The late-inning comeback in Tampa, Fla. on Monday night changed the headlines for the Yankees, but it didn't do much to alter the fine print.
Bad A.J. Burnett showed up in the first couple of innings and spotted the Rays a big lead with his trademarked blend of wildness and a fastball that just hung out on the fat part of the plate like a T-bone steak. Burnett once again showed that reliability isn't his strong suit on the mound.
Burnett's start meant that the Yankees had three bad outings out of five in the first trip through the rotation in the second half of the season. With the trade deadline drawing ever closer, you can feel the pressure to get a starter building on Brian Cashman.
The problem is that Burnett, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia are exactly the kinds of pitchers that would be available if they weren't already on the Yankees. Without a clear upgrade, it doesn't make much sense to make a deal.
Anyone following the trade breezes knows that there's one big exception to the above paragraph. Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies is 27, signed for the next several seasons to a reasonable contract and has rebounded from a rough start to the season to post numbers right in line with his breakout 2010 season.
That might have you wondering just why Colorado is looking to deal him, a fair question answered by their reported request of Ivan Nova and the three best Yankee prospects -- catcher Jesus Montero and pitchers Manuel Banuelos and Dellin Betances -- in return for his services. They are asking for the moon because they know they have an asset and because they'll be just fine if the Yankees don't bite.
They shouldn't bite at that price, but that won't make the rotation any better equipped to deal with the stretch run and playoffs. There might be more appealing options on the relief market, although there doesn't really appear to be anyone who would be a serious difference maker if the rotation doesn't do a better job.
While everyone has been worrying about the pitching, an old problem with the lineup has returned to life. Jorge Posada's resurgent June (1007 OPS) has given way to a July (362 OPS) that is even worse than his brutal first two months of the year.
You could argue that July is a small sample size, but so is June and the overall picture doesn't say much for Posada's future as a productive offensive player. When you throw in the lack of help from Andruw Jones, signed to hit lefties and hitting no one but Jo-Jo Reyes of the Blue Jays, and it isn't hard to see the Yankees making a move to shore up the lineup.
Complicating matters even more is the prolonged slump of Mark Teixeira, who drove in his second run of the month on Monday night. He's a better bet to rebound than the other two players, but it does seem like opponents have a good book on how to pitch and defend him without much adjustment coming from Teixeira.
Despite some reports to the contrary, it doesn't look like Carlos Beltran will be the answer. There are going to be a lot of righty hitting outfielders on the market this month, though, and some of them project to be an offensive upgrade over the guys the Yankees are currently running out on a nightly basis.
Building up the offense while ignoring mound shortcomings hasn't worked out for the Yankees in the past (see 2005-2007), but the Yankees might not have much choice in the matter.