Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Yankees Nearing Bottom of Ninth

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Yankees Nearing Bottom of Ninth

Article excerpt

There are 74 games remaining in the regular season, but the Yankees' second-half course could be shaped within these next two weeks.

With the clock ticking toward the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline, it's a critical hour for the fourth-place, .500 club in the Bronx. Here's a look at what to watch for in the second half.

BUY OR SELL: Trading off assets in midseason to fuel someone else's pennant drive never has occurred on Yankees general manager Brian Cashman's watch. They've never finished below .500 in the wild- card era, so there is always the incentive to go for it.

On June 20, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said he felt the Yanks would be "right smack in the middle of it come the end of July." How he defines that will impact Aroldis Chapman and Carlos Beltran, the two most marketable Yankees whose contracts expire at year's end.

"As a manager, you're always looking to fight for a shot," Joe Girardi said in advocating his position. "I can express my opinion [to management]. I don't do it publicly. But you always want a shot."

A-ROD'S ROLE: Alex Rodriguez exited the first half as a bench player, making as many starts on the last 10-game road trip - one - as backup infielder Ronald Torreyes. But A-Rod also departed with a somewhat defiant statement: "My time will come. I'll be ready when they call my name."

For now, that call is coming only when the Yankees face a lefty starter. And going forward, there's incentive to free up the designated hitter spot to afford Beltran more at-bats and to provide a break for Mark Teixeira.

Rodriguez turns 41 on July 27 and he'll make $20 million in 2017, the final year of his contract. He's stuck on 695 homers and will be due another $6 million from the Yanks if he reaches Babe Ruth at 714. Will it get to the point where the Yanks would cut ties before next spring training?

THE ROTATION: The Yankees might want to build in an extra day of rest for Masahiro Tanaka on more occasions. …

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