He doesn't cite a source, but the reliable Joel Sherman is reporting that Phil Hughes will officially be named the Yankees' fifth starter in a matter of days. I was ready to unofficially proclaim him the winner of the Battle for Five on Monday before the Phillies tagged him for three home runs, the last Wilson Valdez's game-winner. But Sherman points out something we all knew: This was never a numbers contest. Otherwise Sergio Mitre would have pulled off an upset of Buster Douglas proportions.
Hughes earned this spot by developing and impressing the Yankees with his change-up. The next mission is the hardest, staying in the rotation. Mitre or Alfredo Aceves will get the first call if Hughes were to falter or in the event of an injury.
Normally this would be cut-and-dry, we'd say "cool" and it'd be on with the season. Alas, there's Joba Chamberlain and his return to the bullpen. Members of the Loyal Order of Joba to the Bullpen are doing cartwheels and back flips, but we're now bracing for an outcry on whether the carefully constructed and implemented Joba Rules were a waste of time.
We would not be having this conversation had Andy Pettitte decided to retire and the Yankees weren't able to import Javier Vazquez, fourth in NL Cy Young voting last season, to be their fourth starter. But Pettitte returned, Vazquez will be better than in 2004 and make the Yankees better, and the Yankees have apparently decided on Hughes, so this is your team and this is the 2010 season. Time will determine whether Joba circa 2007 was for real or otherwise. Before conjuring up questions based on conjecture, enjoy what you've got and give Hughes his due.