Joel Sherman of the NY Post is the longest running beat writer following the Yankees and when he gets information from within the team it’s usually good information.
The Yankees are supposedly promoting this idea of a competition to avoid hurting Garcia’s feelings and because they don’t want to just hand anything to Hughes after he showed up to camp out of shape last year. They also know that injuries can pop-up at any time. There is no reason to say that Garcia doesn’t have a rotation spot if an injury may come up and they end up needing him.
But Hughes does seem to indeed have a rotation spot locked down as Brian Cashman still sees him as a potential front of the rotation starter.
“Aside from last year he was viewed, and not just by us, as one of the better young arms in the game; with success to prove it,” Cashman told Sherman. “He was a dominant reliever for us in 2009 and an All-Star as a starter in 2010. Why would I judge him by last year when he was injured? It feels like everyone wants to take him down a peg. I think he is a top-of-the-rotation starter.”
Hopefully Cashman isn’t being delusional here. Last season, Hughes’ fastball was flat and his secondary pitches were non-existent as his curveball and cutter both took a step back in their development and his changeup never developed at all.
The best bet for the Yankees long-term success though doesn’t have anything to do with Garcia and has everything to do with Hughes getting himself straight. So they will keep going with him as the front end of the rotation is strong enough to carry an unknown No. 5. Early signs in spring training are positive though so hopefully there has been a real transition away from the mess we saw last year to the promising young starter they had early in 2010.
Either way it appears that Hughes will begin the season as the Yankees starter and they will pretend that isn’t the case.