By Jon Lane
The Yankees begin the second half of their season tonight at Yankee Stadium, where A.J. Burnett takes the ball against Luke French and the Detroit Tigers (YES HD, 7 p.m.). There are storylines aplenty entering the summer’s dog days, including Burnett, writes Peter Abraham. The right-hander posted a 1.77 ERA in winning his last three starts and is 4-1 with a 1.34 ERA in his past five. For all the talk of CC Sabathia’s importance, and it’s legit, Burnett must continue to show that he’s peaked and is capable of carrying a team.
A few other random thoughts as we gear up for the weekend, which includes Old Timer’s Day on Sunday. I’ll be on-site with lots of blogging and storytelling.
The Yankees hope to emerge from a four-day break recharged after a three-game sweep in Anaheim, where they allowed 29 runs to the Angels that wiped out an eight-game road winning streak. The Tigers (48-39) are a good team in the mold that’s given the Yankees fits. Against the first-place teams they’ve played in 2009, New York’s record is 5-15. Tonight and the weekend is the first of many statement games and series. This is the time of year where business gradually begins to pick up and the next couple of weeks could determine whether the Yankees will be major players at the trade deadline. Those reports you’ve been seeing on how they won’t be pursuing Roy Halladay? Take them with a grain of salt. Brian Cashman loves to fly stealth.
Speaking of Doc, like with any great debate, there are those who want him in pinstripes at any cost, others at only the right price and those who think it’s crazy for Cashman to gut a farm system he so painstakingly rebuilt. Steven Goldman’s message to the Yankees: Don’t do it. As Newsday‘s Anthony Rieber wrote yesterday, the Yankees can and must take on Vernon Wells’ bloated contract to make this happen while preserving the system. But as one fan points out, Plan B — a Brian Bannister or Paul Maholm — is the best route. What do you think?
Alex Rodriguez is once again generating attention, except this time it’s been confined strictly to the baseball diamond, and that’s a good thing. Over his last 17 games, A-Rod is batting .373 (22 for 59) with eight home runs and 22 RBIs. His first game was May 8, yet Rodriguez ranks second on the team in homers (17) and tied for second in RBIs (50), and the Yankees are a league-best 38-22 since his return.
Still, there’s something about the Yankees’ performance against the Red Sox that gnaws at you. Oh, that 0-8 record. And if there’s enough to worry about coming from Boston, beware of the Rays, writes Goldman.
Check back on YESNetwork.com for lineups and updates from the Stadium. And be sure to read about HOPE Week a program designed to promote five remarkable stories and inspire others into action.