Feb
16

Yanks saying all the right things about Hughes and Kennedy

By

Save the Big Three! We still say it today, though not with as much fervor as we did last winter. Clearly, one is safe. Another is relatively safe. The last is the subject of many chat queue trade proposals and character slams. Still, even Ian Kennedy could prove to be a valuable asset to the Yankees following a year in which he not only pitched horribly at the major league level, but alienated some fans with his over-confidence following a shelling. Kat O’Brien catches up with the young hurlers, but most importantly she catches up with Brian Cashman and Dave Eiland to shed some light on two controversial Yankees.

First up is Cashman, who says exactly what he needs to say:

“In terms of what they can be, they haven’t dropped in our opinion,” Cashman said.

Fine wording by Cashman. He implicitly acknowledges their poor 2008 campaigns while still noting that it doesn’t categorize them as busts. They’re still young and have time to prove their worth to the team, even if their worth amounts to currency in a trade.

As for the pitchers themselves, you might have heard that Hughes showed up to camp a bit heavier. The line, for now, is that he added 10 pounds of muscle. That brings him well above his weight for last season, which O’Brien notes was “his lowest weight since the middle of high school.” We’ll see if that extra off-season work can help him stay healthy throughout 2009. He could easily get a dozen starts in the Bronx if he does.

Kennedy seems his regular confident self after a winter of dominating the Puerto Rican winter league. He went down there to work on his curveball and his command, and in doing so managed a 1.56 ERA in 34.2 innings. He’ll face stiffer competition this season, but that can be good for him as he continues his development. “I feel better now than I ever have as a pitcher,” said Kennedy. “I just feel more complete than I ever did before.”

Neither pitcher is likely to open the season in the rotation. Yet, as Eiland tells it, they’re both ready for whatever the Yanks throw at them. “In their minds, they need to feel like they’re competing for a spot,” said Eiland. “We still have very high expectations for those two. We still look at them as we always have, that they’re going to play a major role in this organization – if not today, not too far off.”

Categories : Spring Training
  • A.D.

    Well hopefully those comments from Kennedy signal that he did improve his curveball command in the winter leagues

    • Drew

      I think he walks too many, and the K’s he gets in the minors are balls in the majors.

  • Will

    If Hughes continues to dominate AAA and his starts in the majors this year, could we assume he would be the 5th starter for 2010?

    • steve (different one)

      you never know with the Yankees, but i think that’s a fair assessment right now.

      • Jay CT

        I assume that is the plan that Cashman has. They are finally doing it the right way; making them earn their spot one at a time. Earning a spot based on being a September callup is not a smart idea because you are facing other September callups, so the audition is skewed

    • A.D.

      thats probably the Yankee’s hope & plan

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      I would imagine so. I think the master plan is to have him come up and string together some good starts once Joba approaches his innings limit, and then take over Pettitte next year.

    • mustang

      Agree that is a good plan.

  • Troy

    Nice to hear about Kennedy. Hey, at this point he might be mere depth, but if called upon, if he can provide solid outings, I’ll have no problems with him.

    • Jay CT

      I think next offseason (or at the deadline) is when Kennedy gets moved. I think people have given up on him too quickly; I never believed he would become a number 1 or 2, but he has only pitched a few innings in the majors, under intense scrutiny, and I believe he will be ok and become a good number 3 type pitcher

  • http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_postseason.jsp?c_id=nyy&playerID=121250&statType=2 Slugger27

    itll be interesting to see what they do with these 2 over the next couple years

    next year we will still have cc, wang, joba, aj taking up 4 rotation slots, so even if both of them dominate AAA, it seems only 1 can crack the rotation next year…. i know depth is a good problem to have, but u gotta figure these guys could start getting annoyed/frustrated if they have to be in AAA again in 2010

    • 27 this year

      There will be a spot for one of them and if they do well in 09, who knows, we might see Wang traded. However, if Kennedy proves himself in a little bit in the majors this year, he could become more valuable trade bait. These things ahve a way of working out.

      • http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_postseason.jsp?c_id=nyy&playerID=121250&statType=2 Slugger27

        ur right, they do have a way of working out… but i find this particular situation interesting cuz theyve both already been given rotation spots, and both failed….. i think that changes things mentally for both of them

        obviously, valuable trade bait is just as good of an asset as a good pitcher, im just curious to see how they handle things if both pitchers have a sub 2.00 era come july

        • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

          They will just put Joba in the pen where he belongs!!!

          Yes, I’m just joking.

    • Drew

      Thats life.

  • http://nyfaninboston.blogspot.com/ Manimal

    Girardi was talking yesturday about how “Hughsie” called him alot this off season and they talked about how Hughes should learn from last year, and use it to get better. He also spoke about attacking the zone as well.

  • Chris

    I just noticed that Hughes is 6 months younger than Brackman….

    • http://nyfaninboston.blogspot.com/ Manimal

      Wow, I had no Idea.

      • http://nyfaninboston.blogspot.com/ Manimal

        Baseball wise though, they are no where near eachother. Hughes is much more mature.

      • gxpanos

        My Red Sox fan friends are always giving me crap for never wavering on Hughes. Then I just tell them he’s like two years younger than the Laptopper.

    • whozat

      Yeah, he was drafted out of HS.

      This is why it’s so absurd when people call Hughes a bust. Last year was the first spring training he could go out and have a beer with the guys. He’s an infant.

    • A.D.

      Thats why its redic that people consider Hughes a bust but still consider Brackman some great young prospect

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      I think he was the first high school pitcher from the 2004 draft to make the bigs. At the very least he was the first high profile HS draftee.

      • A.D.

        Homer Bailey is close, but Hughes wins

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

          Gallardo was right there too.

  • Rich

    Pelfrey, E. Santana, and Lester all had break out seasons last year after being underwhelming in the prior season. There is no reason why Hughes can’t do the same thing, and I’m actually confident that he will.

    Kennedy is more of an open question.

    • Reggie C.

      I think Pelfrey, E. Santana, and Lester all have consistent FB velocity and control. Hughes’s velocity wasn’t consistent but the control was there.

      • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

        2008 was the first Major League season that Jon Lester posted a BB/9 rate below 4.40, and Mike Pelfrey below 4.80.

      • Rich

        Actually, Hughes did not have command of his pitches last season which was the primary reason for his ineffectiveness, apart from the rib injury.

        Prior to last season, command was Hughes’s strength.

        Also, Hughes’s FB velocity was fine before he had the hamstring/ankle injuries in ’07.

        Let’s also not forget that Hughes is 22, while Pelfrey just turned 25, Santana just turned 26, and Lester just turned 25.

        I think Hughes has as much upside as any of them, if not more, as will soon become apparent.

  • Lanny

    Hughes put on 10 lbs of muscle? It’s probably HGH.

    • Drew

      I heard its chicken wings.

  • http://www.nowlive.com/comboplayer/NewComboPlayer.aspx?id=129711&override=true Joey H

    Will he still be afraid to show that curveball at the ML level? With all due respect to the P.R. League hitters but they are no MLB hitters. I’ll believe it when I see it. is this pitch a legit out pitch now?

    • Ryan S.

      Kennedy better show off that curve in the majors if and when gets the opportunity to. I know that when IPK got sent down, he was under strict orders to work on the command of his curveball – it could very well be the difference between him succeeding and being a AAAA pitcher.

  • http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/group.php?gid=43434432275 Ace

    What exactly did Ian Kennedy say that got everyone’s panties in a bunch after he got shelled that time?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Something like he didn’t think he pitched all that bad. Don’t remember the exact quote, but people freaked the eff out.

      • K.B.D.

        It was after he got shelled at Anaheim. Think it was 8ER in 4IP. He just didn’t seem that upset, so people said he was too cocky and the bust/trade bait talk swept the world.

      • Ryan S.

        Yeah the comments were probably innocent in his mind, but he came off as cocky. Everyone overreacted, but IPK was pretty stupid for not being anything but humble and willing to take responsibility for his suckiness. I still really like the kid, but I think we’ll need to see a few other top-tier prospects become injured or be flat-out busts for him to get another shot at being a Yankee. I bet IPK has another great yer in the minors, is showcased a few times in September, and gets dealt for something this off-season.

        Still, he’s only two pitchers concurrently going on the DL away from getting an opportunity, assuming Hughes gets the first shot. Also, IPK is good for 180+ innings this year … Hughes, probably in the 150 range (correct me if I’m wrong there Mike). If we need a pitcher in the latter part of the season, Kennedy might get the nod.

      • jllive

        What he said wasn’t all that bad. It was the media who jumped all over his comments like rabid dogs and stirred up the nest of jump off a cliff Yankee fans.

    • http://bigbluepinstripes.blogspot.com/ LB

      “I felt like I made some good pitches and got out of the second inning. ‘I am not too upset about it’. You move on, and I have already done that. I am not going to look too much into it”- Ian Kennedy

      It was after a game in which we lost to the Angels 10-5

      • http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/group.php?gid=43434432275 Ace

        People need to relax. That isn’t so bad.

        • http://bigbluepinstripes.blogspot.com/ LB

          Eh..still…it was a little annoying to hear that from him after the team lost like that. But, time to move on from that.

        • Drew

          In a pennant race to say your not upset was absurd If I’m upset about it shouldn’t he act like he cares. Also Girardi killed him for it.

    • mustang

      Kennedy, “Not Upset” … You Can’t Be Serious !!!
      “It’s always disappointing, but it’s my first bad outing in a long time, since the All-Star break”, said, Ian Kennedy, whose previous seven starts were in the minor leagues”.

      “I felt like I made some good pitches and got out of the second inning. ‘I am not too upset about it’. You move on, and I have already done that. I am not going to look too much into it”. … Ian Kennedy, after Yankees 10-5 loss to Angels

      Thats just one them there are others.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

        Thats just one them there are others.

        Like what? I don’t remember any other comments than the ones after that game.

        • mustang

          I remember him mouthing off something about not getting a chance or something like that one of the times he got sent down.

          • MattG

            My first thoughts when I heard those comments were, “Good for him. He realizes it was just one of those things were the results are bad.” The Angels singled him to death, and several balls looked to be within reach more nimble infielders.

            But the fan base didn’t agree with me, obviously.

            • Yankeegirl49

              I agreed with you…I actually liked what he said. I didnt find it cocky at all. I couldnt understand what those that were upset wanted..him to run off crying? Im glad he thinks he has what it takes and can shrug off bad outings. I’d much rather him think he belongs in the majors than have a start such as that scare him to death.

            • mustang

              I see both your points, but after 10 games [9 starts] and a record (0-4) with a 8.17 ERA the comments just upset people.

              He is young he made a mistake hopefully he learned from it and he will move on to do much better this year.

              • Yankeegirl49

                Which is another issue I have..its TEN games, a bit of a small sample size..especially for a kid, which he still is.
                Greg Maddux sucked when he first came up, good thing no one gave up on him.

                We’d all love for every pitcher in our system to come to the majors and have a Gooden type rookie year, but come on..thats the exception, not the rule. Im in no way saying IPK or Hughes for that matter will be an ace, but its a bit early to call them busts.

                • mustang

                  Totally agree.

        • mustang

          The New York Times:
          The person who seemed to take the loss easiest was Kennedy, who was expected to be a major contributor after three strong starts last September. He continued to say that he made good pitches, dismissing the six singles he allowed and saying he was mildly surprised when Girardi took him out.

          • Chris

            So people are upset that he accurately judged his performance? He did make good pitches. He also gave up a couple bloop doubles and some groundball singles. It’s not like he went out and gave up four HR in a row.

            • mustang

              You have to understand the team wasn’t winning and too much was expected from him from to start with. He said the wrong thing at the wrong time and got shelled for it.

              • Chris

                Basically you’re saying that because other people are overreacting, then he should too?

                • mustang

                  No what I’m saying is that he should of know when to keep his mouth shut.
                  Hughes who is 2 years younger and much more talented managed it and he was going through the same situation.

                  It was a mistake the only positive is if he learned something from it.

                • Chris

                  This is what I don’t understand… people are basically asking him to lie and make the same trite meaningless comments that everyone says. When A-Rod says this stuff, people say he’s just pandering. When Jeter says it, people comment on how good he is with the media. I would much rather have players that are honest and express their feelings.

                • Drew

                  Jeter has never said hes not upset or doesn’t care after a loss, thats the worst example I’ve ever heard.

                • mustang

                  No. People are asking him to keep certain things to himself. For bad or good he is in the public eye and needs to choose is word carefully.

                • Chris

                  You’re right, Jeter doesn’t say that, but Mo does.

                  Just to be clear, he never said he doesn’t care. In fact, he said he was disappointed. He also said he felt he pitched well and got some bad breaks.

                  Finally, he’s a baseball player, not a politician. He doesn’t need to be well spoken or articulate. People are mad at him because he didn’t pitch well (which is understandable) but they use his comments as a convenient excuse to bash him.

                • Drew

                  He said he wasn’t too upset and was already over it. 10 minutes after the game.

        • mustang

          “What was it, a bunch of singles and three doubles or so?” he said, and there were a lot more similar quotes sprinkled throughout his postgame interview.

          To be fair that’s from the same Angels game post interviews, but it was IPK best line.

      • Spaceman.Spiff

        I think it’s good that he was looking to move on after a loss where he got pretty unlucky. He was locating his pitches but a lot of the balls were finding the open spots in the defense. I’d much rather he move on mentally than worry too much about things he couldn’t really control. Sometimes Yankee fans make mountains out of molehills.

  • mustang

    The best thing it’s that there being brought along slowly without all that ridiculous hype from last year that should help them greatly.
    They are the best insurance policies the Yankees have had in years.

    • Since_77

      Ture, but the bottom line is that these guys need to produce in MLB. The Twins lost Johan Santana and they came up with Perkins, Slowey and Baker from their farm system. All these young guys won 11 or more games.

      Hughes need to be what he showed the stuff like when he won game 3 of the 07 ALDS aganist Cleveland. He’s got the talent, we need to see the numbers in MLB.

      • mustang

        Agree

      • mustang

        Someone here made a very interesting augment once comparing Perkins, Slowey and Baker pitch counts to that of Hughes and IPK. Basically the person was trying to say that the Yankees rushed kids and didn’t give them enough Minor league innings.

  • http://www.bronxbaseballdaily.com Rob Abruzzese

    Considering Hughes seems like the 6th starter on this team and they will limit Joba’s innings I’m not concerned about his position on this team. Kennedy however is different. Best case for him is that something happens to open a spot, he takes it and pitches well. Worst case, he stays in triple-A all season and tears it up and raises interest in him so he can be part of a big deadline deal.

    I guess the real worst case is he could bomb in triple-A, or worse, in the majors. But this is how I see it happening realistically.

    • http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/group.php?gid=43434432275 Ace

      He’s been pretty consistent in his domination at AAA. I really don’t know how much he can raise his value by pitching well down there. He needs a few big league W’s.

    • Drew

      I think aceves giese and robertson are the 6th man.

      • K.B.D.

        David Robertson? As in the reliever?

  • Lanny

    Kennedy should keep his mouth shut and focus on dominating AAA.

    I’d still be surprised if we ever see him start a meaningfull game in a Yankee uni.

  • Rob in CT

    IPK’s supposed attitude problem never really bothered me. I figured he’d learned his lesson from Crash Davis (you stay cocky and arrogant, even when you’re getting beat!).

    I care about results (and the potential future results). The results haven’t been good, and there is reason to wonder whether his “stuff” doesn’t translate very well in the majors, particularly the AL. I’d still rather watch him learn (or not) than, say, Sidney Ponson. Hopefuly, this year there won’t be any need for such measures.

  • http://www.amazon.com/Greatness-Waiting-Illustrated-History-1903-1919/dp/078643211X/ref=sr_1_1/102-9585586-0514509?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1185023375&sr=8-1 Elston32

    Good points made above. I get a real kick out of Cashman. After starting the 2008 season with Hughes and Kennedy as the 4th and 5th starters we see the Yanks go into the 2009 season hoping that either Joba, Hughes, Kennedy and/or Aceves can nail down the 5th spot in the rotation. The re-build from within philosophy (that supposedly began @ 2005?) is only a good strategy if you have the players to re-build from within with (poor sentence structure but you get the idea).

    It would be great to see at least one of the Yanks’ young pitchers follow in the footsteps of Chien-Ming Wang but right now they’re still praying for the next Eric Milton.

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