Yankees Daily Briefing 08/20/2011

In his last start, A.J. Burnett was able to manage his first August win as a Yankee, even if he was not particularly effective. He'll attempt to make it two wins in a row as he takes the ball for New York on Saturday, as the Yankees attempt to take the first three of the four game set. Francisco Liriano (8-9, 5.12) will get the start for the Twins.

Discussion of the Day: How would you construct the Yankees' lineup when Alex Rodriguez returns? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Behind Enemy Lines: Jim Souhan writes that the 2011 season for the Twins has been so bad, that it invites yearning for the recent playoff failures. A playoff team, at least, can say it made the playoffs, but the Twins' recent run of AL Central success might be closer to an indictment on baseball's current playoff structure than it is an accurate picture of how good the Twins were. For example, the 2009 Rangers had fewer losses than the Twins but missed out on the postseason because they did not win their division.

1) Wallace Matthews writes that the Yankees can still use the help of Rodriguez's bat, despite the team's success without him.

Indeed, though the Yankees haven't lost more than three in a row since Rodriguez's knee surgery, they have also, for the most part, faced an easy schedule. Outside of three games in Boston, the Yankees haven't faced a likely playoff opponent in that time (the Angels remain firmly on the outside of contention), nor, with the exception of the Red Sox, have they faced particularly potent offenses. Even without Rodriguez, the Yankees have been a good team, getting mostly good results from their starters, excellent work from the bullpen and an offense that's now being bolstered by Derek Jeter's resurgence. When a healthy Rodriguez rejoins the team, they will be that much better.

2) Katie Sharp takes a look at statistical oddities for the Yankees over the past week. Of note: Curtis Granderson becoming the first Yankee ever with at least 20 steals, 30 home runs and 10 triples in a season, CC Sabathia being the first Yankees' pitcher since 2003 to allow five home runs in a game, and Jorge Posada becoming the oldest Yankee to have six or more RBI in a single game.

3) Eric Schultz at The Yankee Analysts takes a look at the way the Yankees spend money on the draft. The Yankees only ranked 16th in terms of total spending for the 2011, perhaps, as Schultz writes, a surprising figure for a team that has the largest payroll in baseball.

There are, however, other factors to consider. The Yankees did not have a first round pick this year -- typically where the most over-slot signings occur. When you combine that with the Yankees' ability to make trades, sign free agents in the offseason and their proclivities in international markets, the lesser amount spend on draft spending may not surprise as much. Ultimately, how the Yankees spend their money is more important than how much of it is spent, and as they are a first place team with a decent farm system intact, one can argue that the Yankees certainly know what they're doing.

4) It was a mixed day for the farm system.

Triple-A Scranton lost to Durham, 7-4.

Dellin Betances made this week's Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet.

Gustavo Molina was designated for assignment to make room for Aaron Laffey on the 40-man roster.

Scott Proctor allowed one run on three hits in an inning of work. He struck out two and did not walk anyone.

Double-A Trenton was postponed due to rain.

Wilkins Arias was demoted back to Trenton while Brad Halsey was placed on the disabled list.

High-A Tampa beat Brevard County, 5-3, while Low-A Charleston beat Augusta, 1-0.

Short Season Staten Island lost to Connecticut, 4-0, while the Rookie GCL Yankees lost to the GCL Blue Jays, 11-1. They also completed a game suspended on August 9th, beating the GCL Blue Jays 2-1.