Hope everyone enjoyed Labor Day. After a day off on Monday, the Yankees get back to work tonight in their series opener against the Red Sox. A few quick thoughts heading into this home stand.
• On the off day, the Yankees picked up a half game in the division (but they’re still 8.5 games behind Baltimore). What’s far more significant is that the Yankees lost a half game in the wild card standings (because Detroit won) but did gain some ground on the teams ahead of them (because both Seattle and Cleveland lost). The Yankees enter September tied with the Indians four games out of the second wild card.
• In 2011, Joe Girardi moved Jorge Posada to the bottom of the order. In 2012, Girardi benched Alex Rodriguez down the stretch. It’s going to be interesting to see if he’ll make a lineup change in the wake of Derek Jeter’s brutal month of August. Would Girardi consider red-hot Martin Prado in the No. 2 spot? Would he hit Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner back-to-back? I don’t buy the idea that Jeter — or any player — should suggest to the manager that he be dropped in the order. That’s 100 percent on the manager to make the decision. It’s up to the player to believe he’s going to perform in whatever role.
• Perhaps a bigger problem than the lack of offensive production in the No. 2 spot, how about the diminishing power in the clean-up spot? Here’s Mark Teixeira’s month-by-month slugging percentage for this season — April: .487, May: .472, June: .471, July: .375, August: .307. That’s a problem. Teixeira’s not going to hit for a high average any more, so his value has to come from his power. The power was there earlier this year.
• Another chance to watch Shane Greene pitch tonight. No one wants to take a job because another player gets hurt, but that’s often how doors open, and Greene has really taken advantage. I remember talking to a baseball source last winter and I was told to pay attention to Greene because his 2013 numbers were the real deal. He’d taken a significant step forward, and now we’re seeing it in the big leagues. Does a strong month of September basically lock him into a rotation job next season?
• I suppose it makes sense to be careful with David Phelps and his upper-elbow/lower-triceps injury, but I’m still a bit surprised it’s taking so long to get him back in a relief role. I still think he could make another run at the rotation next season. He was pitching really well before the injury.
• New Red Sox starter Joe Kelly is going to make his first career start against the Yankees tonight. I haven’t seen much of Kelly, but I know my friends back in St. Louis were pretty disappointed to see him traded away. He was never remotely the biggest name on the young Cardinals pitching staff, but he was a third-round pick and he’s put up pretty good numbers for three years now.
• Martin Prado isn’t always going to hit like he’s hit these past two weeks or so, but even if he’s not quite this productive, his defensive versatility is a huge asset heading into next season. The Yankees are going to have questions at second base, third base and right field, and Prado could fill any of those spots. Even if he’s more of a No. 7 hitter than a No. 2 hitter, that ability to move around and provide some production is key.
• With September call-ups, the Yankees should be able to give Francisco Cervelli a little more playing time either as the DH or behind the plate (with Brian McCann at DH). I realize it’s time to give either Austin Romine or John Ryan Murphy a chance to win that backup catcher job next season, but Cervelli’s been awfully good this year. Is there a team out there willing to value him as an everyday catcher on the trade market?
Associated Press photos