You know the old joke about a family being so exhausted from a vacation, it needs another vacation just to recover?
Here's a cousin of that line: Never has a team needed a break so soon after the All-Star break as badly as these 2010 Yankees.
The schedule makers helped Joe Girardi and his players in this instance. They could take Monday to relax after the post-break weekend, which featured emotional farewells to George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard, the hustle and bustle of Old-Timers' Day and two straight early departures by starting pitchers - all while taking on the dangerous, second-place Rays.
They treaded water impressively, taking two of three against Tampa Bay to extend their American League East lead to three games. And Tuesday night, with the Angels in town, the Yankees can attempt a return to relative normalcy. They won't forget The Boss or Sheppard - that's why they're wearing the commemorative patches on their uniforms - yet they'll move away from the ceremonial stuff and focus more on baseball.
With the non-waivers trade deadline looming a week from this Saturday, let's assess the Yankees' potential areas of weakness and possible reinforcements.
AgeKeep your eye on the ball. This began as the Yankees' greatest concern, and it remains so. Andy Pettitte, 38, will sit out until as late as September, and Jorge Posada, 38, still hits but has become more brittle. Derek Jeter, 36, and soon-to-be-35-year-old Alex Rodriguez both have dramatically worse numbers this season than they did last year.
The 40-year-old Mariano Rivera? Come on, we all know he's an indestructible cyborg.
The Yankees have coverage at catcher, and their starting rotation is deep. The areas for improvement are clearly the left side of the infield - Ramiro Peña doesn't inspire much confidence, in case of a Jeter or A-Rod injury - and designated hitter. A-Rod, though more productive than Jeter, needs more rest. So third base becomes a priority over a shortstop.
Internally, young prospect Eduardo Nuñez and veteran Chad Tracy wait at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Externally, look to Florida's Jorge Cantu and Wes Helms and Baltimore's Ty Wigginton. Arizona's Adam LaRoche is available as a DH.
Best betHelms, or someone of that caliber (low cost in money and prospects). Think of it like the July 31 trade for Jerry Hairston Jr. last year.
Besides Rivera, the Yankees' relief corps hasn't inspired much confidence at all. If they had acquired Cliff Lee from Seattle, switching Phil Hughes to the bullpen at some point was an option. So Hughes could wind up there in the playoffs out of necessity, even though he's an All-Star starter.
General manager Brian Cashman generally doesn't like trading for relievers, and the market (Pittsburgh's Octavio Dotel, Toronto's Scott Downs and Kevin Gregg) doesn't excite many people. Internally, righty Jonathan Albaladejo has been outstanding for Scranton. Righty David Phelps just arrived in Scranton after a strong showing with Double-A Trenton. Other potential names in the mix are Mark Melancon, Royce Ring and Romulo Sanchez.
Internal, with Albaladejo getting the first shot.
With the Yankees hoping to get Pettitte back by September, they won't be motivated to expend huge capital on a short-term solution. And yes, concern looms over notorious door-slapper A.J. Burnett.
We'll see how Sergio Mitre does Saturday in Pettitte's spot. Ivan Nova and Tim Redding are at Scranton. The trade market is potentially plentiful, with Roy Oswalt, Dan Haren, Ted Lilly, Brett Myers and Jake Westbrook holding different levels of availability.
Internal, for now. However, if Pettitte heals slowly or Burnett pitches poorly in August, someone such as Westbrook could come over in a salary dump.