clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman should not let the Yankees’ upcoming stretch dictate their course of action

Another week, another “crucial” stretch. Maybe the Yankees are just a .500 team.

New York Yankees v Cleveland Indians Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Yankees will come out of the gates to start the second half of the season on a ten-game homestand against playoff perennial clubs aiming for first place in their respective divisions. For the Yanks, now seven and a half games out of first, it is a time to engage in the all-too-familiar: use a “crucial” home stretch to reveal their true identity and figure out where they stand in terms of a playoff berth.

Does this upcoming stretch against the likes of Boston, Baltimore, and San Francisco have the potential to reveal the direction the Yanks are heading in the rest of the way? Possibly, but more possibly not. Or, in the all-too-likely scenario, we can expect a 5-5 finish to further solidify the Yankees place as a .500 team, where they currently stand now.

Taking three out of four games in Cleveland is an encouraging accomplishment. Like Jacoby Ellsbury said after Sunday’s win, it is momentum they can take through the break and into the second half of the season as continue their stretch against top quality teams, two of them being division rivals.

The problem is, time is running out on this “wait until next stretch of games” technique. The trade deadline is fast approaching, and the Yankees cannot afford to get caught sleeping and wake up in August realizing they did not retool for an improved 2017 campaign.

This is not a small sample size we are looking at here. We are 88 games into the season, and the Yankees find themselves at 44-44. That is likely the identity they claim to still be searching for. Sure, ten straight games against winning opponents can help clear up a picture as to where they stand and where they need improvement. However, it is already clear the Yankees need to improve their aging roster.

We’ve heard this battle cry before, back when the Yankees began a stretch of opposite tone, when they hit the road for games against the lowly Rockies and Twins. That week concluded with the Yankees going 6-5, and raising more questions than answers.

If Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman want to use that same mantra for this upcoming stretch, they better look at the big picture. Ten games is a small sample, regardless of the quality of opponent. Almost ninety games is a much clearer measurement of where a team is at, and the Yankees can no longer hide behind “we still haven’t played our best baseball yet”.

Let’s say the Yankees come out of their ten game stretch with an impressive 7-3 record. Then what? Do they declare the delayed arrival of their full potential and ride the rest of the season out chasing a wild card berth, with little changes made for the sake of the future?

The White Sox took similar approach last season when they felt they could make a run after a 17-8 stretch that propelled them to the .500 mark. After staying mute at the trade deadline, a 2-8 stretch ensued, along with another playoff absence, and the decision against retooling is still affecting them today, as they find themselves right around where they were last year: the limbo of .500 baseball.

The Yankees can learn something from Chicago’s stint of mediocrity. Sometimes it’s better to make moves that improve next year’s team and avoid another tormented season of figuring out where exactly you stand with the rest of the league. Regardless of the outcome of this upcoming stretch, it is fairly clear where these Yankees stand.

The Yanks have valuable talent who will no longer be under contract after this season, like Carlos Beltran and Aroldis Chapman. Cashman should not use this upcoming stretch as a barometer to determine whether to consider offers for them, or anybody else.

After almost a week off, a refreshed Yankees team could carry their momentum into the Boston series and beyond, before showing their age as the rest of the season progresses. This stretch should not dictate the expected outcome of the season. The Yankees have shown who they are, and the time is nearing to take that evidence and improve for the future, instead of waltzing around .500 for another season.