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Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda Make New York Yankees Favorites in AL East

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 23:  Starting pitcher Michael Pineda #36 of the Seattle Mariners delivers to a Washington Nationals batter  at Nationals Park on June 23, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Matthew StoneContributor IIJanuary 14, 2012

On Friday the 13th, the New York Yankees rose from the dead, made some noise and acquired two starting pitchers that will make them favorites to repeat as division champions.

The Bronx Bombers dealt prized catching prospect Jesus Montero to Seattle in exchange for 22-year-old Michael Pineda. They also agreed to terms with free-agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, according to ESPN.

Pineda went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA for the Seattle Mariners as a rookie last year.

Pineda adds more youth to the Yankees rotation behind veteran ace CC Sabathia. After Pineda, the Yankees have Ivan Nova, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, A.J Burnet and Freddy Garcia.

This once depleted staff may assert itself as one of the best in the American League during the 2012 campaign.

The Yankees addition of Kuroda could pay dividends for this team. His one-year, $10 million contract does not make him a liability if they must part ways. Kuroda had expressed interest in joining the Boston Red Sox earlier this offseason.

Kuroda compiled a career-best 3.07 ERA last season with the Dodgers.

With these two signings, the Yankees have six starting pitchers that they can start. The depth that is now on the roster makes them the favorite to win the division ahead of rivals Boston and Tampa Bay.

The Yankees regain a healthy and driven Rafael Soriano to join with Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson as the bridge to Mariano Rivera. Robertson was selected to his first career All-Star appearance last season after finished the year with a dazzling 1.08 era in 70 appearances.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 20:  Robinson Cano #24 and Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays on September 20, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Robinson Cano is a MVP candidate and Curtis Granderson is coming off a career year, making the middle of the Yankees lineup a nightmare for opposing pitchers.

If Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira can return to their 2009 form, the Yankees offense could be the best in baseball. CC Sabathia is a workhorse who can be penciled in for over 200 innings, 17 wins and a ERA under 3.00 

Oh, and lets not forget that the Yankees have a plethora of starting pitchers in the minors. Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances could be making an impact at the major league level shortly.

The Yankees hope that catching prospects Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez pan out down the road to fill the loss of Montero.

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