-Joe Nathan's injury has me thinking, again, about comparing relievers to starters, which isn't really that shocking considering the Joba/Hughes/Aceves/Gaudin/Mitre (seriously, Mitre?) discussion that just doesn't seem to go away.
You'd say that Mariano Rivera was absolutely indispensable to the Yankees; I wouldn't disagree. But last season, he faced 257 hitters, only about 4% of the Yankees team total. A run of the mill starter, Andy Pettitte, faced nearly three and a half times as many. Obviously, Rivera pitched better by nearly every measure, but there is a quality vs. quantity scale that needs to be measured. The ability to pitch a lot of innings is worth something, and while it certainly doesn't bridge the gap, it does serve to close it a bit.
What am I getting at? Take a statistic like WARP, which does account for both quality and quantity, and look at Joba Chamberlain. Do you realize that his stellar performance during his 2007 call-up was worth just slightly more overall to the Yankees than his admittedly mediocre 2009 season? Look it up.
Criticize WARP all you like, I'm not saying it's the be-all, end-all, but it does illustrate my point. Nobody can be expected to duplicate Mariano Rivera's performance, so if anybody - Joba, Hughes, or Aceves - can emulate Andy Pettitte at this stage of his career (leage average ERA, 6 innings per start), he's going to be more valuable as a starter.
-How meaningless are Spring Training games, meaningless, or really meaningless? I don't know. The good news is, although the Yankees lost to the Pirates yesterday, it was against some semblance of the Pirates expected Opening Day lineup.
Even better, though, these games don't count. Enjoy the return of baseball (and unfortunately, the return of non-stop rumors and speculation too), but relax. Just like real games aren't determined by who does the best in batting in practice, don't put too much stock in any of the numbers that anybody's putting up, at least not until maybe May or June.
-Here's an awesome website if you have some free time to browse, and if you've ever collected baseball cards in the past. As a side note, as you look through pictures of players from the 60's and 70's, think about which current team uniforms and hairstyles we're going to look back at and cringe in 20 years.