From Keith Law:
For the Yankees, adding Vazquez means either Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes will start the season in the bullpen. It probably also signals that the Yankees feel one of them belongs there, most likely Hughes at this point. If the organization believed that both pitchers eventually would work out as starters in the majors, it would be more willing to give both rotation spots and back them up with a lesser option than Vazquez, who was, as you might have heard, the second-best pitcher in the National League this past season.
I do not agree with Keith’s take here, due to the following points:
- The Yankees did not hold these guys back in Halladay and Lee trades to keep them in the bullpen long term.
- They did not go out and add someone with a long deal who would crowd the rotation into the future. Rather, they brought in a workhorse with one year remaining on his contract.
- It is certainly possible that Andy Pettitte will retire after 2010, meaning the club may have two rotation spots open in 2011.
All of this tells me one thing: Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes are still starters in the eyes of the organization. Joba, in particular, is finally free of innings limits, and I find it hard to believe that they will reach that point and then stick him in the bullpen. Regarding the Yankees’ other young hurler, Phil Hughes is just 23. Another season of 100-120 IP is not going to kill him or make him an untenable starting option in the future. It is significantly more plausible to fathom that Brian Cashman felt it unlikely that his top 3 starters would stay healthy for a second full season and decided that he needed someone that he could count on for 200 innings to bolster the rotation for 2010. Importing too much meaning into a move for a player on a one year deal is silly.