Spring training is barely underway and yet so much of the talk already here is about 2014 and beyond. Specifically, how is Brian Cashman going to get such a top-heavy payroll under $189 million and still field a championship-caliber team?
When Cashman mapped out such a plan a year ago, he was counting on Michael Pineda and Manny Banuelos to provide young, low-cost, high-ceiling pitching that would give him crucial maneuverability to spend elsewhere.
The general manager will need that freedom to make decisions on potentially key — and expensive — free agents Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda. He just doesn’t know if he can count on that young pitching, after Pineda missed last season to shoulder surgery and Banuelos missed most of 2012 to elbow surgery.
“Those and others are guys you plan for,” Cashman said on Thursday, “and now we have to wait on them. Hopefully when the dust settles and they’re back from injuries they can still perform and give us what we were expecting.”
Don’t forget Dellin Betances, the other highly touted pitching prospect, who didn’t get hurt last year but took a huge step backward because of control issues, to the point where he has fallen off the major league radar.

Those pitchers are especially important at the moment because the Yankee farm system, while well-stocked at the lower levels, is practically void of major league-ready prospects at the moment.
And so the good news for the Yankees is that Pineda, the 22-year-old power pitcher acquired from the Mariners for Jesus Montero 13 months ago, appears to be progressing nicely from the shoulder surgery that ended his season before it began in 2012.
Cashman is cautious, noting that setbacks are more the rule than the exception for pitchers coming back from such shoulder surgeries. But he said he is “very surprised” at how well Pineda is throwing after several weeks of working off flat ground and now a week of throwing off the mound.


Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/harper-pineda-vital-yankees-future-article-1.1264887#ixzz2KyXEVLXj