Levine: Overachieving Yanks in playoff hunt

NEW YORK -- Yankees President Randy Levine is among those who believe the Yankees have overachieved with their 51-44 record entering the All-Star break.

"I think it's pretty surprising based on the number of injuries we've had, an unprecedented amount of injuries, that the guys are where they are," Levine told ESPNNewYork.com outside Curtis Granderson's Grand Kids Foundation luncheon in Manhattan on Monday. "We're in striking distance of the playoffs, they've played really hard. We've overcome a lot of obstacles. They did their job in the first half."

Six games behind Boston in the AL East and three games out of the wild card, the Yankees enter the All-Star break still in contention. They've done that with a total of one game from Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter and 23 combined games from Granderson and Mark Teixeira. The Yankees have relied on backup players on a nightly basis.

"I think based on the unprecedented number of injuries that they've exceeded expectations, they've over-performed," Levine said.

The big question for the Yankees in the second half is whether the team they currently have is good enough to make up the difference in the standings. For as much as the replacement players helped the Yankees to a 30-18 record out of the gate, they are just 21-26 since. They're currently in fourth place and closer to last-place Toronto than they are to first-place Boston.

"Obviously, we are the Yankees, we can always get better. Get players back from injuries," Levine said. "I know [Yankees GM Brian Cashman] is out looking at trade market. We have a couple of weeks to the trade deadline, but we're always trying to get better. We're only three games out."

Cashman reiterated Monday that the team needs to be better offensively in the second half, and he hopes to add offense at the trade deadline, although that might just come with the return of the team's injured stars.

Rodriguez could be back July 22, and Granderson should return in the next few weeks, potentially in early August. Jeter is nursing a Grade 1 quad strain he suffered last Thursday.

"We look forward to getting guys back, and if I can run into a trade, all the better," Cashman said.

Cashman added that any potential impact player from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has already been called up this season. The Yankees have been very active this season in promoting their minor leaguers, as well as using the waiver wire, in the hopes of finding any position players who can help offensively.

"We're not sitting on our [butt], I can tell you that," Cashman said. "We've been plugging the holes the best we can."

One player on the roster who could boost the Yankees with an improved performance in the second half is starter CC Sabathia, who is just 9-8 with a 4.07 ERA through his first 20 starts.

"He's had some struggles. His velocity was down a little bit. He still has high-end pitch ability," Cashman said. "The home runs [he's given up] are obviously something that's new. I still feel that every time he takes the mound every five days we have our best chance to win. Clearly, the first half wasn't something he's accustomed to having."