Spring Training officially begins today as pitchers and catchers report to the Yankees training complex in Tampa, Florida. Doesn't it just feel warmer thinking about it?
- The biggest question facing the Yankees is: Who will be the fourth and fifth starters? Wally Matthews tackled that issue -
[It's] all because one pitcher decided to take someone else's money and another decided it was time to stay home with the family.
Which leaves us where we are today, at the beginning of a (minimum) eight-month journey with CC Sabathia as the only reliable guide.
How long this journey lasts, and where it will end, depends in large part on the quality of [pitching] support the Yankees can drum up for Sabathia.
- Ivan Nova is a favorite to win one of the vacancies -
The team thought so little of him that it didn't protect him in the Rule 5 draft in 2008, and he was selected by the Padres, before eventually being returned to the Yankees. After that back-and-forth, Nova posted his first truly strong showing, in Double-A Trenton in 2009. He was pounded during a 2009 promotion to Triple-A but bounced back with a strong first half, culminating in his major-league debut.
Nova uses his sinking fastball to induce plenty of groundballs, and he complements his sinker with a curveball and changeup. He'll have some security-by necessity, it would take a truly abysmal spring and some surprising performances by other pitchers for Mr. Nova to lose his spot in the rotation-but once the season starts, Nova will have a scant few months to show that he belongs.
I liked what I saw from Nova last season, and believe he can be a competent back-end starter capable of throwing 180+ innings with a sub-5.00 ERA.
- A dark horse that rarely gets talked about is Mark Prior, who is still only 30. He has a chance to make the team as a reliever and pull off a comeback similar to his ex-teammate, Kerry Wood. You might remember that Prior was the "Strasburg" of his day, compiling a 2.74 ERA (154 ERA+) in his first two seasons (24-12, 328 ip, 11 K/9, 3 BB/9) at the ages of 21-22.
- YES broadcaster Michael Kay married anchorwoman Jodi Applegate at The Plaza in New York. Attendees included Darryl Strawberry, Rudy Giuliani and Hal Steinbrenner. To our readers: What's your best Kay-ism for this occasion?
- George King posed the "10 most pressing matters" for the Yankees as Spring Training begins. While I disagree with some of his answers, the questions are still food for thought.