Trade week in Texas

This is a big week for the Yankees for two reasons:

1. They have a chance to do some damage against two last place teams. First, they face the Rangers again in Texas, and then it is on to Boston.

2. The July 31 trade deadline is this Thursday at 4 p.m. Will they pick up a new right-fielder or another starter by then?

Joe Girardi likes to talk about just winning series, but the Yankees could really use a sweep over the Rangers. The first game on Monday night in Arlington figures to be the toughest. Yu Darvish (9-6, 2.92) is on the mound against David Phelps (5-4, 3.77). After that, the Yankees have the advantage, as Brandon McCarthy (2-0, 1.45) faces Nick Martinez (1-6, 4.73) on Tuesday, and Hiroki Kuroda (7-6, 3.99) takes on Colby Lewis (6-8, 6.23) on Wednesday.

The Yankees don't have much room for error, because they don't appear to be a team that can rip off a big winning streak to move significantly above .500. So they have to find a way to take advantage of the weak clubs on their schedule.

In Texas, they will get an up-close look at Alex Rios. Rios could be a possible trade target for the Yankees. The Rangers had high-level scouts looking at the Yankees' Double-A prospects this week, according to sources. Rios is owed $13.5 million for next year, so Texas probably would need to throw in some cash if they are going to get much of a return in a deal.

Rios, 33, is not a great player. As of Sunday, he had a .756 OPS. While it is not special, it is vastly superior to Ichiro Suzuki's .644 OPS. The Yankees need to add more power in right, because Carlos Beltran does not sound optimistic that he will be able to play the outfield soon. (Joe Girardi, on the other hand, said it is possible that Beltran's right elbow could allow him to be in right by the start of the next homestand on Aug. 4th.)

Meanwhile, the Yankees could use another starter because of the continued uncertainty surrounding the returns of Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda. While the starting staff has been very good since Tanaka has gone out, how much longer can they expect McCarthy, Phelps, Shane Greene and Chris Capuano to excel?

So, by the end of this week, we might know a lot more about how this year might end.