The fact that the New York Yankees have racked up 49 wins with a patchwork lineup, to say the most, is nothing short of remarkable. Still, it's only good enough for fourth place in the stacked AL East.
They're missing almost their entire infield aside from Robinson Cano due to injury, but will finally get some help in the form of the legendary Derek Jeter, who is set to return to NY on Thursday. Despite his shaky performance in his last rehab game in AAA, during which he made two errors, Jeter will hope to improve upon the .211 batting average, and an equally meager .283 slugging percentage, that his replacements have put forth thus far.
Jeter was eager to return, going as far as telling reporters to write about how well he moved so he might fool GM Brian Cashman. But the Yankees are far more desperate for his return.
It's reasonable to think that his return, and the eventual return of Curtis Granderson (at this point, there's no telling about A-Rod), could add enough muscle to make a strong second-half run to close the six-game gap between the Yanks and first-place Red Sox.
So it's possible that, despite all the injuries, it could still be all good in Yankee-land. At least in 2013.
2014 and beyond are much different stories. The gargantuan payroll that the Yankees still possess isn't going to shrink much in the near future, and once-prized assets Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes are no longer the blue chip prospects they once were. A quick look at the age of the replacement players currently on the field shows that the Yankees have a shocking lack of depth, none more glaring than at shortstop.
Jeter's return may allow the Yankees to remember the glory days of the mid-90s, if only for a few months. Cherish that memory, Yankees fans. It might be all you have for a while unless Hal Steinbrenner has invested heavily in cloning technology.