And the Yankees fifth starter is…


Phillip Joseph Hughes. You read that correctly, Phil Hughes will be the Yankees fifth starter for the 2010 season.

“We evaluated the whole spring,” Girardi said. “I’m very excited with the improvement in [Hughes’] changeup. To me, that made a big difference in who he is. Our decision is for him to be the fifth starter, and all the other guys are competing to be in the bullpen…I think Joba could do either job but right now we feel Hughes is ahead as a starter.”

Although I always thought that Joba should be in the ‘pen (fine, call me a B-Jobber), I think it was stupid to keep him on an innings limit for the past few years if he was never going to start. Why go through all that trouble if he was never going to be in the rotation? All those starts cut short and Joba Rules were for naught. That has got to mess with a pitcher’s head and confidence. Give the kid a chance to start!

As I have written before Joba is so much more dominant as a reliever and would be a phenomenal successor to Mo, but this jerking him back and forth from rotation to bullpen is insane. I think that Joba should begin the year in AAA to keep his innings up and if there’s an injury to a starter (God forbid) he can be called up to make a start. Why not? They have plenty of bullpen arms that are capable of holding down the fort. If not, I hope he gets to make some spot starts out of the bullpen a la Chad Gaudin last season. Otherwise this whole situation is just a waste of talent.

If the Yanks push him back to the bullpen now they are hampering his ability to start in the future and wasting solid young starting-pitching talent. I say give him one more year to prove his worth as a starter and if he can’t get it done in 2010 then he should begin 2011 as a reliever. What’s so hard to understand about that? If he pans out as a starter then that’s great for the ballclub, if he doesn’t then the Yanks know they have a solid replacement when Mo rides off into the sunset. It’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned.

Also, what happens if Andy Pettitte retires after the ’10 season and Vazquez signs elsewhere? The Yanks will need to fill those two spots and if Joba doesn’t throw enough innings this year he won’t be able to step in. In which case the Yanks will have to find a pair of starters as opposed to just one.

Apparently, coming into Spring Training, the job was Hughes’ to lose. So even if Chamberlain had thrown exceptionally well in ST (which he hadn’t), Hughes would still be the fifth starter. The Hughes Rules will see the 23 year old limited to around 170 innings; so with the abundance of off-days in April, and the other four starters getting a lot of rest, he should be able to last the whole season.

But regardless of where Joba ends up, I have faith in the organization and hold out hope that everything works out. We can’t forget that this is the same franchise that has won more championships than any other team in sports. They have to know what they are doing and must be hiding a few aces up their sleeves. Right? TELL ME I’M RIGHT!!!!!!!