The New York Yankees have assembled to begin spring training, and the excitement among Yankees fans is palpable.
Although the winter has been mild in the northeast, it has been a long winter especially for baseball fans who can think of nothing else but baseball.
Now that the team has arrived for spring training, we can start to get a look at some of the changes that occurred during the offseason, including some new pitching talent, and see how it all affects the team.
The success of any team relies on collective contributions, but we all know that it begins with pitching. Any team's strength is built on a solid pitching foundation.
With a few bumps in the road, and maybe a nasty ditch or two, last season's pitching was pretty solid. Take a look at some projections for the starting pitching staff of 2012.
All signs so far indicate that he spent his offseason taking his physical conditioning seriously.
He had another fantastic season in 2011 with a win-loss record of 19-8, 230 strikeouts, a WHIP of 1.226 and an ERA of 3.00 in 33 starts and 237.1 innings pitched.
Losing some weight this offseason will help him to consistently throw harder and longer. He is 31 years old and playing in the prime of his career.
Expect a stellar 2012 season from Sabathia with a win-loss record of 21-7, 211 strikeouts, a WHIP of 1.20 and an ERA of 2.80 in 34 starts and 220.0 innings pitched.
His stamina will increase leading him to pitch deeper into games. He may have a decent shot at the AL Cy Young award in 2012.
Michael Pineda was traded from the Mariners to the Yankees recently in a deal that took top prospect Jesus Montero to Seattle.
Many were upset about giving up Montero, but New York picked up a young pitcher who has not even reached his prime.
In his 2011 season with the Mariners, Pineda had a win-loss record of 9-10, a WHIP of 1.099, an ERA of 3.74 and 173 strikeouts in 171.0 innings pitched.
Pineda was the No. 5 starting pitcher in Seattle's rotation, and will likely fill the No. 2 slot for New York.
While with the Mariners organization, Baseball America rated him as the second-best prospect in the Mariners' farm system before the 2011 season.
They also rated him as the 16th-best prospect in all of baseball in 2011.
Pineda is strong and powerful standing at an intimidating presence on the mound of 6'7" and 260 pounds.
He will do well in New York, but may need time to adjust to a new and demanding environment that New York presents.
Pineda will put up a win-loss record of 16-9, a WHIP of 1.14, an ERA of 3.69 and 200 strikeouts in 191 innings pitched.
Pineda will satisfy demanding Yankee fans in 2012.
Ivan Nova is another young Yankee pitcher who hasn't reached his prime just yet. Yankee fans are excited about his promising future with New York.
Nova has solid command of five pitches including a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a circle-changeup, a slider-cutter and a 12-6 curveball.
His sinking, two-seam fastball has been his prized pitch generating a huge ground-ball percentage during his career.
Over two seasons with the Yankees, Nova has a win-loss record of 17-6, a WHIP of 1.355, 124 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.86 in 207.1 innings pitched.
With a couple of seasons of MLB experience behind him, his confidence will be a large factor in the 2012 season.
Look for Nova's 2012 win-loss record to be 14-8, a WHIP of 1.37, 113 strikeouts and an ERA of 4.09 in 178 innings pitched.
He has a solid future ahead of him, but I doubt that 2012 will be his best season. As he further develops, he'll be phenomenal in 2013 and 2014.
Hiroki Kuroda is in the process of a transition from the NL West to the AL East. Some may be concerned about how he'll handle the transition, but I think that he'll adjust easily.
Kuroda's pitching generates a large percentage of ground balls, which will play into ground-outs and double plays at Yankee Stadium.
While pitching for the Dodgers over four seasons, he had a win-loss record of 41-46, a WHIP of 1.187, 523 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.45 in 699.0 innings pitched.
Kuroda in 37 years old, but has shown no signs of slowing down and pitched his career-best ERA of 3.07 and struck out 161 batters in 2011.
He should have a solid 2012 season with the Yankees with a win-loss record of 15-8, a WHIP of 1.22, 142 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.70 in 180 innings pitched.
This should be a strong season from Kuroda.
Much has been discussed regarding who should fill the fifth spot in the starting rotation.
After reading about how Phil Hughes has rehabilitated and recovered from injuries, and how much work he has put into refining his pitching skills, I am convinced that he is the right man for the job.
Hughes struggled in 2011, but the Yankees seem to be confident in him this year. He did well during the second half of the 2011 season with a 3.72 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and a win-loss record of 4-2.
Dealing with his issues hurt his numbers in 2011, but he has demonstrated in past seasons that he has solid skills.
In 2010, his win-loss record was 18-8, he had a WHIP of 1.248, 146 strikeouts and an ERA of 4.19 in 176.1 innings pitched.
The 2012 season presents Hughes with a bounce-back opportunity. He may not have a stellar year, but I think that he will put up some solid numbers after having a difficult 2011.
Hughes should put up a win-loss record of 11-8, a WHIP of 1.30, 126 strikeouts and an ERA of 4.10 in 155 innings.
After a confidence-building 2012, he will have an even stronger 2013.
Overall, the 2012 starting pitching rotation for the Yankees has all of the elements that they need to have a strong, solid and successful season.
Don't be surprised if the pitching staff struggles in the first week or two as they adjust to some of the offseason changes, but it will all gel together quickly and lead the Yankees to the postseason.