Tick..Tick…Tick…

It’s the first Saturday without football since August, which means we are rapidly heading to the dead zone of the sports year.  Three more NFL games left and then nothing.  Luckily, this year we will have the Olympics, which should help fill the cold days of February.

As for the Yankees, there really isn’t much news, but I did pick up a couple of things from the interview Joe Girardi did on YES the other day.

1- Five guys (Joba, Hughes, Aceves, Mitre and Gaudin) will have a shot at the fifth spot in the rotation.  

2- However, Girardi specifically said that Hughes and Aceves would have innings limits in the rotation.

This further solidifies my desire for Joba to go into the rotation.  The Yankees spent a lot of effort getting him in under his innings limit in 2009 and they throw that all away by putting him in the pen at the start of 2010.  Put him in the rotation and see what happens when he doesn’t have to worry about innings limits, etc..  I also don’t want another year of the Yankees monkeying around with a pitcher over innings limits which eliminates Hughes and Aceves and I definitely don’t want to see Mitre in the rotation.  Gaudin intrigues me, but I still don’t trust his command for work every fifth day. 

But, there is a longer term issue here and that is Hughes.  If his future is ultimately in the rotation, you want him to throw 140 innings or so this year.  That’s not going to happen with him coming out of the pen.  I don’t know what the answer is there, but the Yankees should spend a few minutes of spring and think about a way they can maximize Hughes’ 2010 innings.

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You keep hearing the Johnny Damon drumbeat and I imagine you will until he signs somewhere, but my question at this point is why would the Yankees want him back?  I know his bat and speed are a wonderful mix, but his defense is atrocious.  If you sign him, you have to play him in left because Nick Johnson has to DH.  Putting Gardner in left, drastically upgrades the defense.  And, while Damon would clearly out-hit Gardner,  the difference may not be as much as you think.  Bill James projects Damon to have a .785 OPS and Gardner to have a .743 OPS in 2010. Throw in the defensive difference and I wonder exactly how much of an upgrade bringing Damon back would be?