The topics of conversation around the Yankee blogosphere have been the same for about a month + now, and quite frankly, it's getting a little boring. Yes, the back end of the rotation is a concern, but there ain't much the team can do about it right now. No, Andy Pettitte is most likely not coming back, at least not for the start of the season. And the bullpen and bench have been fortified with the signings of Feliciano, Soriano, and Andruw Jones. With all that being what it is, it's time to move on and focus on stories that haven't been getting their fair shake but are going to impact the upcoming season. Stories like:
1) CC Dropping Weight After His Knee Surgery
CC's weight was a question mark when he was signed, and it has continued to be as his Yankee career has played out. After another year in which he had a heavy workload, Carsten had knee surgery after the season. As part of his rehab, he's reportedly been focusing on dropping some poundage to be in better shape for 2011 and ease the stress on that knee. CC has been successful in the past being a bigger dude thanks to his athleticism and toughness, so him coming into 2011 trimmer and in better shape and presumably with a bit more attention being paid to his workload should spell good things for him.
A notoriously slow starter in Spring Training, I expect this story to start receiving some more coverage once the ST schedule starts up, especially if CC performs better than he has in the past. I also expect that CC's awesome parachute pants will be even parachute-ier in 2011 with 20-30 fewer pounds inside them.
2) A.J. Burnett Contacting Larry Rothschild
Almost as soon as Rothschild's hiring was announced, the next story out was that he and A.J. had spoken and had plans to work together before 2011. Since then, there really hasn't been much else on this topic, which has left me curious. What did they talk about? Did they make plans to meet before ST to work on some stuff? Did Rothschild ask A.J. about the black eye?
The fact that the 2011 rotation looks to be set to start the year means A.J. becomes even more important in helping to share the load at the top of the rotation with CC and Phil. It's high time someone like Joel Sherman or Bryan Hoch get to the bottom of this situation and find out what A.J. and Larry have planned to help Burnett bounce back from one of the worst statistical seasons from a starting pitcher in Yankee history.
3) Kevin Long Getting His Off-Season Program Into Full "Swing"
Get it? "Swing?" Because he's the hitting coach. Huh, huh??
Seriously, though, Dr. Long is already embarking on his preseason hitting tour
with multiple players, including guys like Teix , Jeter, and The A-Horse, who will be coming off of down years, and Jorge, who will be experiencing his first season without the constant body battering that being a full-time catcher comes with.
Long's track record speaks for itself, so guys should be climbing over each other to get the scoop on what he's working on with everybody. Can he find a way to get some speed back into Jeter's bat? Does he have a plan to combat Teix's well-documented cold spells to start a season? Can he get A-Rod's power in his legs back, bad hip and all? If even only one of those questions is answered "yes," it means good things for a Yankee offense that be counted on big time in 2011.
4) Guys Getting Healthy
In addition to CC cutting the McDonald's Dollar Menu out of his food pyramid, there is plenty of other health-related news to cover as it pertains to the Yankee lineup. What's up with A-Rod's hip? How's Teix's hammy feeling? What about Gardner's wrist? And what has Mo been doing in the offseason to prepare his 41-year-old body for another season of sprains and strains?
Guys getting back to 100% and staying there, health-wise, combined with offseason Long work could lead to huge numbers for guys like Teix and A-Rod. It's one thing for guys to say they are good to go, it's quite another to actually see it for yourself. Now is the time to start getting updates on who's in good shape, who's hurting, and who's going to be ready for Spring Training.
5) Jesus Watch
With Russell Martin signed and Frankie still in the roster, Jesus is obviously going to start the year at Triple-A, where he can continue to get innings behind the plate and everyday at-bats. But if the Martin/Cervelli duo gets banged up, or sucks horribly, or if Jesus is lighting it up in the Minors, how long do the Yanks wait to call him up?
The potential for him to come into ST and completely kill it also exists, and that would serve to start a whole new series of rumblings about where he should be playing. And let's not forget about Jorge. Sure, he won't be taking a daily beating behind the plate anymore, but he's still an old fuck and he's probably going to get hurt. If he takes an early DL stint, do you call up The Chosen One and just let him mash? Lotsa options with The Jesus.
6) Joe Updating His Bullpen Matchup Binder
This story is an absolute "must cover" as far as I'm concerned. That binder Joe was toting around in the postseason would have had most high school kids falling over in the hallways and just laying on the ground like turtles if they were carrying it in their backpacks. With the additions of Feliciano and Soriano, plus the likely addition of a new garbage time long reliever, 2011's binder is going to be insane! Whole entire forests will be depleted just to produce the paper needed for its pages. It is truly going to be a thing to behold.
The sooner somebody gets a picture of that thing, the better. If I had to guess, I would bet it's going to look something like this: