Masahiro Tanaka (12-3) helped the New York Yankees snap a season-high five-game losing streak by turning in seven innings of quality work on Thursday night at Target Field in a 7-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins, according to a July 4 report from MLB.com. The Yankees are now 42-42, three and a half games behind the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays for first-place in the AL East.
With New York still struggling on all fronts, its clear some improvements need to be made heading into the stretch run. Here's a look at five ways the Yankees can improve their roster before the July 31 MLB Trade Deadline:
1) Sign Wade Miley: Aside from Tanaka, the Yankees' starting rotation has been absolutely brutal. C.C. Sabathia was expected to be the ace of the staff, but he hasn't been able to stay healthy and keep himself on the field. Elsewhere, Hiroki Kuroda is just 5-6 with a 4.08 ERA, and Vidal Nuno has notched just two victories while posting a 5.42 ERA. Enter Diamondbacks pitcher Wade Miley, a 27-year-old flame-thrower who won't cost the Yankees much in terms of young prospects. The Arizona Diamondbacks are 12.5 games out of first-place, so they will certainly be willing to sell.
2) Drop Derek Jeter in the lineup: Here's one improvement the Yankees could make without needing to break the bank. Dropping Jeter in the lineup wouldn't cost them a dime, or even cost a single draft pick. Yankees skipper Joe Girardi has stated in the past that he wasn't hired to hold any pre-retirement parties for Jeter.
He will do what it takes to win now, even it that means disrespecting "The Captain" in the final year of his deal. As Jeter's numbers have dipped, it's clear he should be hitting farther down in the lineup. Sure it's true the Yankees' bats are a far cry from Murderer's Row, but a little shakeup might do them some good.
3) Sign Chase Utley: With the Philadelphia Phillies mired in last-place in the mediocre NL East, they will definitely be one of the few sellers heading into the MLB Trade Deadline. Utley, 35, is in the midst of his finest season in years, and he would be a major upgrade over their current options at second base. The longtime Phillies slugger is hitting .288 through 80 games, with a .347 OBP.
4) Trade for Ian Kennedy: Kennedy, a San Diego Padres starter, has just a 6-9 record in 18 appearances, but he has pitched far better than his record indicates. Besides a 3.87 ERA, Kennedy has walked just 28 and stuck out 116. The Yankees desperately need pitching, and Kennedy would be a nice fit.
5) Secure Brandon McCarthy's services: Pitching, pitching and more pitching. That seems to be the Yankees' plan for retooling their roster before the MLB Trade Deadline, and Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy would absolutely be a serviceable candidate to fill out the back end of the rotation. McCarthy, who holds a 3-10 record, has posted a 5.10 ERA for a woeful Diamondbacks team that will absolutely be a major seller at the trade deadline.