Hughes ready for ’09

BA's Top 20 Hawaii Winter Baseball Prospects
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Phil Hughes had a terribly disappointing 2008. There’s really no way around that fact. The subject of numerous true and untrue Johan Santana rumors, the Yanks expected big things out of the 22-year-old in 2008, but injuries derailed his season. He flashed some signs of life at the end of the year and had a generally stellar showing in the Arizona Fall League. To that end, Hughes is ready for 2009, as he told Mark Feinsand today. We lose sight of the fact that Hughes is still young, but there is no reason he won’t be a good Major League starter. While critics may say, “Fool me twice” and warn about over-hyping Hughes again, I’m expected big things from the right-hander next year.

BA's Top 20 Hawaii Winter Baseball Prospects
RAB Live Chat
  • mustang

    Agree. Very objective.

  • pat

    I’d really like to see hughes and kennedy get a good amount of starts in scranton to begin the year. Its tough because they can both be very successful in the minors by having good fastball command and control of a decent offspeed pitch. When you get to the bigs tho, thats a different story. I can understand why they dont wanna sit in scranton constantly trying to throw their change for strikes and getting slapped around when they could dominate with the fb and curve.

    • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

      I really do not see how both Hughes and Kennedy are not in this rotation if we are not going to sign Pettitte.

      In that article it says Hughes is hoping to pitch 150 to 175 innings this year. Joba if we are lucky gets those sorts of innings as well. Right now our rotation is 3 guys you can not count on. We better get some numbers and not just CC. We need to get some bodies in here because I do not want to see Kei Igawa pitching any games or tax the hell out of the pen so much so early that it is dead come early summer.

  • Chip

    I think Hughes either starts in the bullpen following Joba or maybe alternates starts with Joba to start the season. I mean even in a blow-out, at least Hughes is getting the innings in against actual major league hitters. I’d say he finishes with about a 4.50 ERA this season and really breaks out next season

    • whozat

      Yeah. 4 inning mop-up-man is a great way to develop a young starter. He’s better off starting in the minors on a regular schedule. There WILL be an opening at some point in the big league rotation, whether it’s an injury thing or they shut Joba down for a couple weeks, or whatever. Better to have him pounding that cutter and changeup in games that don’t matter than throwing 4-inning stints that don’t matter half the time.

      • Chip

        I think 4 inning mop-up man IS a great way to develop a starter

        In the minors, he can get away with things that he can’t get away with against major league hitters. There are just some things that you’re not going to learn while playing at AAA which is why I’d argue for them to bring him in for spot starts and long relief. If/when somebody goes down, he’s got experience against major league hitters in low-leverage situations so hopefully he doesn’t just get tatooed again.

        • whozat

          It ignores every other aspect of starting. It ignores the need to develop and execute a game plan. It ignores the need to turn a lineup over three or four times. It ignores learning how to throw pitches 80-110 effectively when you’re getting kinda tired. It ignores the need to build endurance over the course of a long season.

          Your plan also involves pulling Joba out of games early when he’s cruising. Which would seem like it’s kinda stupid. Or, if he’s doing great and throws a solid seven…does phil throw 2 innings? Or does he take that day off? What if it’s close? Does Mo not come in?

          • Bo

            You realize this is how Santana got his start and feet wet right?

            This was the tried and true method in developing starters. I’d ather have Hughes as the long man learning here than just going thru the motions and overpowering AAA hitters.

            • Matt

              What makes you so sure he will overpower 3A hitters? At SWB last year he had a 5+ era and in 29 innings he gave up 34 hits…

              From some scout saying he lost velocity from what they saw in winter ball, I want him to start in 3A.

              If he, as you say, ‘overpowers’ in SWB for a solid 2 months, then yes, bring him up, but I don’t need to see him every 5th day getting lit up, but hearing how he’s got ‘great stuff’ and he ‘just needs to fine tune it’….

              • Chip

                Which is why you stick him in the bullpen to start the year. Also, his 29 innings are WAY too small of a sample size and most of that was while he was recovering from an injury. In his career, he’s destroyed the minor leagues.

                • Matt

                  Yes, pre injury….

                • Chip

                  So we should assume he forgot how to pitch and trade him away? You have to assume that, if he’s really healthy, he’s not going to be worse than before he got hurt (once he’s got his arm strength back that is)

                • Matt

                  Whoa, whoa, whoa…I’ve never said anything about trading him.

                  I just think he needs to reprove himself.

                • Old Ranger

                  Phil was under orders to throw his cutter curve and change-up, no matter what happened. Very good idea too, it makes one work on your weakest pitches to get people out…therefore, he was knocked around a bit but, it payed off later. 27/09.

            • Chip

              Not only Santana, a lot of guys on innings limits and such were brought along the same way

              I’d like the comparison better to Oswalt’s first season (age 23)


              He put up 172 innings between AAA and the major leagues. They started him in the bullpen until he proved himself and then they slotted him in the rotation and he never looked back

            • steve (different one)

              i don’t disagree with this concept, but Santana was a slightly different situation.

              Santana was a Rule V pick, so the Twins could not send him to the minors. they had to “hide” him on their roster in 2000.

            • Jamal G.

              You do realize that the Twins did not have the luxury of letting Johan Santana develop any further in the Minor Leagues because he was a Rule 5 pick, right?

          • Chip

            Whoa there buddy, I’m not advocating using Phil to only follow Joba and nothing else. I’d argue to bring him in when somebody comes out after the 3rd or 4th inning and make spot starts.

            Use him like Ramiro Mendoza in 1998, spots starts and 3 inning relief efforts. If Pettite gets lit up by the second inning, let Phil come in and throw five innings. Joba has 95 pitches through the fourth and you’re down 12-3? Bring in Phil!

            That way he still has to get through a lineup a few times while getting innings in. It’s not like he doesn’t know how to throw 100 innings. My point is, he’s going to get just as many innings as he would at AAA but do it against major league pitchers. It’s always my opinion that guys don’t deserve a spot in the rotation until they prove they can consistently get major league hitters out.

            • whozat

              And you know what a great way for him to do that would be? By coming up to fill-in for the inevitable injury that’s going to happen at some point.

              That’ll keep him on a regular schedule, he’ll be working on game plans and studying lineups, and he’ll be seeing major league hitters. He’ll also get to develop his cutter and change more in AAA, which he’ll need when he becomes a big-leaguer full-time. You think he’s REALLY going to go out in MLB games and WORK on things? With real outs to get? He added the cutter THIS season. He should really spend more time with it in AAA. Let him do that, let him work on how to mix it in, and then when someone goes down in may or june (which they almost certainly will, especially if they sign Burnett) he can come up.

              • Chip

                That’s a good point but it’s not like he’s going to be relying on his change in the majors. It’s a pitch to keep hitters off-balance. My point again is that you might be able to get a pathetic change-up by a minor league hitter who thinks it’s the curve but David Ortiz probably won’t confuse it with the curve and hammer it. I think you learn the pitch and get a feel for it during your bullpens and you learn how to use it against real major-league competition.

                Either way, he’s still your injury protection. And yes, I think he’ll really go out in MLB games and work on things. He’ll work on getting major league hitters out which is about the only thing he hasn’t learned yet and he can’t learn in the minors

                • whozat

                  “I think you learn the pitch and get a feel for it during your bullpens and you learn how to use it against real major-league competition.”

                  No…you get a feel for it in bullpens, you build confidence in using it against real hitters in the minors, and then you break it out in the bigs. Unless you’re a seasoned veteran, that’s how you do it.

                  A crappy change is a crappy change. A pitcher knows, a catcher knows, his coaches know. If he’s working on a pitch, and it’s getting guys out in AAA but still kinda bites, no one’s going to think he should go throw it in the bigs. I’d like to see a couple more months of getting hitters out with his cutter and change before putting him up against big leaguers again. Why? Because he needs to feel certain that he has consistent command of these pitches, and I doubt that he does yet.

  • Eric

    Maybe he should go back to #65.

    Regardless, go Phil in 09!

    • Mike A.

      He did go back to 65 after his callup in September.

      • Eric

        Oh he did? I don’t have YES up at school so I just went by gameday and phone calls to the GF. Now I’m glad my t-shirt doesn’t look stupid, just like the #33 Soriano I got before he changed to #12.

  • Matt

    I want him to reprove himself at 3A until september call ups…

    • whozat

      That just seems punitive.

      If he’s showing command of the cutter — in addition to his FB and his curve — and there’s a need…bring him up. If the change is usable at that point as well, so much the better.

      I’d love to see

      Sheets (2, 3 years?)

      With Hughes and Kennedy providing depth, and guys like Aceves, Coke, Wright, and maybe a Danny Geise behind them. I think that’s a setup with lots of upside, some risk, and a lot of depth.

      • Eric

        That’s not bad, I like Sheets and I guess Pettitte would be gone after a year. Hughes could swap starts with Chamberlain to keep both of their innings down and I think Kennedy could go long relief along with Aceves. Perhaps Hughes or one of the others could fill in if any of the starters go down with injuries.

        • Chip

          I also agree with signing Sheets but all the GMs seem very cool on him. It’ll be very interesting to see if he’s offered arbitration

          • Eric

            It’s pretty much a toss up in my mind with Sheets or Burnett. I wouldn’t be ecstatic or bummed about either guy.

            What if the Yankees don’t land any of the big name FA pitchers? What would the rotation look like? Probably…

            Igawa? Giese? Kennedy? Aceves? Coke? Horne? Me? You? The ghost of Jack Chesbro?

            • Chip

              That’s not a good rotation by anyone’s measure. I mean you have two guys on innings limits plus no solid number 5. That’s just ugly.

              Of course, the Yankees WILL sign somebody, that you can count on

              • Eric

                Just sayin’ what if?

      • Old Ranger

        I would also but, will it come to fruition? 27/09.

    • Jamal G.

      I want people to make rational arguments on this topic, but as the song says…

      • Eric

        I’m so up in the air about Hughes and where he starts the year. I feel like it’s not necessary to have him pitch in the minors again but maybe I’m a little gun shy at starting him in the Majors; and if two FAs are signed, where’s there gonna be room for him? Whatever. I just want him to succeed long term.

  • blee

    I always expect good things from Hughes… This is the year!

  • Mike Pop

    Im more excited about Hughes then I am about Joba to tell you the truth… I know Joba is probably going to be the better pitcher in the long run but Phil the Thrill I have always liked more…
    I remember some asshole from my work was saying how he “gaurantees” Hughes to be the better SP than Hughes because how Joba gave up a home run to a kid at his college… Manhattan ? I think it was.. I was like cmon dude give me a break.. Dumb Mets Fans

    • Bronx Cheer

      Work dude listens to Mike and the Mad Dog and regurgitates. (The Joba outing vs. Manhattan was one of Francessa’s favorite negative talking points for a while). Says a lot about how knowledgeable he is about sports.

    • Michael Scott

      Mike Pop,

      Don’t sleep on Kei Igawa! The guy has had monster numbers at AAA and was said to have worked on a pitch that no one has seen before outside of Japan.

  • Mike Pop

    Hughes to be the better SP than Joba****************

  • Old Ranger

    CMW, Joba, FA(?), Andy, Phil, with Aceves, IPK, Coke and Giese. Of the last five, who pitched respectfully in the Majors? How about Joba and Giese, both of them put in good showings…Giese pitched some very good games for us and so did Joba, Giese seems like he is a 5 or 6 inning pitcher. He starts out well then around the 5th or so things start to happen, the ball starts to slide (very little brake or none) the command slips, fast ball gets up…all are not good.

    Joba (if healthy) is good enough as a #3 starter (for now) and he will learn to harness his effort better…#1 starter next year (2010 unless we get CC). If he reaches his potential, he could be better (or as good) as CC.
    So, one good FA pitcher and those we have can get the job done, granted they have a lot of IFs in there, but a repeat of 2008 need not happen in 2009…we have a few more guys that can step in then we had last year. Hay, if we don’t get a top of the line starter, we have to go with what we have and get the job done… no crying in sports or war, and believe me this is war. 27/09.

  • Pablo Zevallos

    Phil Hughes had a terribly disappointed 2009.

    Don’t you mean 2008?

  • ceciguante

    i think you’re being foolish to expect “big things” out of hughes this year, Arizona Fall League (haha…) or not.

    hope for them?


    expect them?


    • Ben K.

      Well, now that depends on how you define big things, no?