An edge in pitching experience

BOB ELLIOTT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

TAMPA -- It's a tiny barometer, one means of comparing.

Yet, going off 2007 stats, the Blue Jays starters have more experience than the New York Yankees heading into this season.

When was the previous time Jays starters had more experience than the Yanks, no matter the barometer? The mid-1990s maybe?

Jays starters Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum and likely Casey Janssen combined to make 108 starts a year ago.

Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, Mike Mussina and Ian Kennedy had 105 starts for the Yanks.

Using another measuring stick, the Yanks rotation has 991 career starts compared to 505 by the Jays.

On one side of the Courtney Campbell Causeway, in Dunedin, the Jays' young arms are regarded as a question mark. General manager J.P. Ricciardi said early that the biggest question is not B.J. Ryan's health, but how young arms McGowan, Marcum and Janssen will pitch.

On the other side of the Causeway at Legends Field, soon to be re-named George Steinbrenner Field, the Yanks know the youngbloods in the Jays rotation.

"They've got some awesome arms, some big ol' young guys who can throw," Pettitte, said after his first live batting practice. "Their younger guys have more experience than ours. We have Phil and Ian plus Joba Chamberlain waiting in the bullpen. But Joba has only 20 (24 actually) innings in the majors."

The Jays don't have a flame-throwing Joba to be opened in case of injury. Yanks GM Brian Cashman liked what he saw from the Jays trio of 25-year-olds.

"Their young arms are as good as ours," Cashman said. "Nationally, those guys don't get the play of our guys. Toronto is capable of competing in the AL East.

"The injuries they had to their starters were a blessing. They had more arms ready to pop in 2007 than they realized."

What about an independent observer? One who isn't trying to avoid bulletin board fodder, unlike when Kelly Gruber predicted the 1992 Jays were so stacked that they would wrap up the division by Sept. 15.

"I like Toronto's rotation better," a veteran AL scout said. "Halladay is a true No. 1. Burnett is a No. 1 or a No. 2, if healthy and McGowan is a No. 3 who might someday be a No. 1.

"Wang is a solid No. 2, Pettitte's probably now a No. 3 and Mussina is a No. 4. Neither rotation is as good as the Red Sox."

If the Yanks respected the Jays staff this much, why not deal for Minnesota Twins lefty Johan Santana?

"I felt personally the type of money it would take to sign him, plus the talent we'd have to move, was not the most efficient way to do business," Cashman said. "I did not want to give up 500 plate-appearances in centre (Melky Cabrera) and 300-to-350 innings (pitching prospects) for Santana's 200-plus innings."

As Cashman spoke, Pettitte fired a strike on the corner, which froze the hitter. Catcher Jorge Posada yelled "whoooo!" to indicate how impressed he was.

Two pitches later, Pettitte came off the mound to cheers from roughly 300 Yanks fans. "I needed to get back into my routine, I was extremely affected by two weeks before camp opened," Pettitte said, referring to flights to Washington, D.C., to testify under oath that his friend Roger Clemens had discussed performance-enhancing drugs with him 10 years ago.

"Everyone acts like nothing happened, like I didn't have to apologize, but I did," Pettitte said. "So many people answer questions about me. I hated that."

Meanwhile, back at the Dunedin ranch, Halladay is told what's being said across the bay and smiles.

"The guys that the Yankees have coming are going to be good," Halladay said. "They have a lot of faith in them, that's why they didn't trade them."

More starting experience than the Yanks? It was difficult to find the keys to type that. We'll see.

2008 STARTING ROTATIONS

BLUE JAYS

Record GS BB SO ERA

Roy Halladay 16-7 31 48 139 3.71

A.J. Burnett 10-8 25 66 176 3.75

Dustin McGowan 12-10 27 61 144 4.13

Shaun Marcum 11-4 25 81 98 3.91

Casey Janssen 0-0 0 0 0 0.00

Totals 49-29 108 256 557 3.85

YANKEES

Record GS BB SO ERA

Chien-Ming Wang 19-7 30 59 104 3.70

Andy Pettitte 15-9 32 66 141 4.09

Phil Hughes 5-3 13 29 58 4.46

Mike Mussina 11-10 27 35 90 5.12

Ian Kennedy 1-0 3 9 15 1.89

Totals 51-29 105 198 408 4.20

(Stats are from 2007)


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