Times are good for the New York Yankees.
Fresh off an 11-game winning streak, the Bronx Bombers find themselves at the top of the AL East with a two-and-a-half-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles.
One of the main contributing factors to their longest winning streak since 1985 is their outstanding, yet somewhat unexpected, pitching from Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova.
In the month of June, the Yankees pitching staff recorded the most saves and wins, the lowest ERA, and the highest number of strikeouts among all American League teams.
Other than C.C. Sabathia, it wouldn't be surprising if the rest of the Yankee rotation comes back to earth. Given that Sabathia has been their most consistent starting pitcher this season, the Yankee organization is looking to bolster the team by trading for another reliable and proven arm.
New York is currently most interested in a trade for the Astros' Wandy Rodriguez. A Yankee scout, along with San Francisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays representatives, attended Rodriguez's last start to get a first-hand evaluation of the pitcher.
Rodriguez has an underachieving record of six wins and five losses this year, while posting a solid ERA of 3.29. He appeals to the Yankees not so much for his win total, but for his consistently low earned run average over the past few seasons with Houston. The 33-year-old would fit in well, pitching behind Sabathia, Kuroda, and Andy Pettitte, having not had an ERA over 4.0 since 2007.
One potential problem with bringing Rodriguez to the AL East is his low number of strikeouts.
He relies more on contact pitching than whipping the ball pass batters. The left-hander would face much stronger hitting lineups than what he's used to in the NL Central. In inter-league play against AL teams, Rodriguez had an ERA around five.
Rodriguez also makes a lot of money. This year, the Houston pitcher is slated to make $10 million, while making $13 million in 2013, before becoming a free agent in 2014. His large contract alone has already deterred many teams from attempting to trade for him.
In return for Rodriguez, the Astros want a younger player who can contribute to the rebuilding of the franchise. Making a deal for him would most likely have to include the Yankees giving up a young pitcher such as Nova or Hughes, both only 25.
The Yankees were also interested in Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster until he was put on the 15-day disabled list because of muscle tightness. A Yankee representative also squashed trade rumors over Dempster, claiming it would only muddy the water.
Another notable Yankee trade rumors include interest in Matt Garza of the Chicago Cubs. The 28-year-old right hander threw strong against AL teams during inter-league play, allowing only six runs in two games against the heavy-hitting Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox. Garza is 3-5 with a 4.07 ERA this season.
The Yankees currently are in first place in the AL East at 41-27.