“Hire This Man!”

Those were the words of Larry David pretending to be George Steinbrenner, but I imagine the real Steinbrenner would echo those sentiments if he had seen Ivan Nova pitch tonight.

Nova did everything you could have wanted him to do in six innings. No hits, only three flyballs, four K’s and no runs allowed. Realistically, he will get two more starts this spring (he could get a 3rd against minor leaguers) but the Yankees should have seen enough to give him a spot in the rotation.

Yes, Garcia has pitched pretty well. Yes, Colon has as well, but consider what Nova represents. He represents a young, cost-effective, starting pitcher who will be under Yankee control into the second half of this decade. Putting him into the 2011 rotation, probably means he is in the 2012 rotation as well, solving a future problem as well. You simply can’t leave him behind in Scranton two weeks from now.

The Yankees cut six guys after the game, most notably Brackman and Russo. That leaves the following battles left to be determined:

Backup catcher- hard to see anyone but Montero get it at this point.

Backup infielder- Nunez vs. Pena

Backup bat on bench- This seems to now be officially down to Chavez vs. Vazquez

Back of the rotation- I know that we keep hearing four guys for two spots, but I think it is down to 3- Garcia, Colon and Nova with Mitre the odd man out.

Everything else appears to be set barring injury. Colon has reportedly told the Yankees he would be willing to pitch in relief, so would they keep him over Mitre? And Romulo Sanchez is out of options, so the Yankees will have to see if they can trade him somewhere in the next few weeks.