With baseball starting in roughly an hour, I wanted to write of list of things we can all expect as this magical 162+ game ride begins. We will see clutch moments. We will see unclutch moments. We will want to trade Joba. We will love Joba’s fist pumping after he strikes out Kevin Youkilis to end the seventh inning. These things are only the tip of the iceberg as we embark on the 2011 season…

1. Rafael Soriano’s transition to the eighth inning: Soriano was dominant as the closer for the Rays last season. His 47 saves were the most in the American League. Relievers have always said that two different mentalities are needed for the eighth and ninth innings. Let’s hope that the Yankees’ $12 million setup has the right mentality.

2. Derek Jeter’s ground ball rate: Jeter looked weak at the plate last year, committing 66% of his outs on the ground and hitting a career-low .270. Jeter has been getting heat all off-season long from ownership, the media, the front office personal, and opposing managers. I think Jeter bounces back this season and hits over .300. Plus, Mr. Jeter is knocking on the door of 3,000 hits..

3. The YES Announcers: For some odd reason, I’m always intrigued to see who will be in the YES commentator’s booth on any given game. Michael Kay is an obvious¬†linchpin¬†of the telecast, but his partners are always interesting. If the Yankees are playing the Red Sox or the Rangers, I want Ken Singleton in there. If they are playing the Royals, I want to see Paul O’Neill in there, cracking jokes with David Cone, eating a different meal each inning and making fun of Kay.

4. Kim Jones’ Locations: Whenever the Yankees go on the road, Kim Jones always does a report from an odd location. In Tampa Bay, she was by the stingray tank. In Arizona, she was in the swimming pool. The Yankees play at the Cubs and Reds this season. Perhaps we will see Kim Jones in the ivy at Wrigley? Stay tuned..

5. A-Rod: I just feel a monster season coming on for #13. After dealing with a plethora of injuries last year, A-Rod appears ready to go for 2011. He had a big spring (6 HRs) and has little distractions this off-season. I can see him hitting at least 35 homers and driving in 110+.

6. The Starting Rotation: It’ll be under the microscope all season long. AJ Burnett and Phil Hughes have to protect CC in the rotation and give the Yankees constant quality starts. Add in the uncertainty that surrounds Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia and the rotation is definitely the biggest question mark heading into 2011.