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Photo of Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman before an exhibition game against the Florida Marlins by AP/Luis M. Alvarez

Joe Girardi made the goal clear from his introductory press conference donning the number 27 to represent the quest for a 27th title. But, despite their tremendous resources and talent, this Yankees’ team is further away from winning a title than any in recent memory because of the question surrounding the starting pitching.

It is reasonable to expect Chien-Ming Wang to do well this season, but beyond that it is a guess what will happen. Andy Pettitte will open the season on the DL, he should be back next Saturday, but will he have injury trouble in 2008? How much, if anything does Mike Mussina have left? And, while Hughes and Kennedy appear to have bright futures, will they be able to succeed in 2008? One area where there won’t be questions is the bullpen, which should be strength of this team with Mariano Rivera leading the pack and Joba Chamberlain handling the majority of the setup duties.

We also know that the Yankees will score runs in bunches. Everyone is back from last year’s lineup that scored 968 runs. There are no easy outs in the lineup and the Yankees have also created a potent bench, which is important when seven of your nine starters are 32 or older.

The questions in the starting rotation will keep the Yankees from being considered a playoff lock. They should battle for the wild card and expect them to be buyers at the trade deadline if they are in the playoff hunt. We think the Yankees win 90 games, which puts them just short of the wild card in a tough American League race.