first_imgAttention Deficit DisorderThe date was May 29 and the New York Yankees had lost 13 of 18 games and stood an embarrassing 14.5 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox. Fans and media everywhere basked in the Yankees’ misery, as the Evil Empire appeared to be falling. Yankees GM Brian Cashman’s $191 million investment was crashing and burning. The Yankees limped along until the all-star break and it seemed October was destined to be Bronx Bomberless for the first time in 13 seasons. After the All-Star break, however, the Yankee bats have come alive, boasting the best second half record in baseball.The Yankees second-half surge has landed them in the thick of things in the AL Wild Card race while remaining within striking distance in the AL East. The Yankees turnaround can be attributed to many factors. The coming alive of left-handed bats, consistent starting pitching and the dominance of closer Mariano Rivera. However, one factor has energized the once dormant Yankees, while providing youthful excitement to a predominantly veteran squad: the insurgence of minor leaguers to the Yankees — marking the first time in decades that New York has relied on young talent to get them to the Promised Land. The second-half resurgence of 24-year-old second baseman Robinson Cano and 23-year-old center fielder Melky Cabrera has stabilized the once incompetent Yankee lineup. Blue-chip pitching prospect Phil Hughes has shown his ability to stabilize the back end of the Yankee rotation. In his second career start, Hughes was forced to leave a no-hit performance in the seventh inning due to injury. Since then he has been somewhat inconsistent, but he has demonstrated his ability to be a star in the big leagues. Designated hitter Shelly Duncan and first baseman Andy Phillips are two more unlikely entrants making significant contributions in pinstripes. The 27-year-old Duncan had spent his whole career in the minors before being called up in late July. In just 48 at-bats, the powerful right-hander has clocked six home runs, giving the Yankees a legitimate power threat off the bench.Phillips, who has made stints with the Yankees sporadically over the last three years, got his chance after first basemen Jason Giambi and Doug Mientkiewicz went down with serious injuries. Phillips has played excellent at first base, hitting at a .288 clip for the year. However, no youngster has impacted the Yankees — and the city of New York, quite like the hard-throwing Joba Chamberlain. The former Nebraska Cornhusker has confused the best of major league hitters with a overpowering fastball and a devastating slider. As converted reliever, Chamberlain has yet to give up a run in his seven appearances, striking out 15 hitters in nine innings of work. Despite his minor league success as a starter, many experts believe he will someday be the heir apparent to the legendary Rivera in the closer role.Whether or not the Yankees will make their way into the postseason remains to be answered. Regardless, the insurgence of young talent has surely made for interesting summer in New York, and it should continue for years to come. Pointless BickeringWill the Yankees make the playoffs?KlugerOf course the Yankees will be playing in October. Winning the division doesn’t look too promising as the Yankees currently sit eight games behind the Boston Red Sox, but the Wild Card is up for grabs. The Yankees lineup has been on fire since the All-Star break and they are showing no sings of letting up. They currently trail Seattle by two games and will host a three game set against the Mariners at Yankees Stadium beginning Monday. Seattle has not been to the postseason since 2001, when they lost to New York in the ALCS. The Mariners inexperience, along with the Yankees favorable September schedule, will allow the Bombers to slug their way to their 13th consecutive postseason. VoelkelThe Yankees are dead in the water. With the American League East pretty much out of reach, the Yuckies’ best shot to make the playoffs for the 5,000th straight season is the Wild Card. If the Wild Card-leading Mariners were going to crack and fall out of the lead, they would have done it already. Seattle has a solid bullpen — a stretch run essential — and a decent lineup. Sure, the Yankees have been hot the last two months, but they won’t keep it up. It’s getting down to crunch time, and Yankee fans know what that means: A-Rod is due to tank. When A-Rod returns to his fall form, the Yankees will not make the playoffs.StatlineTaking a look at one of baseball’s more overlooked statistics, stolen bases allowed by a pitcher, reveals a surprising trend. Of the 20 pitchers in the MLB who have allowed the most stolen bases, 17 of them currently have winning records. Allowing base runners to advance via the stolen base frequently would seem to lead to more runs being scored against the pitcher, meaning more losses and a losing record. What the numbers may reflect, however, is the aggressiveness on the base paths opponents use against a strong pitcher on the mound. Against a lesser pitcher, teams may be content to hold runners, instead moving them via hits and walks, but against upper-tier pitchers (Jake Peavy, Chris Young, and Brandon Webb were all among the top 20) teams may be aiming to take advantage of their opportunities and push runners when they get on. Then again, maybe it’s just a coincidence.Stolen Bases Allowed Leaders1. T. Wakefield, BOS: 322. G. Maddux, SD: 292. C. Young, SD: 294. A. Burnett, TOR: 265. D. McGowan, TOR: 235. B. Webb, ARI: 237. J. Contreras, CWS: 228. B. Kim, FLA: 218. M. Mussina, NYY: 21Words of Wisdom”I’m glad he wore No. 62. I told him it was the year I was born, but he didn’t know that. I appreciate him doing that for me.”–Roger Clemens on Joba Chamberlainlast_img read more