New York Yankees News & Notes: 2/20/13

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

Pitch Selection is Important: The Yankee Analysts look back on Ivan Nova and his inconsistent 2012 season, and they determined that a lot of his problems stemmed from erratic pitch selection and a lack of confidence in his out pitch. When he began to struggle he started throwing his fastball more, which was easier to hit than his curveball and slider, so he gave up more hits. He also began to use it more when he was behind the count and he ended up paying for that mistake. He needs to develop confidence in his slider so that he can use it to get more swing and misses without thinking he has to rely on his fastball.

Pick the Pitcher or Pick the Prospect: The Greedy Pinstripes explore the idea of signing Kyle Lohse since no one seems to want him. The Yankees could probably get him at a relatively valuable contract and be able to secure their rotation past this year when CC Sabathia will be the only sure thing. Lohse will require a draft pick, but since the Yankees are already getting draft picks from the Indians for Nick Swisher and the Nationals for Rafael Soriano, the team can afford to give up one in return for securing their rotation in the present.

Don't Extend Cano: The Yankees should not sign Robinson Cano to an extension, at least until they know that the money they take on will not completely destroy the team's ability to compete. The team needs to know what they'll be getting from their other mega contracts (Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and Alex Rodriguez) and their farm system before they think they can sink another giant deal onto the payroll. If Cano and the rest fall apart, then it extremely limits their ability to compete and the Yankees might enter a period of ineffectiveness when their payroll can't afford upgrades. If the farm system starts to produce promising players then the Yankees can worry about having to allocate more money to more players and then could focus on Cano even more.

Slow Starters: Yanks Go Yard takes a look at the early season numbers for the notoriously slow starters on the Yankees. We know by now that Mark Teixeira's bat just doesn't really show up in April, but CC Sabathia, Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, and Phil Hughes are right there to keep him company with their comparatively worse April statistics.

How to Use Spring Training Stats: Sometimes people take Spring Training statistics too seriously. Good players play poorly and bad players play well, but due to small sample size, pitchers experimenting, weaker competition, and relaxed play, all those stats aren't very reliable. Statistics that can be interesting to watch are fastball velocity, strikeout rates, and walk rates, though they certainly aren't definitive truths when trying to evaluate a player. Keep this in mind when Spring Training games start this weekend, otherwise you'll drive yourself nuts thinking CC Sabathia is broken or Chris Stewart is going to be amazing.

What to Expect: Hiroki Kuroda's first season in New York went better than most could have expected after coming from the spacious NL West parks to the much less pitcher-friendly Yankee Stadium. Thanks to some improved pitch movement that Hirok demonstrated last season, he was able to approach CC Sabathia levels of production, but what can we expect in his encore season? Some regression, probably. He's a year older and familiarity will benefit the hitter. That doesn't mean he won't be very good, it may just mean he'll come slightly closer to meeting expectations than far exceeding them.

Nunez Has a Role: The Yankee Analyst believes that Eduardo Nunez can be effective against lefties as well as give Derek Jeter some time at DH in the early goings of the season. The Yankees will most likely carry either Matt Diaz or Juan Rivera as the regular lefty DH, but Jeter could also use as much rest as possible, so finding a way for Nunez to get into the game might be worth the effort.

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