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Around the Yankee Universe: All-Star break assessments

Our New York Yankees just got swept by those always-annoying Anaheim Angels. Now, since it is the All-Star break, fans have five days to slice it, dice it, gnash their teeth and fret about all the things that are wrong with their favorite team. This can't be a good thing.

As the always-entertaining CYC said in Sunday evening's game thread "no one's a bigger alarmist than the Yankee fan." After the lost weekend the Yankees just had, losing three eminently winnable games, I am going to enter the fray this morning assuming the alarms are going off at the pitch of a five-alarm fire.

Yet, the sun did come up this morning and a look at the standings revealed a situation that is hardly dire. Yes, the Yanks are three games behind Boston in the AL East. No big deal, especially if we can ever win a game or six from the Sox. But, the Yanks would make the playoffs if the season ended today. They are 2.5 games ahead of Texas and 3.5 ahead of Tampa Bay for the wild-card.

So, how bad can things be? As Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News pointed out the other day, the Yankees have had more than their share of misfortune thus far. Yet, right now they are a playoff team. So, things can't be as bad as many of you want to believe.

Now, I know things aren't as good as they could be. I know you are tired of watching the Yankees struggle against the elite teams. Me, too. I know making the playoffs and getting bounced in the first round won't satisfy anyone.

Pete Abe presents the "good, but not good enough" argument in his LoHud Yankees Blog.

The Yankees have played four teams (the Angels, Red Sox, Phillies and Tigers) who lead their respective divisions at the break and they are 5-15 against those teams. That’s why you can’t just dismiss this weekend as just some bad luck.

The idea for a $210 million team in a $1.5 billion ballpark isn’t to make the playoffs, it’s to win them. For now, the Yankees have not been especially competitive against the best teams.

That has to change in the second half. The Yankees have 10 more games against Boston, three against the Angels and three against the Tigers starting on Friday. And don’t forget the nine games left against Tampa Bay.

The Yankees were nine games out after 88 games last season. So while this season has been significantly better, it’s still not good enough.

Tyler Kepner of the New York Times raises a similar point.

At 51-37, the Yankees have the second best record in the American League, behind only Boston. They have the respect of the West-leading Angels, who are even in the loss column at 49-37.

“It’s not like they’re just another team,” the Angels’ John Lackey told reporters. “You have to give them a lot more respect. But I definitely think as a club we play better against better competition.”

The Yankees, we have seen, play worse, and that has to be at least mildly troubling for fans. In nine road games against the Red Sox and the Angels, the Yankees are 0-9. They are 2-12 over all against those teams, and even against the other first-place teams they have faced, the Phillies (1-2) and the Tigers (2-1).

I can buy the arguments made by PeteAbe and Kepner. What I'm not buying, though, is that the Yankees are hopeless, they need Roy Halladay and other wholesale changes. With all their issues, the Yanks look good enough to get to the post-season. So, all is hardly lost. To do anything other than flop miserably once they get there, however, we need to see more. Particularly, more consistent starting pitching.

Here are some other stories making the rounds of the Yankee Universe today.

"I want to be a catcher," he said. "I love to catch. I like to be a catcher. I like to be in the middle of the game. I mean, it's my position. I want to play my position."

  • Sergio Mitre made a terrific case for joining the Yankee rotation next week, pitching 8 brilliant innings Sunday for AAA Scanton-Wilkes Barre. I don't know if Mitre is the answer, but I'd love to see someone fill that fifth slot. The Yankee bullpen is much better when Alfredo Aceves is part of it. Also from that post, Ramiro Pena made his debut as a center fielder Sunday for Scranton.