David Sabino
Friday April 3rd, 2009

We're just two days from the first official pitch of the 2009 season, so what better time is there to unveil a special 2009 preview edition of Diamond Digits? This week we're looking at how big-name hurlers fare in their first seasons in pinstripes, relievers who go out with a bang and sluggers who had power from dawn to dusk in their careers.

$243.5 million

Amount of money the Yankees invested in A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia for a combined 12 seasons.

New York has always been in the forefront of big name acquisitions, but since first inking Catfish Hunter to a five-year deal worth $3.75 million, New York's star-collecting has been hit or miss at best. Big-name southpaws seem to adjust to New York better than righties, which is great news for Sabathia. But this could mean trouble for Burnett, especially since the new Yankee Stadium promises to play nearly identically to the old one. Here are the debut seasons for New York's biggest offseason pitching gets of the past 35 years.

28

Saves in the final season of Salomon Torres' career.

With newly signed Trevor Hoffman on the shelf with a strained right oblique, the Brewers are longing for Torres. The 36-year-old righty retired for the second time in his career (he sat out from 1998 to 2001) following a season in which he not only set his single-season high in saves but nearly doubled his career total while placing ninth in the National League in closing out wins. He's one of only 10 pitchers who appeared in 10 or more seasons and had at least 28 saves in their final year -- and among them had the greatest relative success in his final season by far.

1

Home run needed by brand new Met Gary Sheffield to reach 500 for his career.

After celebrating his 40th birthday last Nov. 18, Sheffield's next blast won't only get him into the 500 Home Run Club, it'll get him into a much more exclusive one: Players who hit a major league home run both as a teenager and as a 40-year old.

The first to do so was Hall of Famer Ty Cobb, who hit his first big league home run in 1905 as an 18-year old and his last in 1928 at age 41. Next up was Rusty Staub, who clubbed six home runs as a 19-year old rookie in 1963 for the Colt .45's and hit the last of his 292 clouts at age 41 for the Mets in 1985.

Playing shortstop for the Brewers at age 19, Sheffield connected off of Seattle's Mark Langston for the first of a total that currently stands at 499 for his career.

Usually in this spot we'll look back at the player who enjoyed the most success in the previous week, but since the games don't count yet, I'll use it to unveil my 2009 Major League All-Star Team:

C Brian McCann, Braves 1B Albert Pujols, Cardinals 2B Chase Utley, Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins, Phillies 3B Evan Longoria, Rays LF Manny Ramirez, Dodgers CF Josh Hamilton, Rangers RF Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners SP Johan Santana, Mets RP Francisco Rodriguez, Mets

Usually in this spot we'll look back at the player who suffered through the toughest week in the big leagues, but since the games don't count yet, it'll be used to predict the best young players who have yet to enjoy a big statistical season but will in 2009:

C John Baker, Marlins 1B Kendry Morales, Angels 2B Chris Getz, White Sox SS Elvis Andrus, Rangers 3B Emilio Bonifacio, Marlins LF Daniel Murphy, Mets CF Adam Jones, Orioles RF Shin-Soo Choo, Indians SP Jonathan Sanchez, Giants RP Jason Motte, Cardinals

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