New York Yankees: 5 Questions for the 2012 Season

Arad Markowitz@!/AradMarkowitzContributor IIIMarch 5, 2012

New York Yankees: 5 Questions for the 2012 Season

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    As a Yankees fan, every season is "World Series or bust."

    The Yankees had the best record in the American League last year, winning the division, and cruising right into the playoffs. Then, facing the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees were bounced from the playoffs after a short, unfulfilled series.

    Although the team did not win the World Series, many positives can be taken from the season. Curtis Granderson's offensive explosion, Derek Jeter's second half, and Ivan Nova's rookie season are just a few of the stories

    So now, as the Yankees try for their 28th championship, here are five burning questions surrounding the Yankees as we head into the 2012 season.

Who Is the Number Five Starter?

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    The Yankees top-four starters are basically set (not in any particular order):

    CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda

    The number five starter is the question, with the two candidates being Phil Hughes or Freddy Garcia.

    If we were basing the answer solely on last year's performance, Freddy Garcia would be declared the No. 5 immediately. Garcia pitched to a 3.62 ERA last season, while Hughes battled injury all season long.

    However, many, including myself, believe that the job is Phil Hughes' to lose, and barring any injury, I predict he'll start the year off as the Yankees' No. 5 starter. 

How Will Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda Adjust to the A.L. East?

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    Brian Cashman pulled off two great baseball moves this offseason.

    By trading top hitting prospect Jesus Montero for pitcher Michael Pineda and signing Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year deal, Cashman turned, at best, a shaky rotation into a potentially top-five rotation in baseball.

    Of course, moving from two western divisions to the AL East will affect any pitcher, and while we might see a spike in ERA, I fully expect both Kuroda and Pineda to adjust nicely.

Can Curtis Granderson Repeat His 2011 Performance?

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    Granderson has always been a phenomenal hitter, but his 2011 season was off the charts, hitting 41 home runs, driving in, and leading the league with, 119 RBI, while coming in fourth in the MVP voting. 

    While he may not repeat his near-MVP performance, Granderson should still have a great year.

    Granderson is very important to the Yankees' success and look for him to turn in a great year regardless of whether or not he lives up to his 2011 season.

Which Derek Jeter Will We See: First Half of 2011, or Second?

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    Jeter was hitting .260 when landed on the DL in June, and many expected the same continue when he came off.

    Instead, he hit .331 after coming back, including going 5-for-5 while getting his 3000th hit in a game in July. Jeter ended the season hitting .297.

    While we can't expect second-half Jeter for all of 2012, I expect him to be much more consistent throughout the year and finish the season hitting around .300.

What Kind of Season Can We Expect from Alex Rodriguez?

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    At 37-years-old, Alex Rodriguez is not the same player.

    A-Rod turned an amazing spring last year into an injury-plagued, .276 batting average season with 16 home runs, while only playing in 99 games.

    I expect A-Rod to have a good year, but not an MVP-type year.

    However, if he can limit his injuries and play in around maybe 110-120 games, A-Rod can turn in a solid year, and possible tie Willie Mays at 660 career home runs.