Counting the Days

Is it just me or does December seem like the slowest month of the year? Maybe it's because it's usually cold, dreary and dark. Or maybe it's because we're in that limbo period right smack in the middle between the two baseball seasons otherwise known as last season and this season. By the way, now that the calendar has changed and it's a New Year, you can refer to the 2012 season as last season.

Anyway, whatever the reason is, I'm glad December is over because it means that this season is right around the corner.

Now, I know some people are fearful of what 2013 will bring for us Yankee fans but I, for one, am just excited for baseball to start.

Things will certainly look a lot different on February 12 when pitchers and catchers first report to Tampa. Especially the catchers. Russell Martin is gone and it looks like barring any last minute miracle of some sort, Austin Romine, Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart will be battling it out for the starting catcher job.

How exciting! She said sarcastically.

And then, when the position players arrive, things will look even more different without Nick Swisher, Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez on the team. Plus, you have the new additions reporting to Tampa for the first time like Kevin Youkilis and Matt Diaz who will both be donning the Pinstripes even though we never thought in a million years they ever would.

I still can't believe Youkilis is a Yankee. She said with lump of bile in her throat. (Kidding!)

At least some things will look the same. The pitching rotation is unchanged with CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte as your top three. Then there's Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and David Phelps who will be battling it out for the last two slots in the starting five.

What I'm most interested in seeing is the return of Mariano Rivera to the bullpen.

2012 was such an odd year for the Yankees, wasn't it? All seemed lost when Rivera was first injured in May but then the Yankees recovered and they still went on to win 95 games thanks to the performance of Rafael Soriano who stepped into the closer role and was fantastic through the summer and into fall.

Right now, Soriano is still a free agent and unsigned. I really wish the Yankees could sign him again but I know that can't happen. He'll want too much money and they're all about austerity! Bring on 189 in 2014!

I think it will also be interesting to see how Derek Jeter comes back from his ankle injury. My fellow, soon to be 39-year-old, says that he expects to be ready by the start of Spring Training. Let's hope he is and that he's able to perform.

***

About a week ago, someone on Twitter bet me that the Yankees would finish at .500 this year. After I stopped laughing, I told him I'd wait until the start of Spring Training before I made any sort of wager because I wanted to see if the Yankees would make any more moves.

My brother thinks I'm crazy and that I should take that bet because he feels there is no way the Yankees would do that badly this season.

I tend to agree with my brother.

Yes, the Yankees lost some key players and yes, the Yankees are a year older but everyone is (or will be) a year older. I will be a year older, you will be a year older, the world will be a year older.

And yes, other teams - namely the Blue Jays - revamped nearly their entire squad. But so what? Divisions and World Series aren't won on paper. Just ask the 2011 Red Sox and Phillies.

Besides, the Blue Jays, like every other team in baseball, have some injury concerns. Josh Johnson isn't a guarantee to last all season in the starting rotation and it will be some sort of miracle if Jose Reyes can stay off the disabled list all year.

Other AL East teams haven't improved that much (so far) this offseason. Have the Red Sox made some moves? Sure, but they didn't really address what they needed to address and that's their starting pitching.

But Stacey, they signed Ryan Dempster!

Like I said, they didn't really address their pitching problem - Dempster isn't that great. Will they be as bad as they were last season? Probably not. Guys will be healthier, new manager John Farrell will miraculously help Jon Lester and they will more respectable than they were in 2012.

The Orioles who had every single thing go right last season - from their record in one-run games to their record in extra inning games and the performance of their bullpen - were able to finish with 93 wins which was good enough for second place in the AL East, haven't done a damn thing yet this Winter. Sure, they have still time to do something but it seems they're hoping that 2012's luck will carry over into 2013 and I don't think it's a given.

Will they fall off by a lot? Probably not. In fact, this year, I can see the AL East being a three or four team race right down to the wire.

Now, wouldn't that be something?

Then there's the team down in Tampa that plays in that awful dome. They added free agent and power hitter (kidding) James Loney and lost Wade Davis and James Shields to a trade with the Kansas City Royals.

The trade seems to be more of a help to the Rays of the future, not to the 2013 squad but still, you can never count the Rays out of anything because no matter what, they're always lurking and ready to pounce when one of the upper echelon teams falter.

So after all of that pontificating, the point to this overly wordy, somewhat babbling post is that the 2013 baseball season is almost here and contrary to popular belief - from media and fans alike, I believe that Yankee fans have a lot to look forward to.