A thousand miles away from cringe-inducing Jeremy Lin plays-on-words, the 2012 Yankee season officially started today as pitchers and catchers reported for duty at Tampa training camp.
The media hurricane surrounding the Knicks phenom has overshadowed the other noteworthy New York sports news story of the week. After all the offseason speculation about piecing together the Yankee starting rotation, there was one notable absence at camp: A.J. Burnett. The troubled righty was traded earlier this week to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for two minor leaguers.
The trade came as a relief to many Yankee fans, myself included. We’re looking forward to seeing what new additions Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda can bring to the rotation.
Burnett, pending a physical, will be sent to Pittsburgh in exchange for reliever Diego Moreno and outfielder Exicardo Cayones. The Yankees stand to eat $20 million of the remainder of Burnett’s contract for the privilege of dumping him on the Steel City.
Many seem to think the low-profile setting will be the best thing for Burnett. Signed to the Yankees at the same time as close friend CC Sabathia, he never seemed to fall into a comfortable groove in the Big Apple. Burnett was 34-35 with a 4.79 ERA as a Yankee.
With Burnett history, the Yankee starting rotation will most likely shape up as follows: Sabathia, Kuroda, Pineda, Ivan Nova, and Phil Hughes/Freddy Garcia. Kuroda should win the coveted number two slot over Pineda and Nova strictly because of sheer experience. However, expect the two young right-handers to bring their A-game to spring training.
The fact that the Yankees have four-fifths of their rotation basically set in stone is worlds away from where they were at the end of last season. At the time, it seemed as though Sabathia was the only sure thing, what with the ever-present Burnett question marks, Hughes’ health problems, and the second-half mediocrity of Garcia and Bartolo Colon. (Colon has not been resigned.)
The beefed-up rotation also takes some of the pressure off the slimmed-down Sabathia. (He lost ten pounds. It’s a start.) In a sense, if the mighty should fall, the Yanks won’t have to wait four games before hoping for a win.
Let’s face it: Linsanity is going to die down one of these days. If it doesn’t and the Knicks win the championship, it’s a sure sign that the apocalypse is upon us. But in all likelihood it will, and all we’ll have left is the Yankees.
So get that Jeter jersey out from the back of your closet. Spring has sprung.