Usually at this point of the offseason, when New York football fades into the night, the Yankees have answered all their offseason questions. Or, at least, they have addressed them.
This offseason, not so much.
With Cliff Lee not a Yankee and Andy Pettitte still yet to decide if he will be once again, the Yankees have a lot of questions. Let's detail five right here:
1. Who are the Yankees fourth and fifth starters?
One will not be Joba Chamberlain. Brian Cashman has made that clear. Ivan Nova of the 1-2, 4.50 ERA in 42 major league innings is the No. 4. Why he is better than Chamberlain for this year doesn't make sense to me? But the Yankees feel Chamberlain's stuff diminishes as a starter.
At the No. 5 spot is Sergio Mitre. Mitre's career numbers are 13-29 with a 5.27 ERA. Now, read those numbers again for Mitre and Nova --- what do they tell you? They say to me the Yankees will add at least one more pitcher in the next three weeks and hope for Pettitte's return.
Meanwhile, the Yankees have a host of arms led by Dellin Bettances, Manny Banuelos and Andrew Brackman that they think could be ready by 2012, if not sooner.
2) What is A.J. Burnett?
He has a ring so the negativity toward him has not reached epic proportions, but he was 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA. If he doesn't deliver this year, he will enter the Pavano Zone. This is new pitching coach Larry Rothschild's biggest test. The guess here is that Burnett will be better (I know, I know, how could he be worse?), but he will be more of a No. 3 or 4, not the No. 2 he was paid to be.
3) Will Derek Jeter bounce back?
You may have heard that Jeter's play was questioned this offseason. He will be 37 after the All-Star Break. If he is not hurt in the first half, he should have his 3,000th hit by then, becoming the first Yankee ever there.
But the focus on Jeter will be about every ball that finds the hole and where his average stands. People who follow the sport closely have been watching these things for awhile. Now, they are mainstream and national. It will be interesting watch.
4) The forgotten man, Alex Rodriguez, also is a year older, what does he have?
Forgotten man? A-Rod? Well, not entirely. But the three questions above will be bigger than A-Rod going into the spring, but Rodriguez has a way of finding the spotlight.
A-Rod hit .270 with 30 homers and 125 RBIs. Not bad, but the average was 33 points worse than his career mark. A-Rod is still very good, but he is not the same player he once was. He still has six years left on his contract. He turns 36 this season.
5) Will Brian Cashman make a move?
Cashman wanted to preach patience, but his bosses said that they wanted to sign Rafael Soriano. Cashman talked about payroll flexibility, but do you really think that Soriano's deal is going to stop the Yankees from acquiring another big-time ace? Very doubtful.
If an ace becomes available, the Yankees will be at the front of the line. Cashman has held his chips for awhile. He will likely be forced to spend them this season in a deal.