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Baseball season promises plenty of excitement in 'The Big Apple’

Never before have the two New York City baseball teams created such a profound study in contrasts. The New York Yankees are coming off another winning season and have reloaded thanks to the deepest pockets in the sport. The New York Mets are hoping to rebound from a disappointing 2010 campaign with most of the headlines surrounding the team dealing with a financial scandal involving a lawsuit against their ownership in connection with the Madoff investment scam. The Yankees have some question marks in the lineup but should be right in the thick of things in the AL East. The Mets have a lot of money tied up in big contracts for players that dramatically underachieved this year. 
For once, the New York Yankees were outmaneuvered in the free agent market and lost their prime target—pitcher Cliff Lee—who signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. Their starting rotation took another hit when veteran lefthander Andy Pettitte opted to retire. These developments were severe blows to the team that had made an upgrade to their starting pitching their top off season objective. Instead, the Yankees will enter the season with a rotation full of good but not great pitchers, prospects and a couple of veterans hoping to revive their career. The staff will be anchored by CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett with the bottom half of the rotation up in the air—the Yankees have a pair of young pitchers that could fill the role in Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova, and have had veterans Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon in camp as well. 
Everything else at Yankee Stadium is in good shape—the team upgraded their offense, defense and bullpen—but the thin pitching staff remains a looming concern. DH Jorge Posada, for example, sounds extremely worried for a guy saying that he’s not worried:
"If it's not good, we probably can do a lot of things on the (trade deadline) to fix that so I'm not worried about the team. You know, we've got a good team."
Across town at Shea Stadium, there’s also plenty of concern and not just in the front office over the team’s financial issues—the New York Mets have a payroll of $150 million and no guarantees that they’ll get any production out of that hefty investment. They’ve also got a new manager in Terry Collins that hasn’t been a skipper at the Major League level in over a decade. 
There’s some big name veterans making a ton of money in the lineup—most notably second baseman Luis Castillo who’ll make $6 million this year—but they could find themselves as well paid bench warmers as the Mets are seriously considering turning the starting jobs at several positions over to younger players. 
Starting pitching provides no relief from the drama surrounding this team—staff ace Johan Santana is coming off of shoulder surgery and will be out of action until midseason. That’s bad news for a rotation desperately in need of some stability. Instead, it’ll be up to enigmatic Oliver Perez, youngsters Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Jenrry Mejia to fill out a pitching staff. They do have some decent starters including Mike Pelfrey, Jonathon Niese and R.A. Dickey but lack a proven and consistent #1 starter at the MLB level until Santana returns.
Ironically, despite the dramatically different fortunes of the Mets and Yankees at the moment both team’s success—or lack thereof—hinges on the ability of a starting rotation that is thin ‘on paper’ to deliver results. In any case, the 2011 baseball season for both New York teams won’t be boring.