The Yankees aren't the only team that enters spring training with huge questions unanswered.
The Yankees are the only team with $200 million to spend -- and a $200 million question.
Money doesn't guarantee you success. But shouldn't this much money guarantee that you don't reach Feb. 4 -- 10 days before pitchers and catchers report -- with this shaky a starting rotation?
Cliff Lee says no, Andy Pettitte says no, and now the Yankees are left with this?
"Our starting rotation's not where it needs to be right now," general manager Brian Cashman admitted at Friday's Pettitte retirement press conference. "I'm up for the challenge."
Sorry, but the challenge began last October, when Pettitte said he left Rangers Ballpark after Game 6 feeling like "I was done." Or the challenge began before that, because it's been clear for a while that the Yankees' strong crop of pitching prospects might be arrive as quickly as the need for reinforcements would arise.
Maybe Cashman should have used the weight of his huge offer to Lee and pushed for a decision earlier. He admits now that by waiting so long for Lee, the Yankees found other options closed off.
Maybe Cashman should have been willing to rework the proposed trade for Lee last July, because maybe after half a year in New York Lee would have been open to staying.
Maybe if Lee had said yes, then Pettitte would have been more interested in returning to a team that would have been one of the favorites to go to (and win) the World Series.
Instead, the Yankees have this: a strong but heavily-worked top two of CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes, a completely unreliable No. 3 of A.J. Burnett (coming off an historically bad season), and then a mix of candidates for the fourth and fifth spots that would be more suited for a team with a $70 million budget: young Ivan Nova, middle-aged Sergio Mitre and old Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.
Could they trade for Felix Hernandez? Unlikely. A Yankee official said bluntly: "They're not trading him."
Could they get by for half a season and hope that some other top-level starter hits the market? Sure they could, but that's not a great option for a team that regards anything short of a World Series win as a lost season.
As for the free agents or trade targets they could get right now (Kevin Millwood, Joe Blanton, for example), would adding either of those really answer that $200 million question?
The obvious answer is no. Spring training is 10 days away, the Yankee rotation "is not where it needs to be," and there are no obvious answers.
And still no Plan B behind Cliff Lee.