We can pretend there is a competition going on for the Yankees’ No. 5 starter spot, but that is what it is. Pretend. The WWE stages more realistic battles.Sherman may be right, but to me, I think this article is more of a product of a slow Tuesday in New York sports than anything based in reality--or at least a reality that can actually be based on one BP session on February 27th. Like Sherman himself said, "normally anything in February or March should be ignored".
The Yankees are saying it is Freddy Garcia vs. Phil Hughes. But their general manager is also saying this: He believes Hughes is, right now, a top-of-the-rotation starter. That has not been said about Garcia since, oh, about 2001.
So this is a competition only because the Yankees want to sell you that this is a competition. They do not want a prideful veteran in Garcia to be offended. They do not want Hughes, who showed up out of shape last year, to feel he is being handed anything. And with six weeks to Opening Day, the potential for injury or stumble means the Yankees see no reason to publicly declare even a front-runner, much less a winner.
But understand this: The competition is rigged. If it is close, Hughes wins. If it is advantage Garcia, but only slightly, Hughes wins. Hughes can only lose this by doing what he did last spring, having his fastball go on a mysterious hiatus. The early signs are Hughes’ better dedication to offseason conditioning has led to less gut and more heat.
Normally anything in February or March should be ignored, but it was obvious in his first live batting practice session yesterday that Hughes’ arm was quick and his fastball had life.
“It is a heavier ball,” Russell Martin said. “He changed his body. He looks more explosive. He has more arm speed, which leads to a better breaking ball and more deception on the changeup.”
If Hughes had ever met, or at least come close to expectations I might feel otherwise, but sadly that has not been the case. He's had many opportunities to prove himself to this team as a starter, and he's failed virtually every time. Between that, and the fact that Garcia was solid for the Yanks last year, Garcia at least deserves a fighting chance at that fifth spot.
Again, Sherman could be right because we all know a lot more goes into these types of decisions than just X's and O's. The Yankees might not want to continue to look bad over all the hype surrounding this guy and do everything in their power to get him back in the rotation for yet another chance. Though, if they do that despite a strong spring from Freddy they'll deserve all those April losses thanks to their forced decision.
This quote from Brian Cashman makes that seem like a strong possibility:
“Aside from last year [Hughes] was viewed, and not just by us, as one of the better young arms in the game; with success to prove it. 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.”If it were up to me I'd base this decision on performance and not saving face. What about you?