The New York Yankees didn't make a splash at the trade deadline, but it's likely they added a player to their lineup who puts them in better position to reach the postseason for the 18th time in 19 seasons. Alfonso Soriano was the team's only player acquisition in a very quiet year at the MLB trade deadline.
Soriano is no longer an All-Star caliber player, but he's still an above-average hitter who can knock the ball out of the park. More importantly, he's a right-handed bat—a commodity the Yankees have been pining for this year.
The Yankees are one of the worst teams in baseball versus left-handed pitching. Only recently has Derek Jeter returned from the disabled list, and it's very likely Alex Rodriguez will not play again (or ever) for the Yankees this season.
No Kevin Youkilis, either.
The Yankees are now a better team with Soriano in their lineup, and another upgrade will arrive tonight at Petco Park, as the Bombers welcome Curtis Granderson back to the club. Assuming Granderson can return close to the form that helped him lead the majors in homers from 2011-2012, the Yankees will benefit from his hitting.
New York continues to have one of the best pitching staffs in the American League, led by one of the best pitchers in all of baseball: Hiroki Kuroda. In the entire month of July, Kuroda allowed two earned runs while tossing 33 magnificent innings.
That was good enough for one of the best calendar month performances by a Yankees pitcher in history. Kuroda's brilliance has been remarkable, as night in and night out, he's given the Yankees an opportunity to win.
Will the Yankees make the playoffs?
The question on every Yankees fan's mind right now is: How much will the addition of Jeter, Granderson and Soriano make a difference? Sure, they’re a better team, but will they be enough to make up what is currently a three-and-a-half-game difference for the final AL Wild Card spot?
Teams like Tampa, Boston, Texas and Cleveland have made strong runs of late but likely will not be able to sustain their hot levels of performance. When will the Yankees make their run? Will they be able to make a run at all?
New York has an upper echelon pitching staff, and their lineup will finally boast credible major league hitters. It's also possible the Yankees could look to pry a hitter like Kendrys Morales away from Seattle. Morales is a capable big league hitter, with strong splits from the right side, who would only make the lineup better.
All of a sudden, a top five of Gardner, Jeter, Cano, Soriano and Granderson in the batting order looks quite formidable against most teams in the American League. It looks like Murderer's Row next to some of the duds the Yankees have trotted out there this season.
If the Yankees can stay healthy, it's very reasonable to believe they'll nab one of the final playoff spots in the American League. Perhaps I'm a bit sanguine, but given the Bombers' track record of performance and experience, I'm pitting their playoff odds at 55 percent.