Hughes needs to learn to cope with failure

A-Rod on the DL
Win the All Star Game ticket lottery, if you can afford it

No, Phil Hughes is not pitching well. I had big hopes for last night, after seeing how sharp he was last time out, before the rain delay. He did not fulfill those hopes, though, and naturally it raised questions about his belonging on a major league roster. Those questions should be asked. Hughes has been frustratingly inconsistent, and further has put a taxing on our bullpen. He’s the youngest pitcher in the majors, so the simple solution would be to let him work out his issues at AAA.

The only problem is, I’m not sure that’s the remedy.

At some point, there will be no harm in trying. But right now, as in today, I’m not convinced that a demotion is in order. Some readers might thing I’m trying to spin this with, as one commenter said, Hughes-colored glasses. But it’s not quite that. Hear me out.

First, let’s look at the immediate. Hughes’s next scheduled start is Sunday against Seattle. It’s not like they’ve got a super-charged offense, so you might as well let the kid go out there and see if he can start May better than he left off April. Plus, it’s still relatively early, so we can afford a hint of patience.

Monday is a day off. So if Hughes throws another poor game on Sunday, you can skip his next start, sending him down for a spare bullpen arm or bench bat, until a fifth starter is needed again. If he pitches well, you can proceed with caution.

Now let’s get to the long-term.

The Hughes Theory

As we all know, Phil Hughes has one helluva minor league career. He dominated every level he touched, keeping his WHIP below 1.00 and striking out over a batter an inning. Of course, we’ve seen guys pitch well in the minors and bust in the majors. But Phil really dominated.

That itself might actually be the problem. When Phil was cruising through the minors, he’d be going five or six innings, and in many games he’d have just two or three baserunners. That simply doesn’t happen in the majors, not for a 21-year-old. Major league hitters won’t be fooled by the same stuff that gives AA hitters fits.

That’s fine, though. Every pitcher needs to make adjustments at each new level. Phil has to adapt to not only pitching with guys on base, but to the psychology of having guys actually hit you hard.

In other words, welcome to the majors, meat.

The problem is that he’s not adjusting. Once he starts to get hit, he’s all over the place. The fastball tails to the right. The curveball doesn’t bite as much. There is no consistency. It’s like a mean case of stage fright hits him when things aren’t going well.

Keith Law made a similar observation in Spring Training a couple of years ago. “The first time I ever saw him, he gave up a hit in Spring Training, and went to pieces,” says Law.

This is not unusual for such a young player. However, it makes me wonder if a stint in AAA is the answer. As I said earlier, at some point there’s no harm in trying. But if he goes down there and starts off pitching like he did tonight, well, there’s a good chance he’d end up cruising through the game. The homer pitch to Granderson was at the knees, and a AAA hitter, unless MLB-bound, probably wouldn’t be able to handle it in the same manner. The homer pitch to Sheff was a good pitch, but since Sheff had seen the curve a few times, he knew what to do with it.

To be clear, this is not excusing Phil’s performance tonight. It is simply stating the obvious, that AAA hitters won’t be able to get to Hughes the same way MLB hitters do.

On the whole, I cannot fault anyone who wants to see Phil back in the minors. I just think that the problems specific to him need to be worked out at the major league level. Which is unfortunate, because it can lead to a cascade of problems that will hurt us over the course of the season. But there is certainly something to be said for letting him work this out in the minors.

Oh, and cut the Johan crap

Thankfully, this is a minority of RAB readers, though a vocal minority. Yes, the crew that continues to lament the team’s decision to not trade Phil Hughes for Johan Santana this winter. I can’t tell you to stop. You are entitled to an opinion, just like the rest of us. I just think it’s a wee foolish to be judging the non-trade the April after it didn’t happen.

Just look at Santana himself. As a 21-year-old in 2000, he tossed 86 innings to the tune of a 6.49 ERA. He made three starts early in the year. The first was okay, and the second were putrid. They actually kind of resemble Hughes’s starts from this year. His two starts in September weren’t much better. In between, he had varying degrees of failure as bullpen guy, coming in for plenty of mop-up situations.

And you know what? He wasn’t all that hot a starter in 2001, either. It wasn’t until 2002 that he started to show what he was made of, and until 2004, as a 25-year-old, that he showed complete and absolute dominance — though he was pretty damn good in 2003, splitting time between the bullpen and the rotation.

Again, I’ll cite Greg Maddux, who got roughed up as a 21-year-old. Ditto John Smoltz. This trade is not a bust because Hughes had a bad April. This was a non-move made with the long-term picture in mind. One month does not constitute a long-term picture.

Of course, just because the move was made with the long-term in mind does not necessarily mean it was the right move. But it’s still way, way too early to close the book on this one.

A-Rod on the DL
Win the All Star Game ticket lottery, if you can afford it
  • Ben K.

    Beyond the Johan crap, we also have to remember that the trade was not and never would have been Phil Hughes for Johan Santana. It was Hughes + Kennedy + Melky Cabrera + another prospect for Santana. The Twins weren’t about to ship Johan to an AL competitor for anything less than that. No matter how you slice or dice it, that is a bad trade.

    • RollignWave

      the other deal would hardly be better. Kennedy + Wang + Melky.

      I agree that we should hold on for a month or at least a few more weeks. there’s certain adjustments made at each level. people forget that.

      My grudge with Hughes today (or for much of the season) is that he keeps flashing his best pitches early in the count and then start nibbling and/or throwing shit. there’s some serious pitch selection and approach issue here. ANYONE who’s seen his curve and quesetion his stuff to cut it as a major leaguer should just stop watching baseball to be frank. the stuff is there. the mentality is not.

      they need to be careful to not push this to a Rick Ankiel / Zach Grienke extend though.

      • Pete

        Trading Wang would simply put us in the same situation we are now – two pitchers in our rotation pitching lights out (Santana, Andy), one iffy (Moose), but just instead of two shaky rookies we’d have one (Hughes).

        Leaving us with one empty spot on the roster for (shudder) Kar/Ig/sner…

    • Phil McCracken

      Sorry Ben, I don’t agree.

      When the Twins came crawling back to the Yankees to get a deal done they would have taken anything at that point, as shown by the deal the Mets made. I doubt Cashman did any type of negotiation to try to get Santana here for the lowest possible price once Smith was backed into a corner to get Santana off his plate.

      The problem with “The Big Three” (soon to become “The Big One”) is that they are all going to need time to develop. It won’t be this year, and it probably won’t be next year. So then you run into the issue of wasting 2 years of players like ARod, Jeter, Posada, Abreu, and Rivera who are all playing with an egg timer next to them. Their time is limited.

      So if it takes Hughes/Kennedy/Chamberlain around 3 years to get their act together, its a failed project. Jeter is 37, ARod 36, Posada 39, Rivera 41 and you’ve totally missed the window on this offense.

      The Santana trade should have been made, and Cashman should have played hardball with Smith when he was vulnerable to get him for the best possible price. Which is why a new GM needs to be in place next season.

      • Pfistyunc

        I couldn’t agree more. The youth movement doesn’t match the aging lineup and Santana provided an opportunity to challenge for a championship.

      • Mike P

        Your theory holds for one season though, not 3. Look at the free agent pitching available this winter.

        • TurnTwo

          which would include, who? an often injured Ben Sheets? a hefty lefty who may or may not take less to stay home in Cleveland?

          no guarantee the Yankees get any of this available top-shelf free agent pitching that is supposedly available after 2008.

          same with the offensive FAs. i think too many people assume that the yankees are just going to throw a boatload of cash at Mark Teixeira, and he’ll play 1B in the Bronx the next 7 years… but what happens if he just prefers to play elsewhere?

          • RichYF

            This is exactly why we have to develop pitching in house. FA pitchers, as mentioned several times, very rarely pan out. So, maybe you’re right, there will be no big names on the market this year. That’s why Cashman is trying to do it on his own.

            I’m not saying Phil, Joba or Kennedy are the solution. They’re a start. And giving up a future for a few years of declining performance from our offense isn’t worth it to me. I’d rather move on from the remnants of the late 90s squad and start fresh. I know this is going to make some people wince, but Jeter, Posada, and company are getting old.

            It’s time for change. Giving up a 21 year old and a 23 year old for a pitcher “in his prime” simply because if we don’t our squad can’t win a championship is silly. I’m sorry that Jeter, Bernie, O’Neill, Posada, etc. got old, but that’s how it is. Thinking for “this year” only is why the Yankees have had no farm system for 10 years. The “big free agent” signings have done nothing but put all eyes on the Yankees and set them up to fail. $100 million dollar contracts for “known quantities” are a thing of the past. It’s time to get young and get smart with the money rather than just toss out $200 hoping to win “this year.” Let’s think about next season as well.

      • Ben K.

        At what point did the Twins “come crawling back” to the Yankees? No report we’ve ever heard confirms that claim.

        Meanwhile, they can sign Sabathia for the cost of money in six months without giving up the farm.

        • Steve S


          I think that is the problem with this whole big package trade. I saw a rumor that Hughes and Melky were never offered in the same package. All we know is the posturing by these teams. The one thing for sure is that at one point Hughes was in the package (this was confirmed by Hank). And we dont really know what happened in January because it became clear that the organization had decided to hold on to the kids and gamble on no Santana, which is fine. But this is the price you pay and the risk they took. These kids are going to take their lumps on and off the field. Its not a forgiving town, especially when you have had a 90 win team the last four years that really is missing an established ace in the playoffs.

          And all this is not to say I dont agree with what Brian Cashman did. The concept that the yankees would definitely win the world series this year with Johan is ludicrous. But it is safe to say that they would have a better chance. I think the people who are going insane right now over Hughes and Kennedy are a little off. The team is still a very good team and it would have been nice if they could have started off better. And their inconsistent start is directly correlated to the kids but they are part of the problem. They have been collectively awful (as has the offense and this schedule).

          The Johan thing will haunt Phil especially, because he was the player named in it. And as was said in the offseason, the better long term plan was Phil and whatever kids you kept. But for this season, even if it is Melky included, the Yankees have a better chance. And I’m somewhat torn, its nice to envision a dynasty, but it would be nice to go to a parade this November. And Ill worry about next year, next year.

          • mustang

            A voice of reason….thank you
            Steve S
            THNK YOU

            • mustang

              Steve S
              Has my veto for the guest column job.

              • Steve S

                Thank you Mustang but I’m only as interesting as the content and discussion that these RAB guys originate.

                I think I understand where everyone is coming from. I am one of those people who latched on to Phil Hughes three years ago and its hard to let some things go. But I also said the only guy I would ever trade him for JOhan Santana, which I acknowledge, I had a lot of doubt about when it came up. I saw a lot from Hughes last year which is what should be everyone at ease.

                But I think the first step for the RAB guys isnt acknowledging that Phil can be bad, I think its acknowledging that there is a strong possibility that he will be a flop. And I only say you should acknowledge it because its almost as if it was a foregone conclusion three months ago that Santana will get hurt or be a burden on the roster in four years.

                And then the next step is to eliminate those T-shirts because they are a complete mush and I said it from the beginning.

                Lets just hope he works it all out. And sending him down is ridiculous.

        • Pete

          If Cleveland doesn’t trade him first.

          Plus Sabathia scares me – seems like the type of guy who could go downhill in a hurry without discipline, alá Bartolo “Yes I’ll have that 7th slice of pizza” Colon.

          • mustang

            Totally agree.

        • Phil McCracken

          Sabathia is a good pitcher, but he’s not Santana. Thats the story of the Yankees life though. Pass on the best, settle for whatever is next. Pass on Beltran, but sign Damon. Pass on Randy Johnson the first time, trade for him 7 years later. Pass on Beckett because we have Pavano. The only time we really traded “up” for someone was when we got rid of Soriano for ARod.

          As much as I like the young pitchers, the odds are against them. If one out of the three becomes a successful ace, they’ll be very lucky. With all the young pitching Cashman is stockpiling, he should start moving some of it to solve other needs. Alan Horne, Marquez, and White are just gathering dust in AAA. While they are second tier guys, they could have solved some of the other issues on this team.

          My problem with Cashman is he doesn’t know when to pull the trigger and trade surpluses for needs. He’s like that annoying owner in fantasy baseball who loves all of his players and won’t part with any of them no matter what he could get in return. It seems like other teams are always making themselves better and Cashman never deals with our needs until its too late.

      • nick blasioli

        i couldnt have said it better

  • dan

    I’ve always been 100% behind Hughes, defending him whenever possible. Heck, I even have a yankees #65 jersey (which is now stashed in the back of my closet). But he needs to get his shit together in the minors. Skipping AAA was bound to have some negative effects, even though they didn’t surface so much last year. We don’t want to see him get so mentally messed up that he can’t recover. Something is obviously wrong when he has continually been unable to throw his fastball where he wants.

  • Joltin’ Joe

    Talk about a bad trade for Minny. I thought Billy Beane got hosed on the Haren trade, but Eveland and Greg Smith are making him look like even more of a genius.

    • RollignWave

      when in doubt. always go for quantity over quality on prospects. even the best can bomb. and often the onces that really shine weren’t always the best prospects.

  • zack

    I am right with you guys, It was pretty much me and one other vs. the masses at the Banter tonight in regards to this issue. For me, it really comes down to the fact that I have an underlying faith in Hughes, whereas I don’t think a lot of people do, especially those who know little about him and are going off what they “see,” which is a pitcher not getting many swings and misses with not so good control and not a dominating FB in terms of speed. I can understand the reaction to send him down based on that.

    But I look at Hughes and his track record in the minors and what we saw last season and what I know about him in general, and I see a kid who simply doesn’t have what made him who he is: control. Hughes was always an amazing control pitcher, and this season, last season too until the end, he simply hasn’t looked comfortable on the mound. He’s constantly blowing on his hand as if he can’t grip the ball right. The pitches are tailing to the right all the time. Sometimes he throws the ball into the dirt, sometimes it sails high. But rarely is it going right where he wants it. Most of the time he’s missing by a solid amount, so that hitters can wait for their fat pitch, or hack away at his FBs which tail back over the plate to lefties. Thus, his best weapon, a perfectly located FB, has totally failed him. The FB sets up his curve and slider/change, and generates the swings and misses. Without it, hitters simply don’t have to swing at borderline pitches b/c there really aren’t any.

    Until tonight, it was as if Hughes was being walked and singled to death. Then tonight, he clearly seemed to just give in on those two HR pitches and leave them right over the plate. He simply cannot put anyone away because he can’t put the pitches where he wants them. That’s a big problem for him. It would be as if Mo suddenly couldn’t throw his cutter. Losing your best weapon that you throw most of the time and sets everything else up is bad bad news…

    So to me, what Hughes needs to do is twofold: he needs to figure out what the hell happened to his control, and he needs to figure out how to get hitters out when he doesn’t have it and how to scuffle. Lots of pitchers get by with much much worse stuff (just look at Moose), Hughes just needs to start pitching more. He is only 21.

    The first part could, in theory, be fixed in the minors. But as you point out, in the minors, hitters simply aren’t as good. So Hughes could be pretty darn successful without even changing anything. That curve and FB will give him pretty good #s. Would it boost his confidence? Maybe, but it wouldn’t really fix the underlying issue. Or rather, it might, if its mechanical, but then why couldn’t they do that in the majors too?

    The second part he simply HAS to do in the majors. Every pitcher scuffles and has off days. Greg Maddox, Jake Peavy, Roger Clemens, Josh Becket, Christy freaking Mathewson and Cy Young all had/have to get by without their best stuff all the time. The ONLY way for Hughes to learn to “pitch” is to do so against ML hitters. YOu take your licks and keep on coming. Sure, it may be painful for awhile, but if you have fundamental faith in Hughes’s ability, you know that he’ll come around.

    I do, I know he’ll be fine. The question is if he’ll be given the chance to work it out in the majors and if many fans understand that….

    • zack

      Yikes, did I write all that???

    • Pete

      But here’s the nagging question – are the Yankees supposed to keep letting him try to work this out in the majors, get hammered for 3 innings and then have to trot out 3-4 guys from the pen *every* time he starts?

      It would be fine if the other 4 starters all went 7-8 innings every night, but we all know that’s not (or ever will be) the case this season. The bullpen will be cooked by June if Hughes doesn’t fix something soon.

  • Travis G.

    i was rather disappointed in him tonight. i was hoping and expecting a solid outing. we’ve seen him do it (the Toronto game), but wtf happened to his fb command?
    granderson was the key: hughes walked him to leadoff, then threw a 55-footer WP that ultimately allowed 2 runs to score. i’m not sure if the stats back this up, but when Hughes retires the first batter, he goes on to a good game, and vice versa.

    he needs to show his other pitches. someone said he threw 80+ pitches and only 5 were the slider and change. he has a pretty good change and get-me-over slider. he needs to use those because otherwise he’s just a reliever that’s starting the game (meaning he’s using just 2 pitches, like most relievers). that can work maybe one time through, but after that it’s tough.

    it wouldn’t kill us to get a hit with risp either. jesus it’s frustrating. if we get a hit in either the 1st, 3rd or 8th (when runners were on 2nd and 3rd), it’s a tie game. and god forbid if we get 2 hits, we win.

    and ohlendorf should get a ton of credit for keeping it close.

    • Ben K.

      The bullpen over the last few games has just been oustandingly stellar. They picked up Moose after five innings yesterday, and they picked up Hughes after 3.2. The Yanks were in a position to tie or take the lead in this game, and they just couldn’t get that big hit. The bullpen gets all the credit for that.

    • Travis G.

      this non-trade cannot possibly be judged after one month. like the NFL draft, it’ll take years to determine.

      i agree with zack. sending Hughes to Scranton might not help because he would probably dominate those hitters (unless it’s a mechanical flaw). we just have to be patient bc Hughes will learn more facing MLers.

      it’s partly a matter of maturity: Hughes is the youngest pitcher in MLB and has rarely faced adversity in his career. he’d never even had the bases loaded against him in his entire minor league career!

      it’s just tough because ‘the Yankees dont rebuild’. they want to develop AND win. will the casual fans and owner(s) stand for a struggling rookie or two? i sure hope so because the fans booing Hughes was totally uncalled for and will do anything but help the problem.

  • BigBlueAL

    u may be tired of the Johan crap, but u r gonna be hearing it for a LONG time, so get used to it. i dont give a shit what Johan, Maddux, or Walter Johnson did when they were 21 yo. Santana is 29 yo now, and i know the Johan Santana we wouldve gotten is the best LHP in baseball. PERIOD. we r the NEW YORK YANKEES, not the freakin Florida Marlins. i didnt get it and still dont. we dont want to trade Hughes, IPK and Melky (if it even did take all those 3, alot of reports stated by the end, it may not have even included a package of all 3) for the best LHP in baseball who is in his prime because all of a sudden we become fiscally responsible??? there is roughly 80 freakin million dollars comin off the payroll next season, plus movin into a stadium that could honestly probably allow the team to have a payroll of 250 million and not blink an eye and we draw the line on trading and paying for JOHAN SANTANA???? like i said in an earlier post, it wouldnt have even included our BEST prospect, Joba. if we supposedly have all these younger pitchers who should be comin up soon in the next couple of years and have all this depth in our minor-league system, then we shouldnt have even blinked an eye to make the trade for Johan Santana. and please, all this talk about 6 years from now who would u rather have is bullshit. ur tellin me Johan Santana is gonna be washed up at 35 yo???? we should PRAY TO GOD that Hughes in 6 years is half the pitcher Johan is and will probably be in the next few years. the odds r much greater that Santana will be great in that time frame then Hughes or Kennedy will be. again PLEASE dont get me wrong, i hope Hughes and Kennedy do GREAT. i hate watching him pitch like this, i dont want him to pitch bad to make my point that we shouldve trade for Santana look good. but ive said it before and will say it again, the organization put a big bullseye on both of them by admitting they wouldnt trade them for Santana, so basically u built ur grave, be prepared to be buried in it. last year they pitched care-free and relaxed since they had nothing to lose, but its totally different this season, and im sure thats a major reason for their struggles and sudden loss of confidence. i still cant get over the fact we would pay a boatload of money for Pavano, Wright, trade for old-men in Brown and Big Unit, but we pass on trading for Johan Santana because its time to take a stand and look towards the future. i know ive gotten ripped for sayin we shouldve traded Hughes and Kennedy since we still had Joba, but its the truth. the odds of everyone of the “Big 3” to succeed is very small. Neyer and Keith Law always say if u have 5 good pitching prospects, u’ll be lucky to have 1 pan out. anytime u have a chance to trade for arguably the best pitcher in baseball, still in his prime, w/o havin to give up ur top prospect (Joba) or any regular star players, u do it in a heartbeat. end of rant, and like i said, no matter what, GO YANKS.

    • RollignWave

      it’s hard to come across as anything but a dolt when you can’t even use paragraphs .

      • BigBlueAL

        what r u an English teacher????? instead of complaining about how i wrote what i wrote, at least complain about what i said by giving ur take/opinion about what i said, not on how i wrote it.

        • RollignWave

          this is the internet, I don’t claim to be any good at English (which isn’t even my first language) and I don’t care much for how you write it. ( i make my own share of mistakes) but it needs to be at least readable. and quiet frankly, yours was not.

        • Ben K.

          A word of advice as you comment on blogs: People will take you a lot more seriously if you take the time to spell out words like “are,” “you” and “your.” They’re three or four letters each and don’t require that much effort. Just a suggestion, not a criticism.

          As to your points:

          No one besides you has mentioned fiscal responsibility. With the contracts coming off the books next year, money wasn’t as much of an issue as you think. Sure, the Yanks were concerned about adding a pitcher for that much money, but if you think that’s a perfectly risk-free move, just ask the San Francisco Giants how Barry Zito’s working out for them.

          Granted, Santana’s better than Zito, but signing a pitcher to a long-term deal rarely works out. Mike Hampton, Darren Dreifort and Kevin Brown can attest to that. In fact, outside of Mike Mussina, none of the big free agent pitcher signings have made it the duration of their contract recently. Just a word of warning.

          Trading away the talent and signing a long-term contract to a pitcher with a history of injury just didn’t seem like a winning combination. One month into the season is not the time to be passing final judgment on anything, good or bad.

    • Travis G.

      please, please use paragraphs. it’s a chore to read without.

      • BigBlueAL

        now that is a valid point, sorry about that. i just got going and couldnt stop. but lets be serious about criticizing the fact i dont use full words, i mean dont u guys send text messages???? if u actually spell those out, than WOW.

        obviously if u were writing an article to be commented on, u MUST write it out correctly, but cmon on the comments too???? i comment all the time in the Imagine Sports site where the majority of the people r dare i say ALOT older than me (27) and they do the same (plus spend a shitload of money on teams there, its amazing. i feel poor as hell considering i usually only have a team or 2 active at a time). its called im not in school anymore (although i do plan/hope on going back to finish college one day) and dont expect to be graded on my spelling.

        anyway, sorry about the wording/writing. its bad enuff im hated cause i actually dont worship the shrine of Hughes and Kennedy like the majority here do, i cant spell either!!!! honestly, this is the best Yankees blog on th internet BY FAR, and the fact there r alot of different opinions on everything is what makes this site GREAT. i think we could all agree on that point at least………

        • Back Bay Yankee

          I spell out every word I text. It’s a point of pride.

    • bru

      i disagree.the best teams are doing exactly what the yankees are doing.melky at 23 is on pace for 30 hr’s,look at zito,santanna has a few yrs left,his numbers are slowly regressing.the problem with the yankees is they don’t have a true ace and if they were solid 1-3 they could afford to be patient with the kids.send kennedy down and bring rasner up.there is way to much pressure on the kids now and it is build a great lasting team by good scouting.drafting and keeping the kids.we still have brackman,betances,sanchez.we should of tried for santanna with kennedy,tabata and others but not melky,hughes or joba.buchholz for the red sox is 23 and just now starting to look good.

      • BigBlueAL

        i love Melky but he aint hitting 30 hr’s this season!!!! but at least u kinda agreed with the 2 main points of mine. obviously Hughes and Kennedy r pitching with pressure they have never had to deal with, and u have to blame Cashman, Girardi and ESPECIALLY Hank Steinbrenner for publicly admitting they werent traded for Johan Santana. my main point u kinda hit on, if we also have all these other great young arms in Brackman, Betances, hell even Horne, PLUS the main thing being we didnt have to trade Joba, u pull the trigger for Johan because it wouldnt have completely erased the quality in the farm system.

        to win a championship (and i dont care the spin u guys try to put on it, that is the MAIN GOAL, not developing young pitchers )with 2 rookie starters in the rotation is almost impossible. u DONT resign Posada and Mo like we did and go into a half rebuilding, half trieing to win it all philosophy. im not ashamed about “buying” championships and what-not, the Yankees have been doing it since they bought Babe Ruth. making the trade for Johan Santana wouldve actually been a smart move, not a stupid move like the ones they have made in the past few years with regards to starting pitching.

      • Double-J

        the problem with the yankees is they don’t have a true ace and if they were solid 1-3 they could afford to be patient with the kids.

        What about Wang? He’s 5-0 this year. He has looked like an ace to me, and I don’t see how we’d be faring any better had we given Melky and Wang to get Santana…we’d be even worse off. Pettitte is a solid #2. Mussina, for all the crap I’ve thrown at him, has appeared competent.

        The problem is not our lack of an ace. You simply cannot expect to have three guys shoulder the load when your #4 and #5 starters lose every start. I do agree that these guys could use a quick shot to the minors (Kennedy less so than Hughes, since he is older) to build up a little confidence, but the problems with this team are a weak (abysmal) back end of the rotation, and a difficulty in hitting with RiSP.

  • Yankee Psycho-fan-t

    Our bullpen has been fantastic. It’s really a luxury considering what the Yankees have provided in the bullpen the last few seasons. As for Hughes, everyone needs to be patient. If you don’t want to watch him struggle, don’t watch his starts. He has such incredible raw materials that still need to be crafted into “the goods” everyone can’t wait to see him show. I believe he had the goods in that start in Chicago and it would have been something for him to build on. I hate the Johan people, hate, hate, hate the Johan people. Apparently they didn’t read the reports that there actually probably weren’t even concrete offers on the table at any point for Santana, because, well IT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE DUMBEST, KNEE JERK UNNECESSARY MOVE EVER MADE! I don’t even want to expand. These kids are so immensely talented that they have nothing left to learn in AAA, and they are 21, 22 and 23. Maybe they could benefit from the confidence booster of a trip down to Scranton, but a good outing in the bigs will do 10x more. When they put it together, watch out. I can’t wait to see it because its hard watching them struggle. But sticking through the bad times and being patient will make the foreseeable future so much more fun. They will have grown into superstars right in front of our eyes. Another thing, this win the world series in the first month of the season bullshit needs to stop. I know I’m not the only one who’s sick of it. Now that A-Rod is on the DL, those who can’t stomach a few bad starts from a 21 year old, should probably go back to making little-leaguers cry for not going perpetually undefeated, fighting other parents in the stands and all sorts of other unrealistically competitive activities that don’t involve pissing off people who actually understand the game of baseball.

  • Edwantsacracker

    I thought Al Leiters comment was important too. He was basically throwing two pitches, although he did throw the curve more than his last bad start. I am not sure if Al’s counting was right or not but he said he only through 2 sliders and one change. In 90 pitches you have to use more than just a fastball and one of your breaking balls.

    His curve did look good though.

  • Bruno

    Besides, who would replace Phil in the rotation? Rasner? I’d rather let Phil learn on the job.

  • Chip

    So why not put Hughes in the bullpen as the long man and bring Rasner up? Our bullpen is clearly having some innings problems so maybe having a long-man in Hughes for a while could solve both problems in one! Besides, I think it’s pretty common knowledge that he has an innings limit this year (which he won’t touch at this rate) so let him come in for 3 innings in a mop-up role for a month. Take a bit of pressure off so he learns to trust his stuff

    • RollignWave

      this might make a little sense.

    • RustyJohn

      The innings limit isn’t an issue- he has thrown plenty of pitches in his starts despite only going 3 or 4 innings- 82 pitches tonight, 97 on the 18th, 66 pitches in two innings on the 13th, 90 and 87 pitches in the previous two starts (3 & 6 innings). It isn’t like he’s going out there and giving up first pitch homers.

    • RustyJohn

      Didn’t finish my comment- both these guys need to be stretched out or else their going to have low innings/pitch limits next year too- both need to remain in the starting rotation whether here or in Scranton

      • RustyJohn

        they’re* not their

  • brockdc

    True, Hughes has owned minor leaguers, but might a dominating stint in AAA give him some much needed confidence right now? Also, it would offer him a less rigorous venue to both work on his control issues and refine a third pitch, which seems sorely lacking in his current repertoire.

    If they do opt to keep Phil and/or Ian in the rotation, Rasner would be an absolute necesssity. ‘Dorf seems like he’s being wasted as a long man, as he has the stuff to be pitching the seventh or eighth innings.

    Another option (which has already been suggested here) would be to have Joba shadow Phil, which would instantly solve the “How are they going to stretch Joba out?” conundrum.

    • GoYankees

      Joba can’t be your long man behind Phil and IPK. He is already Mariano’s backup. But someone else needs to be. A knuckle-baller would be perfect, to bridge to our hard-throwing short men. Know any?

  • RustyJohn

    Amazing to see the difference in markets. In 2005 the Mariners brought up Felix and he went something like 4 and 4 with an ERA around 2 1/2- people thought he was the second coming of Christ out here- the next year he was 12 and 14 with an ERA over 4 1/2. No one panicked, thought, “Shit, let’s get rid of Felix!” They realized he was the franchise and, well, it also helped that the Mariners sucked and weren’t in contention.

    In a way I wish that when they were struggling last year they would have just disassembled the team and traded off all the vets they could- it is a lot easier to go through this process and have patience when your team is absolute crap than to deal with it while in contention- it is like being half-pregnant.

    I’ve waivered back and forth between sending either IPK or Hughes down and bringing up Rasner- given the stress that they are under, motivation wouldn’t be the factor, the factor would be can they continue in the rotation giving only 3 to 5 innings a night (with Mussina a question mark too) and the bullpen get absolutely exhausted by August. The answer is no, they can’t so for the sake ofthe team if they can’t get it together soon one will have to go.

    I think-and this is just based purely on speculation and no factual basis at all- that if one of the kids needs to go down it would be IPK, I don’t know if Hughes’ psychie can deal with a demotion- however, IPK showed some stuff after the 2nd inning in his last start- call it fortitude or whatever. But from the third inning on he had a swagger about him.

    Right now I think if both struggle in their next starts it will be an easy decision to send one down, but if either IPK or Hughes shows improvement in their next start and gives them 6 or 7 strong innings then I think both stay with the rationale that the team can deal with 1 1/2 struggling starters (one of the kids + 1/2 a Moose-whichever one shows up in any given night) but not 2 1/2 struggling starters. In a sense each one’s destiny is in the other’s hands and if one does well they not only save their own ass but take the pressure off the other one.

    All this becomes moot if the offense decides to show up and spot thekids 4 or 5 runs in the early innings so they can relax.

    • RustyJohn

      One other factor is Joba- when do they work him into the rotation? He’s thrown 11 innings so far and is targeted for what? 150? So he is worked into the rotation in mid-May or early June at the latest? Does the team have the ability or patience to wait another month if IPK and Hughes struggle? Once Joba is moved in I would imagine if Moose continues his wily ways one of the other two will be sent down and someone else (Britton? lol) called up to take Joba’s spot.

      • BigBlueAL

        im one who doesnt want Joba to leave the pen this season, EXCEPT if one of the pitchers not named Wang or Pettitte got hurt or struggled badly, which is what is happening now. i agree, IF their plan really is to move Joba into the rotation this season, i say do it NOW. at least we r still at .500 with nobody else in the AL running away with it since it is still very early in the season. no point in waiting till we get to 21-29 like last season in late May, start the transition of Joba into rotation now so he will be ready to start by end of May/early June, not toward end of June/early July where it may be too late.

    • A.D.

      Felix pitched into the 4th inning..

  • iYankees

    I just want Hughes to develop at his own pace. He could go back down to AAA and try working with more hitters there. I mean, it’s not like he pitched 100 innings in AAA so he probably didn’t get to experience the rough patches that help young guys grow. He could experience those moments with the big club, but they’ll come at him 100 x faster and it’ll be harder for him to adjust at this level. He himself has said that everything goes by so quickly when he’s pitching in actual Yankee games and it’s hard for him to adapt. You have to be able to stop the game a bit, mentally, when you’re pitching in order to make those adjustments and creep into a hitter’s mentality. From what we’ve seen, I’m not sure Hughes is capable of doing that, right now.

  • kelvin

    i still have faith in Phil, i think, this is just like in those old movies, wherein the hero gets beaten at first, then will slowly get better and finally win!, or..maybe that is just me. still, i believe in Phil. he can do that.

    and finally, i believe in joba greatly, but, don’t you think that he would also go through this kind of struggles once he goes to the rotation? i love to have joba in the rotation, but i do believe that he would also have growing pains of some sorts, and if people are acting this way with Phil, i wonder what would happen once Joba is experiencing the same thing (which i hope doesn’t happen.) again, it might be just me.

  • Jake

    I never saw Hughes pitch in the minors, so I could be totally wrong, but I can’t imagine he dominated the way he did with this fastball. I know he himself said he wasn’t throwing 95-96 as some people have reported, but 88-90 is a whole different story. Both Keith Law and John Sickles have said that this isn’t the same guy that they watched pitch in MiLB. It’s got me almost hoping there’s an injury he’s compensating for and that this isn’t really his best stuff.

    • Double-J

      Alternatively, you wonder if that hamstring injury last year didn’t make him (however unconsciously) alter something with his mechanics, and has been detrimental to his delivery. I know Lieter talked several times last night about Hughes not getting enough push (I’m paraphrasing, I forget exactly) or momentum into his pitches.

  • Pablo Zevallos

    Don’t forget chris stewart absolutely blows. A 21-yr-old can’t have a catcher like that.

  • GoYankees

    Phil walked their lead-off batter, next centered a fastball, then threw a wild pitch. He just didn’t have good stuff last night, and he knew it from the first pitch. What is he to do? What do successful major leaguers do when they don’t have their best stuff?

    They don’t just “adjust”, unless their mechanics are off. They go to plan B which they already have worked on and used when needed. That means using that extra pitch, or changing pitching style for a few innings, until hopefully that arm loosens up.

    What Phil needs is a better plan B.

  • Steve

    On the YES broadcast last night O’Flaherty and Leiter said the same thing I’ve been saying about Hughes since last year. He doesn’t throw enough of his pitches. Its 75% fastballs, 20% Curveballs, and the slider and change he throws a few times a start. He needs to mix it up more. Hitters are way too comfortable against him, MLB hitters can easily recognize fastball against a curve. If you mix in some sliders and changeups, especially late in counts you can get some swings and misses to get yourself out of trouble.

    Fastball/curveball just isn’t enough to get big league hitters out. I guess they’ll stay with him for another month or so, because they really don’t have anyone else (Kei Igawa part 2?) but I suspect he gets demoted before Kennedy. Kennedy is more polished, he has better commend of more pitches, he just needs to throw more strikes and be more aggressive. You have 8 guys behind you, let them hit the ball Ian. Thats very doable, and will probably fix itself as he gets more starts under his belt and settles down.

    Hughes is another story. He needs to work on his secondary stuff to the point where he has confidence in it and can use it late in counts to finish hitters off. Hughes just isn’t ready yet.

  • chris

    I wanted Johan in the offseason because I never saw a star when i watched hughes despite what i read. he will be nothing more than a bonderman type never a verlander.

    sendin him down makes no sense. what does he have to pove in AAA? this is a .500 team that will not be in the hunt come august anyway and i always looke at this as a rebuilding year. i say keep him here because i can only hope that i am wong about what i see (and i do hope that – i am not a hughes hater)

    let the kid wrk out his problems. without arod and posada right now the team may dig a hole so big fo itself it cant get out anyway

  • TurnTwo

    IMO, noone is doing Phil Hughes any favors by consistently saying, “by the way, Johan Santana had a 6.5ERA and Greg Maddux went less than 4 innings one out of every 4 games he started when they were the same age as Hughes,” blah, blah, blah.

    its not fair that he is continually compared to perhaps the 2 or 3 best pitchers in the game over the last 15 years, and over the last 5 years… makes the lofty expectations he’s been saddled with that much more of a burden as he continues to develop as a young pitcher.

    just let the kid pitch.

  • mustang

    I’m not going to bring up Santana he is a Met. I’m gong to bring up two other names A-Rod and Clemens. Guys which when they first became Yankees’ struggled.
    We know that Hughes can pitch at the MLB level he proved that last year. However, they took that small simple and created a monster. Took that monster and shopped at the winter meetings for one of the best pitchers in baseball. Later label that monster and made into part of the so-called ” Big 3″. The media took it and ran with it. Then they made it a starter in a rotation of 209 million dollar team. After 20 games they threaten to replace it. The one thing that was forgotten during this process was that it was ONLY 21 YEARS OLD.
    How can anyone expect a 21 year old to succeed with all the above when guys like A-Rod and Clemens had problems? This kid has been totally missed handled by this organization.

  • mustang

    This organization should of practice some the same patience they been preaching about and brought up these kids one at a time.
    They should of let Hughes built his required innings in AAA and let him come up as a back of the rotation guy. Allowing him to make mistake with out the pressures of being a key member of the rotation.

  • chris


    excuse me? Are you smoking something? Put Johan on the Yanks and they could arguable be the best team in the AL. Would there be a better 1-2 combo than Santana and Wang. Would the Yanks not be better off fo the next 5 years. Who knows what is going to happen in five years? Did the team wory about 5 years down the road. In this league things can change in a couple of years.

    True you need to worry about the future, but the Yanks in there hayday were commended for going out and getting Aces pitchers in their prime. It seemed that plan seemed to backfire after the Mussina signing and they abandoned it with the taste of RJ and Pavano still in their mouths.

    The Yanks had a chance to get their Beckett and they didn’t do it. i firmly believe that they did not do so not because of the money or talent they had to give up (at the end they could have gotten him without giving up the whole farm) – they did it because of the critisism they receive about their payroll. it is almost as if cashman wanted to prove he could win without just using money.

    Now we have to watch Johan win 20 games fo the mets while they remain WS contendes for the next 7 years and continue to be the red sox bitches for how long. What do these teams have in cmmon – each was willing to take a chance on trading young players. Hanley Ramirez could have and should have been strongly considered for an MVP last season. Do you think that the Sox regret that trade?

    I hope Hughes will turn out to be great although I don’t think he will ever be a star pitcher ans aill absolutly never be as good as Santana who will go down as one of the best pitchers of this generation – if not the best

    • GoYankees

      Don’t forget the Pavano factor. What do you have left if the star you gave all that talent and big cash for gets permanently injured?

    • mike

      To this point and those above – this drama around Santana denial stinks of half-measure, and points to why he (Cash) has to go.
      If Cash really believed in fiscal responsibility, and really wanted to integrate younger, less expensive players into the lineup, he could have traded Mussina for a bag of broken bats to Philly, because even the most ardent Mussina supporter would figure he would be barely a #5 and tax the bullpen every start – as he has done thus far. I say the Phills as that was a logical rumor point to begin the winter, and being close to his home and in the NL it would make sense on the surface. Cash could have taken anyone from the Phills and at worst he has $11 million to find us a #5 starter for one year- there is always a Colon/Morris/Leiber/ hanging around that you could plug-in, and cobble something together with Rasner, Karstens, Igawa types and get you thru for ALOT less money.
      Look further – Igawa – the Pads (reportedly) offered to take him off of our hands with the Yanks assuming most of his salary – Im assuming Cash could have gotten the deal done by taking 70% of that money on the contract. Some would say “thats a tremendous cost” but look at the info we have – he is not on the 25 man roster, he couldnt make the rotation out of spring training, he was not considered in any of these call-ups, and he demonstrated he could not pitch in the league effectively last year – hopefully he has adjusted, but to think he will be more than an average #5 would be a stretch. Fiscal responsibility tells you to cut your losses, because the money is already spent ( a la Giambino), so weigh the improvement / replacement cost, and if you come out ahead its the smart financial move to make. Apparently this was not done.
      So, we have a situation where we are trying to win now and hang on to those both old and new. Did anyone really think we would get 165-180 effective innings EACH out of Moose, IPK and Hughes? Leaving the bullpen to pick up an extra 75-80 innings? If so, did we really think they would win 45-50 games between them?
      When is the light to be shown at Cash? He seems like a nice guy and he has presided over the biggest money-maker ( despite what accountants are saying!!) franchise in sports as it has made more money than ever. However, we seem to give him more credit for wrestling control of the team from Big Stein than for managing a 250 million dollar payroll effectively. maybe, like Watsoin and Stick and Buck, we will one day look back at the framework he built, but i fear we more likely will look back and think of the many immortal players we had on our roster at one time yet were unable to get over the hump before thy got too old.

    • BigBlueAL

      i want to kiss u!!! no homo

      i wish i was as articulate as u were, cause u just made the best point ever in this ongoing debate, far better than obviously ive tried to make since all people do is rip the way i type and not pay attention to the point ive been triein to make cause i dont spell out my words.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    I love the guy. I think he’s going to be something special. The way he drops that curve in for a strike is awesome.

    However, he can’t be giving us 2-3 innings a start, almost each time out, even in the somewhat short term. It taxes the bullpen, and our W/L split with when Wang/Pettite/Moose pitches and when Phil/IPK pitches is pretty amazing.

    He needs to get his location back on focus in AAA. he’s 21. he has a ton of rope, still, in becoming a quality MLB starter.

    we need Rasner up here, and Phil in Scranton, for the time being.

  • mustang

    I’m glad to see that RAB did not put a spin on this one. The guys here are too good for that. I agree with the thread, but I fear it’s too little too late.
    I think the damage has been done and the best thing for Hughes is to go to AAA and get this Big 3 shit out of his head. Regain is Confidence and get back to being the pitcher we all know he can be.

    • Ben K.

      Sending him down to AAA would be a huge blow to his confidence. Demoting someone is a roundabout way toward getting that person’s head centered.

      Should we send Robinson Cano back to AAA too? He’s been just as bad as Hughes this year.

      • mustang

        Cano has a good track record in MLB.
        Hughes does not.
        What do you think getting hit around like last night is doing to his confidence? Getting booed
        Open your eyes Ben the kid is shot right now. Leaving him here is only going to cause more damage.

        • Ben K.

          Open your eyes and look at what Hughes did last season. 72.2 solid innings is something you just can’t ignore.

          • mustang

            You can’t ignore what he doing right now.
            We can do this all day.
            Wow… its like I said before with these 3 guys its a obsession.
            It doesn’t matter if its not working.
            I have a question how many more starters like last night will it take?
            HOW MANY MORE?
            Are you willing to tank this whole season just make these guys fit?

            • mustang

              Forget what said before about blinders it’s now BLINDFOLD.

              • Geno

                Blindfold? That’s just nutty. Sure, Hughes and Kennedy haven’t been dynamite right out of the gate, but so what? We’re a game out of first place, and it isn’t even May yet. They’ll get it turned around, but guess what? Neither one is winning the Cy Young this year. They’re young pitchers, in a big-time hitters league. They need to take their lumps – sooner or later.

                I predict both of them will have it turned around by mid-season, making us all forget the growing pains.

                • mustang

                  I hope your right.
                  This thread is the first time, at least that I can remember, where RAB admited some failure of the young starter without a spin. Even then some are still fighting it as you can see. LOL
                  I was for the deal, but even I can see why it wasn’t done and the benefits of these kids. Yet I can’t close my eyes to what is happening on the field.

    • Steve S

      Problem that no one is acknowledging is that if you send Hughes down then you pretty much are giving Kennedy one more start because he has been just as awful, if not worse than Hughes. I dont think the move is for the kid to go down. They made Dave Eisland the pitching coach for exactly this reason, he needs to develop at this level. And its not as if there is a great replacement in AAA right now, let alone finding two replacements.

  • Rich

    Singleton said after the game that Hughes’s fastball wasn’t moving. When he’s right, it has sick late life. So maybe he is squeezing the ball and/or he has a mechanical flaw. He also needs to work with a quality catcher who will consistently call for him to throw his secondary pitches, no matter what.

  • chris

    I apologize fo the johan talk. whats in the past is in the past. my final point on it is that it once again demonstrates why brian cashman is an overated GM. i put much of the blame on the yankee’s lack of playoff success squarely on his shoulders poor player decisions have lead to a bloated payroll and coupled with an, until recently, baren farm system has kept them from getting the top notch starter and star set-up man that this team has needed to compete in October.

    Anyway, IMO the decision on Hughes eally boils down to what the Yankees want to get out of this season. Do they allow Hughes to develop in the majors and take his lumps – something that was expected, but not to this extent or do they go out and overpay for a number 3 or 4 type stater at the trade deadline.

    Its a shame as it is the stadiums last year, but they need to stick with the plan they started in the offseason when they kept the big three on the team and put them on the big league roster. Any trades that they make should be done with the future in mind i.e. possibly unloading Damon’s salary at the deadline or maybe getting some prospects for Matsui, Giambi, or even Abreu, Under no circumstances should they trade for any veterans down the stretch unless we are talking about a quality set-up man with a few years left in the tank.

    Let the kids develop – maybe even bring up Jesus, Tabata, Gardner, or Ajax later in the season (if they can trade one of the above mentioned) and give them a cup of coffee. Recent history has shown that hitters tend to adjust to MLB pitching much more quickly than pitchers.

    In other words – let’s see what we have this season and advertise our youngsters for possible off season deals. Next offseason they go out and get a big bat (either a 1st baseman named Texiera or an outfielder), someone who could actually steal a base – a true centerfielder (no offense to melky but i think he would be better served as a LF and an Ace. Sabathia’s start and weight scares me, but I still go hard after him and their is also Ben Sheets who despite his injury risk has incredible stuff.

    Of course this all hinges on whether the Yankees are willing to and can deal either Matsui or Damon or both. If they could that frees up playing tim fr shelly duncan so we can see what we have and also see what we have with the young hitters down on the farm.

    For me this season presents a perfect opportunity to take stock in what you have and what you need. With 80 milion coming off the payroll and the new stadium projected to bring in an obscene amount of revenue (plus the benefit of no revenue sharing next season). Obviously, replacing Petitte is the numbe one piority, but there is a lot of work that can be done on the other side of the ball.

    Let Huges develop. The only reason that you send him down is if the team feels that his confidence is shot. On cuious thing about the pitch selection though. I understand a pitcher can call off a catcher, but pitches are called from the bench, if not the catcher. Make this kid use his other pitches. The thing about Bucholz that really impressed me is in his start agaisnt the Yanks, despite the fact that he got knocked around he recognized that the Yanks wee teeing off on his first pitch fastball and you could see him adjust by throwing his change-up early in the count. As it turned out the Yanks once again adjusted, but perhaps Phil could take a page out of this book. Start using the off speed stuff more to set up the fastball – at least once through the line-up and stat throwing inside more – hit a few guys start a brawl. pitching is not only about stuff but also about how you use it and the coaching staff needs to step in and teach this kid how to pitch – not how to throw

    if only we could combine kennedy and hughes into one pitcher

  • mustang

    I heard some crazy thing this morning on the FAN about the Yankees saying that Hughes is having problems pitching at night because of the lights at the Stadium. Anyone know anything about this?

    • JT

      It was because of this retarded statement that Girardi made about Hughes couldnt see the signs well, thus all of the cross ups with that insufficient catcher who i will refer to as “whats his face”.

      quote Girardi… “Hughes has problems seeing the pitch call at night”
      Seriously Girardi is bad at thinking of lies on the spot.

      • mustang

        Thank you.

  • Bo

    Hughes is/should be the 5th starter. Letting a 5th starter develop and taking some lumps now and again is par for the course. Making/Thinking he’d be the #3 starter this yr was foolish.

    They are going to need another SP. A quality vet.

    • RichYF

      A quality vet? Are you kidding me?

      Why do the Yankees HAVE TO WIN this year? 29 other teams are fine knowing they aren’t going to win every year. Not this team. Not these fans. Everyone wants 1996-2000 back. It isn’t happening. Get over it.

      Santana would have been amazing in the Bronx. Everyone is just speculating how the deal would have happened. You have no idea what the Twins wanted. “Oh well the Mets package was awful the Yanks could have easily trumped that.” If they did, I’m sure the Twins GM would go to the Sox with it and say something like, “Here’s what the Yanks are offering.” And then play both sides. This isn’t a video game. These GMs make a lot of money for a reason. They play their cards. Santana to the Mets didn’t really aggravate anyone because there are few teams in the NL that can afford a Santana. Getting him out of the AL was probably one of the biggest factors in making that trade.

      Let’s just call for Cash’s head though. Brilliant plan. If we had more Bartolo Colon’s and Livan Hernandez’s we’d be winning championships.

      We don’t need Melky, or Wang, or Kennedy, or Hughes. It would have taken at least 2-3 of them to get Santana. Piss poor return on investment IMO.

      Continue to believe that Cash is going in the wrong direction. When this team signs some “quality vets” next year under the control of a “better GM,” we’ll all be so thankful. We need some more mid-30-year-olds on this roster. It’s working out spectacularly for us so far.

  • DMan

    Hughes needs to learn the mental side of this game.

    Can that be taught in AAA? I don’t know.

    He’s never had to deal with this kind of thing before. He’s never been rattled like this.

  • mustang

    Those of you that killed me for wanting to make the deal read above. Yankees’ fans are not patient. They don’t care about 5 years down the road. They want a winner at any cost.
    Like I said before I did not want to give up the farm, but you could of had both kids and the ace. Yes, you probably would have lost Hughes and a few from the farm. Yet that’s what you do in baseball is try and find a balance.

    • JT

      Not all Yankee fans are impatient. I’m for one am willing to take accept a down year (but probably not 2) if it means that the Yankees will be a stronger club in the future (next year). That will only be the case if the 2 youngsters can turn things around. And just because we are an old team does not mean that the window for us to win another championship is getting smaller. We have a farm system that is producing viable replacements for the positions that will be lacking. With that said, I am very worried about Hughes at this point, but there is absolutely no point to retread the Johan issue.

    • mike

      Agreed – farmers do not eat all that what they grow!! The idea is to trade some stuff, even if you overpay, for that what you do not have. Thats why Cash made me nuts with Santana – all he was trying to do for the past years was get a shut-down ace. Players traded ( Rivera, Johnson, Dioner,Admiral etc) and treasure was never an issue. Javy, Brown,Randy, Roger – plus all the trades we tried to make but didn’t happen – all were brought in to be THE GUY. Now, when minor-leagures are standing in the way of THE GUY in his prime……..we blink because Cash wants to demonstrate to Theo his idea of building from within is the key. Great.
      We now have 35 right-handed goround-ball specialists at AAA, half of the best young players in our system have arm surgery ( not issues!!) and his plan of integrating the youngsters into the rotation instead of Hughes was dependent on Pettite resigning for one year!! A 35 year old guy about to be named in the Mitchell Report – so we have Pettitte for one year ( maybe he will grace us next year as well) instead of Pettitte and Santana……………..tell me what team you want to see

      • mustang

        “we blink because Cash wants to demonstrate to Theo his idea of building from within is the key. ”
        Excellent point and that’s very key here.
        I think a lot of this had to do with Cashamn’s ego and wanting to do this with his guys. I think the Theo thing also plays into it.
        I mean if you look at it Pettitte is the only lefty starter we have in the organization there no one in AA or AAA.
        So why on earth if you’re not close to developing someone like Santana would you not trade for him.
        I didn’t get that.

        • Geno

          Chase Wright? Kei Igawa?

          • mustang

            Come on give me someone I can work with.
            They both tried and sucked.
            Like I said NO ONE.

  • TomG

    While watching yesterdays game, something dawned on me; I don’t think I’ve ever seen Hughes brush anyone back. Phil can’t expect to get major league hitters out by throwing two pitches in the same locations for an entire game. No matter how good his fastball away at the knees and curveball are, he’s got to mix it up more. The hitters are sitting fastball, and he’s not giving them any reason to be afraid to reach out over the plate and get it. He needs to more aggressive and throw up and in a few times an inning, to keep them from leaning out over the plate. This will make the curve, slider and change, which he needs to throw a lot more often, more effective as well; the hitters are just too comfortable in the box against him. Psychologically speaking, it isn’t going to be easy for a 21 year old kid to make someone like Sheffield move his feet, but I think that and mixing his pitches are his keys to success.

  • http://2009 Haggs

    Stating the obvious here, but this wouldn’t be as big a deal if Kennedy was pitching ok. Hopefully he (IPK) turned a corner his last start and the Yanks will be able to be a little more patient with Phil.

    I wanted Johan too, but that ship has sailed, and we don’t really know for sure who was even involved (sorry but Hank and the truth are not too familiar with each other, and he was the only one naming names). To bring it up after every Hughes start doesn’t make much sense, unless you know somebody with a spare flux capacator (and not that Cabrera would have been a dealbraker for me, but the Yanks are a different and better team when Melky plays – see last night for an example of that.)

    Girardi should pull a coach Norman Dale on Phil. Walk him out to the rubber this afternoon, and measure the height of the mound and the distance to home plate. “Same here as in Trenton Phil, now man up and act like you belong.” As Girardi said, “He’s got to fight”. Amen.

    Lastly, its easy to blame Stewart, but Phil crossed up Molina about 3 times during their first game as a battery this year. Given that Stewart didn’t have any problems once Hughes left, perhaps Hughes is semi-retarded at recognizing signs. Just sayin.

    • A.D.

      Stewart actually had several problems with Ohlendorf

  • LiveFromNewYork

    I agree with your post Ben. But I think that there is some merit to asking what Girardi/Eiland are doing to help him besides making him face failure again and again. I had issues with last night’s lineup and think the first 2 runs were defensive mistakes. Without those it might have beeen different.

    Phil pitched phenomenol out of the bp during the playoffs. Maybe midseason we should switch him with Joba.

    I also think that Molina should have caught. I don’t blame Stewart for the crossups or Phil even. I blame Girardi.

    • LiveFromNewYork

      I meant Joe.

  • A.D.

    I think you send Hughes down for 2 reasons, to build confidence, and to make sure that there isn’t a greater problem. If he dominates AAA then he’s starts to feel good, fell confident and he can come up and pitch more like last year. If he doesn’t, same nibbling and not finishing hitters then there maybe a greater issue to be worked out, and it becomes more apparent.

    You send him down believing in him, with the expectation to bring him back in a month, he’s still a future ace of the franchise, just needs a bit more time

  • E-ROC

    I hope Hughes figures out his problems. Maybe Pettitte or Mussina should speak to him about his problems.

    • LiveFromNewYork

      Gee I bet they hadn’t thought of that.

  • Setty

    I agree with TomG’s post above. I still have yet to find a reason from anyone why Hughes is only a 2 pitch pitcher. Why isn’t he throwing his change or slider more? Are the Yanks not letting him throw the slider for fear of injury? Are they just not Major League pitches as of now? Can somebody PLEASE fill me in. I like Hughes’ potential a lot, but I dont see how he can reach the Ace status the Yanks project him to reach with only a 91 mph fastball and a curve

  • Rob

    Can we please stop the Johan talk! The trade didn’t happen, it’s over, move on. It’s pointless to waste breath and comments on whether or not they should’ve made the trade! Reading this comment thread is like listening to Mike and the Mad Dog discussing whether or not Delgado should be booed for 4 hours! ENOUGH!!!


    I’m very worried right now. Hughes and IPK have been nothing short of awful and there is nothing for me to believe that they will improve so much that it will make the non-Johan trade worthwhile.

    It’s not like they have great stuff but are having command or confidence issues – I could live with that. The problem is that their stuff is average AND they have command and confidence issues. I’m sorry, but Phil Hughes has 2 average pitches – a 91-92 MPH straight fastball and an inconsistent curve…that’s it! IPK has nice breaking stuff, but his fastball is pathetic and he throws more like current-day Mussina.

    I really just can’t see these kids ever developing into something where we can look back and honestly say, “hey you know what, smart move keeping these kids in a trade for the best pitcher on the planet in his prime.” I know this post will upset some people, but its just how I feel. I’ve watched a lot of baseball over the years and know the “goods” when I see it, and these kids don’t have it.

    Finally, for those who say, “hey man, these kids pitched great last year.” Did anyone ever think that it might of had something to do with the fact that the league wasn’t familiar with them and the teams they pitched well against only saw them once (except for Cleveland who saw Hughes twice). I have another picther for you who picthed great during his first “real” time around the Majors….Aaron Small. Now I’m not saying that Hughes and IPK are the same as Small, but I am saying to chill with the justification of their greatness by a very small sample during their first time around the Bigs. Everyone picther has an advantage the first time around, its when the league see’s you and adapts that people can access what kind of picther you will be. During their second tenure at the ML level, I am scared at what I’m seeing from Hughes and IPK.

    • keith

      Kennedy’s average fastball is 90.22mph

      • LLOYD

        Is that supposed to be good? Since when did a 90MPH fastball (which by the way is NOT consistently thrown by him) become above average?

        • keith

          Uh, his average fastball is 90.22mph, how can you say that’s “NOT” what he consistently throws?

          You called his fastball “pathetic” and compared him to a 39yr old Mussina. You’re quite wrong as Mussina’s fastball averages 86.5mph. A 4mph difference is quite large.

          I’m not contending that Kennedy has pitched well, I’m just pointing out that you’re an idiot.

          • LLOYD

            Good one, retard. Anyone with an IQ over 10 will tell you that IPK’s fastball is by far his weakest pitch and that teams will (and have) been able to hammer it.

            You can do all the website searching you want for what the precise readings are (to the very last decimal point – loser) for his pitches – I’m just pointing out what is actually HAPPENING ON THE FIELD. And that is, IPK is getting crushed.

            And the comparison to Mussian is widespread, its not like I just pulled that out of the sky. Everything about them is the same, with the exception that Mussina threw in the low to mid 90’s when he was IPK’s age, and IPK can barely hit 90. Anything else, genius?

            • keith

              You were pointing out that Kennedy throws his fastball just like a “current day Mike Mussina”, I looked up their average velocities and proved you wrong. It wasn’t very hard to do, so try researching some shit next time before spouting off like a douchebag.

              Anyway, anyone “with an IQ over 10” would know that Kennedy’s fastball is serviceable when he displays his normal excellent command and control. So far, he hasn’t. His start vs CLE was decent, save for one inning (where he didn’t even get hit all that hard ), so hopefully he can regain his command(or just stop being scared to throw strikes) and cut down the nibbling/walks.

    • LiveFromNewYork

      IPK is not having the same issues as Hughes. He’s a finesse pitcher who is not getting calls a lot. Very squeezed but he’s turning around. Phil is another issue. Don’t lump the two of them together. I think IPK will rebound nicely.

      The Johan thing was not Johan for Phil. We offered them a good package that was not good enough. We refused to negotiate more. They were tying up the Yankes and Red Sox in a way they did not tie up the Mets. We STILL don’t know what would have sealed the deal but the price was TOO HIGH. LET IT GO. Anyone who keeps simplifying the Johan trade is an idiot. We still dont’ know what we could have possibly given them for Johan. We pulled back rather than continuing to sweeten the pot. And the Mets got Johan for a lot less than we had originally offered. My sense is that the TWinkies wanted him out of the American League. LET IT GO.

      Was Watching has a great column today about the Edinson Volquez lesson we should take from this. And he’s right.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos

        Excellent point, and one I was beating like a dead horse during the trade talks – We were being charged a premium, over other teams, because we’re the Yankees and we’ve been Minnesota’s nemesis in the AL. There is no way we were going to get a fair price for Santana, because once the Twins organization gets back to a level of competitiveness, they don’t want to see Johan come into the Metrodome (or whatever stadium they’re playing in) and shut them out twice in an ALDS wearing a Yankee uniform. If you have a bomb that’s about to blow up, you get it as far away from yourself as you possibly can.

        I actually advocated for the trade for most of the winter, but it quickly became apparent that the Twins weren’t going to deal with either us or the Red Sox unless they could get an absolute screw-job. So, I switched and became anti-trade. And all the people who are still pro-trade now should remember that whatever prospective deal you have in your head that you think Cashman was an idiot for turning down, consider the very high probability that it was never really on the table.

        It probably would have taken Hughes/Wang + IPK + Melky + Horne + AJax/Tabata for that deal to happen. And I know that Santana is a beast, the best around, but you’d need truckloads of KY Jelly to make that deal sound reasonable.

  • pete

    i say give him one more chance against seattle. Go by innings – if he can’t get out of the fourth, send him down to AAA. If he goes 5 or 6 mediocre innings, keep him up for his next start, but send him down if he doesn’t perform in that one. If he pitches great for 6 or 7, keep him in and give him two chances to duplicate or in some way resemble his performance.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos

    Here’s the most important thing: It’s the last day of April, and we’re only a game back of first. Thus, we can afford to be creative here in trying to solve our problems.

    Here’s what I’d like to see:

    A) Send Hughes down, but not to Scranton. Send him back to Tampa on a rehab assignment – call it shoulder tightness or whatever you like – and let him work with Nardi Contreras and Billy Connors. Give him two weeks down on the farm refining his delivery and working on his mechanics, clearing his head, and hopefully regaining some velocity. This lets him focus on getting stronger and working on his third pitch, while allowing him to gain confidence at AA and AAA rehab starts without the stigma of a standard demotion.

    Call up Rasner and give him the 5th starter spot. He can eat up innings for six weeks.

    When Hughes gets back up, move Joba down (mid May) and begin stretching him out. Let EVERY SINGLE VIABLE OPTION ON THE 40-MAN (LaTroy, Albie, Ohlendorf, Edwar, Britton, Patterson, Veras, Steven White, Jeff Marquez, and The Sandwich Pick) get a callup and a shot at the 7th and 8th innings. May and June should be used to find out who can handle the pressure of being the bridge, and the goal is to find two or three good relievers who can approximate Bruney-level excellence. Between that crew, and the probable August/September callups of J.B Cox, David Robertson, and Alan Horne (if he’s healthy), we’ll definitely find a squad of 4-5 reliable pen options (plus Mo and the winner of the lefty spot audition) for the playoffs and won’t need to carry on this stupid “Joba in the pen” blather.

    The goal is for Rasner to hold the fort for the next month and a half and allow us to get both Hughes and Joba straightened out and in the rotation while not killing the pen.

  • Nate

    Nah- a stint in AAA definitely wouldn’t help your ‘phenom’. You know what would, though?

    49,194 douchebags booing him.

    Well done- you guys eat your young, too?

    • Glen L

      I was at the game last night and it infuriated me to no end to listen to all those idiots boo him. Its not like he isn’t trying or satisfied with what he’s doing

      Hey i’m all for booing pavano, but booing a struggling 21 year pitcher with the weight of a franchise being thrust upon him does no good, nor is it remotely fair

      If anyone reading this was one of the assholes booing him as he left the mound last night, here’s a giant FUCK YOU for ya

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos

    List of people, in the entire world, who deserve to be booed:

    George Bush
    Bill O’Reilly
    Osama Bin Laden
    Paris Hilton
    Any douchebag who thinks there’s a valid reason to boo anybody ever other than the four above people

    -End of List

    • LiveFromNewYork

      I like this list. Though I did boo David Ortiz when he and Jeter were neck n neck for MVP (and neither got it).

      I will never boo a person wearing pinstripes. Not even Farnsworth or Hawkins. STUPID.

  • adam b.

    as bad as hughes was i think something is being overlooked, namely the fact that the abomination known as chris stewart was catching him and looking absolutely clueless out there, I mean i know its his first start there and all the pressure, but it doesnt excuse him from not getting on the same page as his pitcher. i think that was a bad job on girardi’s part, if anyone needed a veteran like molina behind the plate for him it is hughes. I think Leiter was dead on, Hughes can’t just live on his fastball and curveball he needs to mix his pitches more and just trust himself and his stuff. i dont think I’m overstating how big stewart was last night in hughes poor outing, i mean how is hughes supposed to have any confidence on the mound when his catcher is looking like nhe’s never been behind the plate before?

  • BigBlueAL

    in the immortal words of Rob Neyer and Baseball Prospects, TINSTAAPP. which translates: “There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect”. except for Joba :)

    i just read this again in a blog today, so i figured id post it to further enrage people.

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  • chris

    Many on this site are big Hughe’s fans, but I am wondering – is he that good? I look at Bucholz and see great stuff even when he struuggles.

    All I read about Hughes was how he had a top notch fastball – 93-95 and a great curve. I see none of this. Even when pitchers get hit hard because of poo location you can still see zip on the fastball, late life and hard breaks on their breaking stuff. I look at Hughes and see a third stater. It really makes me wonder about the Yankees talent evaluators. Hughes was obviously overraterated so why didnt the yankees see that? I am not speaking about the Santana deal in specific more asking why this kid was so “untouchable”?

    As for Cashman — since the great deal he made getting David Justice, what exactly has he done to make this team better through baseball mobes – i.e. those not involving money, but involving trade, the draft etc – Joba not withstanding athough I think it was extremly short sited not having him as a starter this year and trading some of the other “untouchables” who hardly seem to deserve that title now

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