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Hughes your head

By: Nick Marro

Many feel that on paper the New York Yankees have the best pitching staff in all of baseball. A bold statement considering the fifth and final rotation spot is still a question mark.

Rumors have been surfacing all over the internet suggesting GM Brian Cashman is leaving no stone unturned in search of a reliable fifth starter. Ever since Andy Pettitte declined a potential $10 million one year contract to pitch in the new Yankee Stadium, no scenario seems entirely improbable.

Pettite’s decision has lead to Yankee fans and media both nervous and anxious about the potential of bringing a veteran similar to Pettitte in terms of contract length and value. Popular scenarios include trading an outfielder for a Bronson Arroyo type, or signing a free agent such as; Jon Garland, Ben Sheets or even Pedro Martinez.

After a record off-season in terms of spending on marquee names, it would likely be in the Yankees best interest to attempt to get younger, save money and stock the farm system. The best way to do this would be for Brian Cashman to call of his search for a one year ‘rent-a-pitcher’, trade Nady/Swisher for prospects and to hire a fifth starter from within.

It would be almost impossible to argue against the fact that Phil Hughes’ 2008 season was a complete disappointment. The Yankees prized right-hander posted an abysmal 6.62 ERA and won zero games in only eight starts and 34 innings pitched while plagued by injuries. However, Hughes has recently shown flashes of the top-prospect he was supposed to be prior to his tainted 2008 performance. Hughes impressed the organization this off-season pitching in the Arizona Fall League with great success. The power-righty put up great numbers for the Peoria Javelinas including a 3.00 ERA and 38 strikeouts in only 30.0 innings pitched. Many also forget that Hughes finished his 2008 campaign strong in his final start against Toronto in which he threw six solid innings of four-hit ball.

Ultimately Cashman will probably sign a veteran to at least challenge Hughes for the five hole, but the Yankees organization shouldn’t be so hesitant to give the kid a shot. The sky may be the limit for this twenty-two year old, but if he isn’t given this opportunity one may question why Cashman and company dubbed him all but untouchable last off-season.

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