it’ll be worth a front three of Doc, CC and A.J. – not to mention the reunion of Halladay and Burnett.

Will they pull trigger for Roy Halladay?(poll)

Can Joba Chamberlain turn it around?

Go ahead, members of the Loyal Order of the Joba to the Bullpen Army, gloat. Chamberlain is struggling mightily as a starting pitcher. Alas, barring a complete collapse he’s staying in the rotation because that’s where he’s needed and Phil Hughes isn’t moving anywhere. Since June 1, Chamberlain has reached the seventh inning just once in seven starts and his body language has been terrible. But the Yankees are staying the course. The learning curve is a lot slower for some compared to others, but how much longer can they afford Chamberlain throwing 100-plus pitches in under five innings?

Can Joba Chamberlain turn it around?(trends)

Is this Andy Pettitte’s last ride?

Andy Pettitte has won just one of his last four starts while seeing his ERA balloon from 4.26 to 4.85. His numbers in June: 2-2, 5.06; this month: 1-2, 7.27; in two starts against the Angels: 0-1, 9.90.

His next start will be against the Orioles next week. If he doesn’t pick it up in the second half, you’ll have to wonder if at age 37 his career would be coming to an end. Pettitte is signed for only one year, this after contemplating retirement and the Yankees firm in their stance of offering only a one-year deal to return.

Is this Andy Pettitte’s last ride?(online surveys)

Will Chien-Ming Wang salvage a rough 2009 season?

Sabathia is 1-2 with a 5.59 ERA in three July starts, but remember what he did last year in Milwaukee in the second half (11-2 with a 1.65 ERA and the Brewers were 14-3 in his starts). He is capable of carrying a staff and the way Burnett has performed (two runs or less in five straight starts; 6-2, 2.00 in his last eight), he’ll have help.

Beyond that, there’s Chamberlain, Pettitte and who knows? Sergio Mitre will likely provide a band-aid until (or if) Chien-Ming Wang returns. The Yankees need Wang, and not just in body, but in spirit. At 1-6, Wang has shown little to nothing of the form that won him 46 games over the past three seasons.

Will Chien-Ming Wang salvage a rough 2009 season?(survey)



    Wow based on those stats and what was said it’s amazing that we are 14 over and lead the wildcard. But we definitely need to have a better 2nd half if we wanna play baseball in october.


    If the Jays get Chamberlain, I’ll bet they turn him into their closer eventually. This is what the Yankees SHOULD have done.

    You don’t mess with a good thing, and unfortunately, the Yankees did just that. Joba had proven he was dynamite out of the pen in the setup role ahead of Mo. They Yanks toyed with that, and they got burned. They’ll be lucky if that kid ever returns to any kind of salvageable form.

    It’s a shame. Hughes could be in the rotation right now, and Chamberlain would be setting up for Mo. That way, the Yanks would be down one starter, instead of trotting a lame duck out there every 5 days wearing a Joba mask, and being down 2 starters (for all intents and purposes).

    Chamberlain is useless in his current role. That sad and obvious story has played itself out on the big stage since April. Might as well include him in a package for Halladay, because right now he’s doing more harm than good. Didn’t have to be that way. And it’s unfortunate that the Yankees will not admit they made a mistake. They’ll just keep sending Joba out there until he’s completely ruined. Like I said/……..sad.

  3. sauceynuggets

    Joba is going to be a #1 type starter. You gotta be kidding me with this nonsense, he’s has not pitched long enough to say he is a bust.


    I’d like to start by saying I never made any comments in these forums. I have read what fans have said and spoke to each other in the Daily News & Post when commenting and having a differenece of opinion. Down right rude. It’s really disgusting and a sad commentary on what sports and repsect for others have become in our society. Enough said about this.

    But this Joba issue is one that I have felt strongly about from the beginning. When you look at the stats from last year from Bruney, Joba & MO, it was lights out a no brainer. A 6 inning game again like it was in the last glory days. Yes when all were healthy. So the feeling for this year should have been even more positive. OK Bruney is not himself right now, but he will be back to form.

    I understand about potential and patience, that Joba is only 23 and has 4 quality pitches and he wants to start… Yankee brass believe he can a front line starter. You can say that he was a starter in college, but many shortstops ands centerfielders and other position players are too, so being a starter in college doesnt necessarily translate into Major league starter.

    What we saw is a young dynamic man coming out of the pen full of energy blowing people away. His temperment and makeup for that roll were like a marriage made in heaven. He reminded me of Goose a llot in his approach , here it is, try to hit it. He was as exciting to watch as we have seen anyone in Yankeeland for a long time.

    Now we see him struggle and we are told be patient, he has the potential to be front-line starter. So in the next 4-5 years will he leap ahead of CC & AJ or even Wand when he returns to his form again?? And Wang will be back, he is too good of a player. So at best he will be a 4th starter maybe 3rd depending on how Wang recovers.

    Watch him, his body language and temperment show us something different. We took a dominator from the pen and tried to make him into something he is not metally best suited for. It’s like trying to pimp a volkswagon into a BMW or Samson’s hair being cut off. We took his strength away by putting him the rotation and distroyed his make up and confidence. And the media is eating this kid up. Its a pity, his strengh is in the pen and he helps the team there more. Yankeee fans loved and drooled seeing him come out in the 8th and blow everyone away. Until the recent emergence of Phil Huges we didnt have that. But just image a healthy Bruney, Huges & Joba and of course MR. Reliable Mo. Hell if all are performing as they have shown, it could be a 5 inning game,, haha
    Lets get back to the future the experiment hasnt worked.


    If the Yankees would put Joba back into the bullpen and let hiom be the set up man for Rivera is the most practical thing to do. Unfortunately, they have attempted to take someone of his demeanor and attempt to turn them into smething they are not. Joba has proved he is a fantastic setup man. And he has also proven he can not be countedon as a starter. Guarantee if Boston had him he would be sitting up for Papelbohn. Without the Yankees admiitting to their errors in the first half of the season; it is only going to be another frustrating season for their fans. You would hope that they would learn from their mistakes. Maybe the Steinbrenners will step in and make some decisions for Cashman and Giradi.

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