Commentary

For Yankees, it may be time for Plan A

Consecutive stinkers from Colon and Garcia could see Bombers move on Jimenez

Updated: July 16, 2011, 10:18 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

TORONTO -- Since the Toronto Blue Jays appeared to be stealing signs Thursday, Joe Girardi ordered catcher Russell Martin to use more complicated signals Friday even when the bases were empty.

Girardi tried to protect starter Freddy Garcia against Toronto's thieves. Instead, it ended up robbing Garcia of his rhythm.

"We changed the signs all the time so it is hard sometimes to get into a rhythm," Garcia said after the Yankees' 7-1 loss to the Jays, in which he allowed six runs (five earned) in five innings on seven hits (five doubles). "They hit the ball well. No excuses."

[+] EnlargeUbaldo Jimenez
Doug Pensinger/Getty ImagesUbaldo Jimenez, who was the NL starter in the 2010 All-Star Game, could be in the Yankees' immediate future.

No excuses, but it is two starts into the second half and the Scrap Heap All-Stars, Garcia and Bartolo Colon, are 0-2 with the trade deadline two weeks from Sunday.

The Yankees' Plan A for this season might have to be enacted. The goal all year was for Garcia and Colon -- or whomever they could find -- to help the Yankees make it to July within striking distance in the American League East and wild card before landing a big-time starter.

Even if the Yankees fail to receive another quality pitch from Garcia and Colon all year, the ancient duo already has done its part. But two starts into the second half, Garcia and Colon are questions.

"Let's not make too much of it," Girardi said.

But Joe, it's magnified, because the deadline is only two weeks away and a relatively big name might be available. The Yankees, according to the New York Post, were one of 17 teams with a scout to watch Colorado Rockies righty Ubaldo Jimenez on Thursday.

Jimenez is only 27 and started the All-Star Game for the National League last year. This year, he has struggled overall (5-8, 4.08 ERA) but has pitched well lately.

In his past five starts -- including his seven innings of two-run ball at Yankee Stadium three weeks ago -- his ERA is 2.70. He has struck out 32 and walked just 10 in 33 1/3 innings.

In his past 38 1/3 innings, he has allowed just one homer.

Jimenez is in the midst of a four-year contract that is worth $10 million. The deal has club options that could take it through 2014. He can top out at $9 million in the final season, which would give the Yankees a potential young stud for quite some time.

There is, however, the question of how Jimenez's NL stuff will translate in the AL East. He started once against the Red Sox last year and gave up six runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. But he beat the Rays in 2009, going 6 2/3 innings and allowing one run.

With top catching prospect Jesus Montero's stock falling in the minors, could Cashman offer the young catcher as the kingpin in a multiplayer proposal for Jimenez? The reason to build a farm system is to fill needs. So it seems plausible even at this early rumor stage.

Cashman loves to develop his guys, but he has shown a willingness to include Montero in deals (see Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay). The Yankees are seemingly the only ones who think Montero can catch in the majors.

Colon and Garcia gave the Yankees a very good first half, and Girardi is correct in pointing out the second half of the season is shorter. So maybe the past two nights were just blips.

Colon, though, has just 10 post-All-Star starts in the past six years. Garcia faded in the second half of last year, becoming a five-inning pitcher with a bloated ERA.

On Friday, Garcia couldn't find his rhythm or his splitter. The Yankees felt the need to advance the sign-stealing chess match and defend against the Jays' thieving nature.

Garcia rarely pitches well at Rogers Centre. In his previous four starts, he'd allowed 22 runs in 19 innings.

"I've never had a good feeling here," Garcia said.

For two games, the Yankees haven't had a good feeling, either. They were again sloppy behind their starter. Brett Gardner threw to the wrong base in the first and allowed a run to score. Russell Martin overthrew third in the fifth, giving away another.

Martin tried to make Garcia comfortable, but it never happened.

"We did have a hard time getting in rhythm," Martin said. "We were going multiple signs from the get-go and stuff. It was the first time we had done it together, so it kind of slowed down the game a bit. It is not an excuse."

No excuses. But there also is not a lot of time to figure out whether the Yankees have enough pitching to get them to October or whether they need to clear out part of the farm to go get Jimenez.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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