Sherman: Hughes has already won rotation spot

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 latest that he is hearing is that the Yankees aren’t actually holding a competition between Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, Hughes has already won it.

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.

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8 Responses to Sherman: Hughes has already won rotation spot

  1. Virginia Yankee says:

    Another possibility is that Cashman is touting Hughes with the intention of trading him (not so likely). But he compare Montero to Pujols and insisted that Noesi was a regular big league started and had to be used that way, shortly before trading each of them.

  2. Tanned Tom says:

    I'm not against using Hughes as the 5th starter. We read what great shape he's in, so… Also there will be plenty of need for a spot starter/long reliever which might suite Garcia better than trying to make 30+ starts. Either way this could be the make or break year for Hughes. What I want to see is when Joba comes back healthy, that the team trade Soriano to a team in need of a closer.

  3. YankezFan says:

    What just exactly is OUT OF SHAPE… by definition CC is always out of shape. I think Hughes last year may have not thrown enough during the offseason in order to keep his arm strength up. Hughes being out of shape would have very little to do with him throwing a 86mph fastball, instead of a 93mph one. Hughes could have forgotten how to use his legs to gain the leverage needed in order to increase pitching velocity, however i doubt that, and it has little to do with conditioning. Look at CC, Wells, etc the list is enormus for those pitchers out of shape, who were successful…. Really i dont see an improvement in Hughes this year, i dont remember the Yankees saying Hughes was in bad shape when came into camp. I know Joba was outta shape last year when he came in, and he had a pretty decent year, velocity topped 98 on occassion, so i m kinda confused with this "OUTTA SHAPE" thingy…….. I just hope Huges can regain his FORM and hit the 91-95s on his fastball, which will make his cutter and change that much better. when theres a 3 mph difference between your fastball and cutter, and your not Mo, your gonna be in for a long day.

    • Mike Sommer says:

      I have a friend who works security for the Yanks in spring training. He came back with the report on Hughes that he did show up out of shape (maybe the Yanks didn't say it out loud, but it was known by all down there) and that he was worried about him from the get-go; that there was no life to his fastball. This friend is good for tipping me off to things he sees/hears down there. Of course, you can never tell if some prospect who was great in S.T. gets hurt mid-season and with that injury, never realizes his potential. As for Hughes, so far, so good, and I hope my gut feeling (that he's going to have a bounceback year) proves correct.

    • Out of shape is relative to each player. Brian Cashman was the one who publicly made the claim. Also, Hughes was throwing early and often last year, he just wasn't committed to his conditioning.

  4. gordybravo says:

    The Yanks are doing everything possible not to mess with this kids head.If he's demoted to the bullpen his confidence will be crushed,and his value to the Yanks,and to other teams will take a big drop.

  5. Bronx_Knight says:

    Solid comments on this article.

    The only thing I would add is that, since joining the Yankees, Garcia has repeatedly insisted that he only wants to pitch as a starter, and not out of the bullpen. This suggests that he might be a pain in the arse, and possibly less effective, if demoted to the pen.

    That might be the price of starting Hughes over Garcia. But I'm sure everyone agrees that Hughes' upside is still so high that it makes outweighs pissing off Freddy.

  6. NYYinATL says:

    I don't like this thought process at all.

    If Hughes really looks like a top flight starter this Spring….OK. Give him the #5 slot. If he falters at all in Spring Training or Garcia outperforms him at all….Garcia SHOULD get the gig! Garcia was one of the more steady performers last year…he's a vet and a gamer and he keeps the Yanks in games. Other than one good HALF of baseball, what has Hughes done in the show as a starter??? NOTHING. He has been a lights out reliever though….and can be a useful piece out of the pen for years to come.