Valentine’s Day Lovefest for the 2017 Yankees

Feb 14, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia (52) smiles as he works out as pitchers and catchers report for spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 14, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia (52) smiles as he works out as pitchers and catchers report for spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Pitching Staff

Masahiro Tanaka continues to excel, even with that partially torn UCL in his right throwing elbow. Going on three years now, it would appear Tanaka and the Yankees’ strength and conditioning coaches have done a fantastic of stabilizing the muscles around the problematic area. When Tanaka finishes another stellar season, which probably leads to an opt out, the club can decide to take the $67M he left on the table and reinvest it in another pitcher (Darvish), or throw it back at Tanaka, albeit with another $100M attached. At the very least, the organization will have options.

Professional athletes are driven by money — this isn’t breaking news. And since both Michael Pineda and Sabathia are in contract years, one would expect them both to pitch their brains out. Sabathia proved he could once-again stay upright for the majority of a season in ’16. One more strong go-around could earn Sabathia his final multiyear deal, even if it isn’t in New York.

Pineda is still only 28, although it seems like he’s been in the big leagues for 10 years. The 6’7″ behemoth has to know this is the final chance he’ll get to prove his worth to a “good” team. So unless Pineda wants to wander around sub .500 clubs for the rest of his career, winning double-digit games with a low three ERA should be of the utmost priority.

When was the last time a historically great baseball team had two spots in its starting rotation up for grabs? The opportunity to seize the day should be a driving force behind any number of young arms the Yankees currently have in-house towards propelling themselves into household names.

Chad Green, Luis Cessa, Bryan Mitchell, Adam Warren, and even Luis Severino showed glimmers of real hope at various times last season. All the shooters in camp have good stuff, they just need experience and refinement to go along with it — which they’ll certainly get in 2017.

And that’s before we get our first glimpses of future studs James Kaprielian, Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield, Dietrich Enns, and Jordan Montgomery.

Now that Aroldis Chapman is back in the Bronx, we can all rest easy about the ninth inning. Dellin Betances gets to slide back to the eighth inning where he was an All-Star. Tyler Clippard, who in his return to the Yanks last season pitched like it was 2014 all over again (when he was an All-Star as a member of the Nationals), will be the seventh inning man. Manager Joe Girardi has a treasure trove of young flame throwers to choose from to round out the ‘pen. Again, opportunity will create competition which will result in long-lasting success. I know, I sound like Tony Robbins.