We are roughly one week away from Spring Training officially kicking off. Football is finally over, I really don’t care too much about February NBA games, and I’ve never watched an NHL game before so discussing the Bombers is what’s on tap for today. In my estimation, five Spring Training pitching stories will take center stage when all of the Bombers report..

A-Rod Eating Popcorn Won't Be One..

#1 CC’s Knee: Teams will live and die with their starting rotations and the Yankees have question marks all over theirs. CC Sabathia had a ‘minor’ meniscus tear in his right knee that required surgery back in October. When your ace has logged 1,213 regular season innings since 2007 and has surgery on his knee, you start to feel a little skeptical. Sabathia claims that he’ll be ready to go for the season and we have no reason not to believe him, but watch him during Spring Training.

#2 Good AJ or Bad AJ?: It’s no secret that AJ Burnett really struggled last season. His 5.26 ERA was easily the highest he’s ever had in his career. Through his first eleven starts last year, Burnett threw 72 innings and posted an 3.28 ERA. Then ex-pitching coach Dave Eiland took a leave of absence and his ERA shot up to 5.28. Even when Eiland returned, Bad AJ remained. Has his workload been too large? He has thrown 614 innings over the last three years and he isn’t exactly Sabathia-sized. After losing out on Cliff Lee and watching Andy ride off into the sunset, the Yankees NEED Good AJ more than ever in 2011.

#3 Phil’s Second Full Season: Phil Hughes threw 191.2 total innings last year, 30% more than his previous career high of 146 innings in 2006. His 18-8 record was extremely impressive, but his 4.66 ERA in the Bronx where he surrendered 20 of his 25 home runs, wasn’t. Hughes threw seven shutout innings in the ALDS, proving he can handle a big start. The Yankees will continue to monitor his workload and he needs to keep developing his change-up. Development of a change-up will greatly benefit Hughesy in 2011.

#4 All Other Starters: After the first three starters, the Yankees have a bunch of question marks. The Yankees invited Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon to training camp and will look at Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova. With the way that the schedule is set, the Yankees will only need four starters for the first month of the season. Don’t expect the Yankees to run out and make a stupid trade to just fill up the rotation. The market will develop as the season goes on.

#5 Da Bullpen: Mo is still Mo. New comers Rafael Soriano and Pedro Feliciano will hopefully lock down the late innings. Don’t forget about David Robertson, Boone Logan, and Joba Chamberlain. The Yankee pen looks very, very strong on paper. Watch Joba’s velocity in Spring Training. He is still one of the most controversial Yankees on the team.