Things have been going well for the Yankees lately. Sitting atop the AL East with a 31-22 record, the team has been strong in every facet of the game. Although hampered by injuries, the offense has been lethal. Their .282 team batting average is third in all of baseball, their 82 home runs are second only to the Texas Rangers (by two dingers), and their 285 RBI total is tied for the most in the MLB with, oddly enough, the Tampa Bay Rays. The team has shown both power and patience as an ethos, posting a .359 team OBP that is third in the MLB and a .842 team OPS that is by far the best in baseball, 21 points higher than that of the second place Philadelphia Phillies.
And while the Yankees star-studded pitching staff struggled early in the season, they have since settled in well. CC Sabathia is on his way to another excellent season with his ERA down to a respectable 3.46 and his WHIP at an impressive 1.14. The ERA of A.J. Burnett (4.69) is higher than the team would like but that number is misleading.
Burnett has given up too many runs — mostly due to his 11 surrendered home runs — but otherwise his numbers are good. AJ has given up 67 hits in 71 innings and has walked only 32 batters while striking out 65. Burnett has had some bad luck this season and also some difficulty adjusting to the "quirks" of the new Yankee Stadium, but his numbers show that eventually the ERA should come down and the pitcher should put in one of his typical solid, strikeout-heavy season.
Even the defense — a attribute in which the post-dynasty Yankees have been anemic — has been historically good this year. A Jorge Posada throwing error on Tuesday night ended the streak of 19 errorless games by the New York squad, besting the previous all-time record of 18 set by the 2006 Boston Red Sox. While the outfield possesses no arms of great note -- aside from arguably Melky Cabrera — the collective unit has first rate speed, coverage, and instincts. The infield, enormously improved by the addition of first base savant Mark Teixiera, has been air-tight, featuring range and precision — regardless of what the critics claim about Jeter at shortstop.
But even with the machine working at full capacity, firing on all cylinders, manager Joe Girardi faces a decision that will ultimately have a massive impact on his teams' eventual fortunes in 2009. Now that Chien-Ming Wang is healthy what should he do about the starting rotation? While possessing six capable pitchers for five rotation spots is a problem that any manager would seemingly welcome, the decision Girardi will make will undoubtedly be looked at as a direct cause of the Yankees' final standing, whatever that happens to be. The relation of this to Girardi's job status need not be expounded upon.