Report cards on the performance of players in the first half of the season are a popular way to fill space during the All-Star break.
But it's always struck me as a bit odd to use this period to look backward. With the second half, stretch run and playoffs ahead of us, it really doesn't seem all that interesting to discuss how your second baseman was hitting in April.
It's far more interesting to use performances as a gauge for what will come and that's why I'm going with a stock report that suggests whether to buy, sell or hold various Yankees players as the second half gets underway. I'll start off with our strongest buy.
BUY - Robinson Cano might have gotten booed in Kansas City, but you won't be hearing any such reaction once he makes his way back to the Bronx. The second baseman will challenge for the MVP Award and continue to make himself the centerpiece of this Yankees team even as his double play partner plays the face of the franchise.
HOLD - Speaking of that double play partner, it is hard to get a read on Jeter right now. He was brilliant in April, pretty bad in May and June and showed some signs of life in the first week of July. All of that adds up to a wait-and-see situation for the Yankee captain.
SELL - You could make an argument that Russell Martin is due for a rebound in the second half because his peripherals are essentially the same as they were last year and because his batting average on balls in play is abnormally low. Though that would ignore the fact that he's also pretty close to the player who was awful for the Dodgers in 2009 and 2010, and that maybe 2011's modest offensive success was actually the outlier.
BUY - The Yankees' left field mix has been more varied than they anticipated, but they have an answer for every need in Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones and DeWayne Wise. Figuring out playing time will be tough once Brett Gardner's healthy, but every option should be a winner as long as the Yankees keep playing to their strengths.
HOLD - Mark Teixeira would normally be a cautious buy because of his career-long habit of starting slow, but he was actually better in May than he was in June. The fact that Teixeira's not putting the ball in the air as much and walking less for the second straight season suggests that the defensive shifts he's facing have changed the way teams pitch to him as well as what he can do with those pitches.
SELL - Alex Rodriguez still provides the Yankees with value, but it is hard to ignore the fact that he has fewer extra base hits than Ibanez despite having more than 100 more plate appearances. A spike in performance isn't any more likely than a continued slide for A-Rod and, based on his age, the latter might even be the odds-on favorite scenario.
BUY - For most of his time with the Yankees, Ivan Nova has looked like a pitcher who wins games because of those around him. But his last seven starts have seen him winning games on his own, a significant step forward for a young pitcher who should continue to improve as he gets more comfortable with his own abilities.