Jun
30

A tale of two pitchers

By

On April 26, 2007, the Yankees found themselves without a starting pitcher, and so a few months — or possibly a year — ahead of schedule, they handed the ball over to a 20-year-old right-hander named Phil Hughes. A few months later, on August 7, 2007, they again found themselves short a pitcher. This time, the team needed a reliever, and they found one in a young flamethrowing starter nearing his innings limit named Joba Chamberlain.

Over the course of the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Joba’s and Phil’s paths diverged. Almost immediately, Joba established himself as someone who could thrive in a high-pressure situation on the big stage. The brash kid from Nebraska emerged as a dominant set-up man, faltering only when a swarm of bugs attacked him. When the Yanks, amidst much criticism, moved him back to his natural spot in the starting rotation, he still thrived. Armed with the confidence he built up in the pen, he has emerged, at 23, as a kid on the way to Major League stardom.

Hughes, on the other hand, saw his fortunes follow a different path. His first start was nothing spectacular, and he couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning against the Blue Jays. Five days later though, he was dealing. Through 6.1 innings, he was no-hitting the Rangers in Texas when his hamstring popped.

For much of the next 18 months, Hughes would deal with the fallout from this injury. He came back by the end of the year but seemed tentative on the mound. He didn’t want to land too hard on his front leg or overstride again. In 2008, given a spot in the starting rotation, he couldn’t hold it. He went 0-4 and landed on the DL for much of the year with a mechanics-induced stress fracture in one of his ribs.

While he was still just 22 when the 2008 season ended, scouts and talent evaluators wondered if Hughes was destined to be a — I shudder to type it — bust. He was 5-7 with a 5.15 ERA in 21 starts spanning 106.1 innings. He wasn’t giving the team depth or getting outs.

When the Yanks called upon Hughes this year, the results looked disappointingly similar to his 2008 effort at first. He got shelled in Baltimore, and Yankee fans were wondering what the hype was about. But Hughes took his bad outing in stride. In four starts after it, before ceding his spot to Chien-Ming Wang, he went 2-0 with a 3.91 ERA in 23 innings. Even better were his 23 strike outs and seven walks over that span. This was the first sign of the Hughes we had expected.

When Wang returned, the Yankees pulled a reverse Joba on Hughes. They knew he could contribute at the Major League level, and they knew they would need someone to step in if or when Wang proved to be ineffective. Phil Hughes in the pen though has been a revelation. He has thrown 12 innings with a 1.50 ERA. He has given up just two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out 15. He has flashed that mid-to-upper 90s fastball we had heard about but never seen before. He was throwing with renewed confidence and ability, and he is not shy about admitting it.

Of course, as New York is the unnecessary debate capital of the world, the voices grew loud. “Let’s keep Phil Hughes in the pen,” they screamed. “He can be the bridge to Mariano.” The Yankees would have none of it. As Bryan Hoch noted in his Monday mailbag, the Yanks have tried to shut down this faux-debate before it grows too loud. “Anybody who is a good starter is going to be a hell of a setup guy, I promise you. Anybody who has a plus fastball and a plus secondary pitch would make a great setup guy or closer, in theory. But it’s not the same,” Brian Cashman said. It’s not the same because starting pitching is far more valuable than relief pitching.

Young pitchers can be certainly be used effectively in the pen. Joba was able to contribute at the big league level while facing an innings cap in 2007. He got to know the competition and Major League life. For Phil, the pen has restored his spot atop the Yankee pitching prospect pecking order. He struggled in the early going, as young 20-somethings are wont to do, but he has learned this year that he can succeed as a starter and let loose as a reliever. As baseball psychology goes, this move has worked wonders so far for a pitcher on whom the Yankees are counting in the near future.

That is what it’s about. The Yanks are no B-Jobbers or B-Hughesers, pushing for a permanent move to the pen. Rather, there is a team with a plan learning how, after years of producing nothing out of the farm, to develop a young pitcher who has mastered the minors but not yet gotten a handle on the majors. While 12 innings is of course a small sample, we are watching Phil Hughes arrive, and it looks good.

Categories : Pitching

143 Comments»

  1. Mister Delaware says:

    Sooo … you’re saying move both to the pen? In!

  2. pat says:

    I guess we learned that there is no one right way to break kids into the bigs. Some can walk right in, some need to take baby steps. It’s all good though, woop woop.

  3. Tubby says:

    I prefer B-Huggers, kinda like tree huggers.

  4. jim p says:

    So, how’s he get the innings this year to be a starter for all of next year, if he’s not starting here or in the minors this year?

    • The season isn’t over yet. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Phil Hughes, the starter.

      • K.B.D. says:

        AJ is still due for a minor injury that hangs around for the rest of the year and makes him miss a couple of starts.

        • Mike Pop says:

          No! A.J. has learned how to take care of himself…

          • BklynJT says:

            I agree. I’m not looking forward to an injury as a means for Hughes to get his innings. When is the last moment they can wait before they have to move Hughes back to AAA.

            • I’d say the ASB at the latest. If Phil Hughes is still in the bullpen by the trading deadline, it’s probably impossible for him to make it to his innings goals.

              • BklynJT says:

                Hughes is at 65.2 innings so far this year. Assuming he can get 30 innings in winter ball, that’s 95.2 innings, meaning we need to fill in approximately 80 innings between now and the end of the season (plus playoffs if we make it) to get to ~180.

                Joba has thrown 76 innings to date, which means he should have 80-90 innings in the first half of the season.

                So by my math, you are right, Hughes needs to be starting by the resumption of baseball following the all star break.

                • JP says:

                  I thought someone said Hughes isn’t eligible for winter ball this year.

                  Whether Hughes should stay with the Yankees and “screw the cap” or go to SWB to get his work in has been debated here quite a bit.

                  Rather than rehash it, I’ll ask what people think the Yankees are thinking. Does anyone think the Yankees have made a definite decision on whether to keep Hughes with the MLB club all season?

      • Ace says:

        But you have to admit that at the current pace there is no way he is even coming close to 180 innings. That has to be a concern.

  5. BklynJT says:

    The question begs to be asked… if they value Hughes as a starting pitcher, when in the world are they going to get him his innings?!?!? Times a runnin’ out. Maybe they are depending on using winter ball to get some extra innings at the end of the season?

    • ChrisS says:

      Patience, grasshopper. The Yankees are wise, and Mr. Cashman is the wisest.

      Hughes is not eligible for winter ball, I don’t think.

      • A.D. says:

        He can play winter ball in south america.

        • /guest'd says:

          you definitely dont want hughes playing winter ball. dude would get kidnapped. stay far away from venezuela dude. from a competitive standpoint, hughes wouldn’t be pressed.

          • A.D. says:

            Its from an innings standpoint, and he would get innings.

          • http://www.instantrimshot.com

            Seriously, though, the disadvantage of pitching Hughes less during the season and planning on sending him to PR or Venezuela or something to catch up is that we’d have no control over his winter ball outings. It’s not our coaching staff or trainers or anything. We don’t monitor and control his pitchcount or abuse points or any of that jazz. We can’t have him work on specific things. We can’t tell him “Hey, why don’t you take today’s start and experiment with your cutter all game long, we don’t give a crap what the results are”.

            • Zach says:

              Why cant they give him instructions before games? I think he has some device called a cellphone or laptop.

              Find it hard to believe the coaches down in PR would leave him in for 120+ pitches, that would ruin their reputation with ballclubs

            • BklynJT says:

              To be fair, he won’t be working on his stuff during a regular season game either. The main goal for putting Hughes in winter ball would be to add more innings. They did it last year and I don’t think there were issues with overusage from the coaches, since they work closely with the MLB teams.

              • BklynJT says:

                Based on your reply below, I may have been confusing winter league ball and fall/hawaiian league ball. If that’s the case, i feel less comfortable with sending hughes to Winter league.

      • BklynJT says:

        Didn’t Abreu play winter ball? Didn’t know there was an eligibility issue

        • Yeah. I misspoke on this a couple of times when I said Hughes was ineligible for winterball.

          Hughes is ineligible for the FALL leagues. He can’t play in the Arizona Fall League or the Hawaiian League (which is now the Florida League).

          He can go play in any of the Latin American winter leagues, though. There’s no restriction to those, anybody can play.

    • JP says:

      The question begs to be asked… if they value Hughes as a starting pitcher, when in the world are they going to get him his innings?!?!? Times a runnin’ out. Maybe they are depending on using winter ball to get some extra innings at the end of the season?

      I sense urgency in your post…

      First, remember that even if he doesn’t get the 180 innings this season, he’s still eligible to pitch 180 innings next season. Only about 2% of #4 starters and 6% of #3 starters ever pitch more than 180 innings in a season, and of those, half don’t even go above 190.

      Second, Hughes turns 24 on June 24, 2010. Theoretically, the Verducci rule applies to pitchers under the age of 24. Whether this is sailing too close to the shore to be safe I don’t know, but that’s what the rule sez.

      Anyway, I don’t think there will be any catastrophic consequences next season if Hughes doesn’t pitch 180 innings this season.

      • Second, Hughes turns 24 on June 24, 2010. Theoretically, the Verducci rule applies to pitchers under the age of 24. Whether this is sailing too close to the shore to be safe I don’t know, but that’s what the rule sez.

        The Verducci rule applies to pitchers 25 and under, not pitchers 23 and under.

        /pedantic nitpick of a theory you already think is too full of pedantic nitpicks’d

        • JP says:

          /pedantic nitpick of a theory you already think is too full of pedantic nitpicks’d

          Hearty laughter.

          Ok, if we’re picking nits, I have one: Wouldn’t 24 and under be correct, not 25 and under? From the Baseball Prospectus Glossary:

          Verducci, who called this the ‘Year After Effect,’ found that pitchers under the age of 25 who have 30-inning increases year over year tend to underperform. Will Carroll independently found that pitchers who break the “Rule of 30″ tend to get injured.

          http://www.baseballprospectus......cci+effect

          • From the horses mouth itself (emphasis mine):

            Pitchers generally feel the effects of abusive increases in workload the next year, not the season in which they were pushed. In other words, you might be able to finish that marathon for which you didn’t properly train, but your body will have hell to pay for it. I call it the Year After Effect.

            Here’s the way I track it: Find major league pitchers 25-AND-under who broke the 30-inning rule.

            http://sportsillustrated.cnn.c.....ducci.YAE/

            • JP says:

              Thank you, counselor.

            • JP says:

              Let me ask you a question, oh Oracle of Baseball Reason:

              If a pitcher has a season where his workload has increased significantly over any previous year’s, what would you say the chances are that he had a pretty good season?

              I’d say the chances are bery good that the pitcher had a good year, for him anyway. One way to get more innings is to pitch better, because managers don’t pull pitchers out of games early if they are pitching well.

              So if there were a correlation between increased workload and success in the same season, isn’t it highly likely, just from a variance standpoint, that the pitcher will “underperform” the next season?

              Maybe Verducci’s effect – at least as it pertains to ‘underperformance,’ not injury – is a statistical anomaly related to biased sampling.

              • Okay. Sure, fine, I concede your point. If things were different, they wouldn’t be the same.

                • JP says:

                  But you’re dodging the question. Isn’t it possible that the Verducci effect – the part about underperforming – is an example of sampling bias? I see no evidence in anything I’ve read that Verducci has scrutinized his research for this sort of bias. All I can see is he collects data on people who break the rule. The other thing I haven’t seen, is any determination of the denominator? If the theory is correct, underperformance should be to a greater extent than just random variance. So you have to compare pitchers who are overworked not just with themselves, but with comparable pitchers who were not overworked.

                  Just academic wanking, that’s all. Peace and love and all that, tsjc.

                • I’m not dodging the question. I’m ignoring you changing the question.

                  I’m interested in the Verducci rule to prevent Joba and Hughes getting injured by overtaxing themselves. I’m not interested in the other part of the Verducci rule about pitchers underperforming.

                  The rest of the board probably isn’t either, which is why they’re not responding. But, far be it from me to speak on their behalf. I’m bowing out of that discussion because it bores me.

                  Have at it.

  6. Ace says:

    I’m surprised you are not advocating a move for Hughes to AAA to stretch out his innings. Shouldn’t the same rules applied to Joba apply to Hughes?

    • I’m not advocating a move to AAA for a few reasons.

      Right now, I’m willing to give the Yanks the benefit of the doubt on the innings limit. They know a lot more about their own plans than any of us do, and they haven’t been willing to, for obvious reasons, share it with the press.

      Second, if Phil Hughes can contribute on the Major League level, he’s more valuable to the Yanks doing that than he would be starting and dominating at AAA. As long as he gets his innings in the end, I’m ok with it.

      • Zach says:

        Exactly, just because the Yankees dont publish their plan in the paper for everyone to see doesnt mean they dont have a plan

      • Am I the only Kevin? says:

        All you need is one ankle tweak after the all-star break and he will not make his innings.

        • Zach says:

          so they should have kept him as a starter all year to reach in innings limit in August to protect against injury?

          • jsbrendog says:

            they should have done with him what they did with joba. keep him as a starter til he is close to his innings limit whether in aaa or ml and then put him in the bullpen when he is close to get the last of his innings at ml level and help the team while also reachig his ceiling and being uncapped nxt yr.

            • Zach says:

              and with that you lose your protection for an ineffective Wang, broken down Andy, or injury to AJ come Aug-Oct

              Each choice has its pros and cons, thats why theres no right/wrong decision

              • jsbrendog says:

                you dont lose any protection. if one of them goes down hughes is a phone call away. and if you have to burn out the bullpen for one game whatever. you have albie/edwar/melancon/among others all ready to come up for a few days if necessary

            • JP says:

              Hughes and Joba have both been very effective this season. It would be nice to have at least one of them under their cap so that they can contribute in the playoffs.

              • And one month of Hughes in the bullpen has accomplished that goal: Hughes can now reach his goal of 180 IP by starting games for the last three months of the season AND October.

                If he keeps pitching in the pen, though, he can start games in October but not also meet his goal. Returning him to starting now allows him to accomplish both objectives.

                He goes to Scranton and starts in the minors for July and August, and continues refining his pitches and command. He comes back and starts games for us in the bigs in September, and he’ll have just enough innings left under his cap to either start or relieve in October.

                Two birds, one stone.

      • Mike bk says:

        this is a shortsided view ben that says games this year are more important than developing a top starter to help this team for the next 10 years hopefully. this is exactly what you fought against last year when it came to Joba.

    • Stryker says:

      should the same rules applied to Joba apply to Hughes?

      simply put – no. their situations are entirely different. if you’ll remember joba was brought up in 2007 after being close to reaching his innings limit in the minor leagues. the “rules” were put in place to 1) help ease him into the majors and 2) reduce the workload on his arm.

      hughes currently has 153 IP in the majors to joba’s 200 — but remember phil has spent significant time on the DL in 2 consecutive years. they’ve remedied that by sending phil to the arizona fall league where he pretty much thrived. i don’t think they need to give him any special treatment. he’s put in his time in the minors and elsewhere and i’m glad they’re keeping him in the majors. he’ll get his innings somehow – with the season not even half over yet, i don’t think the yankees want to or are going to mess that up. phil is too valuable to the team now and going forward.

      • Ace says:

        I’m not talking about the “Joba Rules” from 2007. I’m talking about increasing a starting pitchers innings every year to stretch him out and allow him to pitch without any restrictions. At the rate Hughes is pitching at now, and barring any injury, he will not even come close to reaching the amount of innings he will need to start a full year next year with no restrictions.

        • Chris V. says:

          Ace, I think you are not completely understanding the verducci rules. Joba and Phil are not the same. Phil has thrown 140 innings before, so his limit is 180 this year and if he doesn’t pitch more than 140 innings this year his limit will still be 180 innings next year. Not many pitchers throw over 180 innings in a year in the majors, so even if Phil only gets 100 innings this year, he still should be fine for next season. Plus he’s getting old enough where the verducci rule doesnt even apply.

          I think the Yankees know what they are doing here.

  7. gc says:

    A fine post, and I agree that it’s nice to see glimpses of a future most fans have been clamoring for when the answers to the teams problems come from within and not by overspending on the FA market.

    One nitpick, though…it would have been nice to mention that Hughes did pitch well in the 2007 post season, getting the win against Cleveland in Game 3 (in relief) for the team’s only win in that series.

  8. A.D. says:

    I too am worried about Hughes’s innings, however the nature that the Yankees pay attention & follow the innings bumps, means that they should be very aware of Hughes current innings and how many he needs this season, just as they were last year with Joba.

    • Stryker says:

      the thing i have a problem with is — and this goes for all major league teams that subscribe to innings limits — the fact that innings are not equal. they take the minimum of 3 pitches and a maximum of who knows how many. so while teams may say they only want so-and-so to pitch 6 innings in a game, maybe 2 or 3 of those innings could be considered efficient. an innings limit doesn’t take into account the quality of the pitcher’s pitches or if he struggled or overthrew or whatever the case may be. i mean, i guess the system works and you can take all of that into account in the long run (bump up the # of innings in the long run if the guy’s been efficient and so on). conversely, pitch limits are kinda dumb for the same reasons, i guess.

      there’s no optimal way to go about breaking a kid into the majors so i guess the innings limit is the way to go.

  9. One result of Hughes’ move to the pen that I find interesting is that I think it has actually quieted some of the B-Jobbers because now the effect of confirmation bias is more clear to them. They see Hughes succeeding in the bullpen but remember, because Hughes came up as a starter and has never been argued over like Joba (i.e. I don’t think most B-Jobbers ever considered Hughes as a pen option), that part of their argument about Joba was that he was somehow different and not, in his DNA or something, a “starting pitcher,” while guys like Pettitte and Hughes clearly were. I think now a lot of them are probably saying to themselves “oh, heh, now Hughes looks like a reliever too… I guess this is the same thing that happened with Joba.” I think a lot of them really thought there was something special/different about Joba and that it wasn’t necessarily true that good starters would also make good relievers just because, you know, they’re the best pitchers on the team, but seeing the same thing happening with Hughes is punching a huge hole in that argument.

    • Mike Pop says:

      It was all part of Cashman’s evil scheme to get the B-Jobbers to quiet down.

    • gc says:

      You mean “starting pitchah!” :)

    • My Pet Goat says:

      Like good ostriches, B-Jobbers have new piles of sand to cram their heads into, most notably the pile in Kate Hudson’s pants.

    • Just thought of another angle that supports what I wrote in my comment, above… Hughes’ 2009 season also quiets the B-Jobbers because they see how it is much more possibly/likely that a team can find a good, even shut-down bullpen option than a good/shut-down starting pitcher. Relievers are notoriously volatile, but that volatility is not only a negative but also a positive in that you can find guys who are having good seasons either already in your own bullpen (guys who are there and who just happen to be unexpectedly improved), in the minors, on the waiver wire, in trades, etc. All of a sudden Joba doesn’t look like such a unique, irreplaceable bullpen piece to the B-Jobbers, and the bitching and moaning about wanting Joba in the pen continue to get softer.

      • JP says:

        Judging from the “thought” process of the typical “Joba to the bullpen” post, I be really surprised if anyone was swayed by anything as logical as your explanation, Congressman. I think it’s more likely that they’re tired of getting bludgeoned here and have taken their act elsewhere, where there’s a better chance of finding like-minded thinkers.

        But it’s a good explanation.

        • I don’t think I’m going to sway anyone, and I’d even go so far as to say I’d be surprised if any B-Jobbers would even admit that anything I said has some truth to it, but that’s not the point. The point is just that those things are happening, and the proof is in the pudding – the volume has been turned WAY down on the B-Jobber debate. Whether they understand/acknowledge it or not, those things are affecting their thought-process.

  10. My Pet Goat says:

    You can just have Kennedy shadow all of Phranchise’s starts next year… Are those crickets I’m hearing?

  11. YankeeScribe says:

    The biggest difference I’ve noticed between Hughes the starter and Hughes the reliever(besides velocity) is efficiency. As a starter, Hughes always seemed to have trouble putting away hitters after strike 2.

    As a reliver, he looks overpowering and doesn’t seem to need as many pitches per atbat. Hopefully, he brings the overpowering stuff with him the next time he gets a chance to start…

    • BklynJT says:

      Hmmm, that was always an issue I had with Hughes as a starter, that he has resolved as a reliever. Isn’t one of the most frustrating things for a pitcher is to give up those 0-2, 1-2 base hits.

      • Mike Pop says:

        Why is it so much different?

        Is it just he has better stuff, throwing with more effort out of the pen, or just more confidence…

        A combo of the three?

        • YankeeScribe says:

          I think it’s a combination of factors. He’s looked more confident all season but his struggling to finish hitters off after 2 strikes contiued through most of his starts this year.

        • JP says:

          Several possibilities I can think of:

          1. His stuff has just improved. He threw at 90-91 for much of his innings in ’08, but my memory of this guy was that he was a mid-90s pitcher. Maybe all the nagging injuries have finally resolved and he’s feeling well enough to let loose.

          2. Confidence. I like that. It’s a tough sell because you can’t put a number on it, but it matters big time and for a young ballplayer, huge differences can manifest as they build confidence and maturity.

          3. Variance…as someone has been posting alot lately, maybe it’s just because there is a natural variance to results and sometimes there’s no good explanation. He’s having success now because, well, sometimes your stuff gets hit and sometimes it doesn’t, and lately it’s been “doesn’t.”

          Put me down for your combo idea.

  12. gxpanos says:

    Dont get me wrong, I love Hughes and I like the cutter, as it’s getting better and better.

    But do we know why he scrapped the slider? Wasnt it on its way to being a plus pitch when we heard about it in ’04?

    • pat says:

      I want to say he scrapped it because they changed his arm angle. I’m not completely sure, but I think they took him from a 3/4 arm angle to something more over the top. I beleive the slider loses movement when it’s thrown from over the top. I could be very wrong though….

  13. Mike HC says:

    It also helped when Hughes went from throwing in the high 80′s in previous years, to mid 90′s this year, even as a starter.

  14. matthaggs says:

    I say screw the innings limits (meaning him being under, not over) and worry about that next year.

    Based on the risky assumption that Wang is on the road back and Pettitte hangs in there as the #5, until they find someone reliable to replace Hughes in the bullpen they have to leave him there.

    If Wang is right, they’ll have four legit starters next year with no innings caps. Hughes could be the fifth guy next year and slowly work up his innings total. What’s the big hurry?

    This season has all the makings of a wild race to make it into the playoffs. If Hughes is blanking Toledo while some sucker reliever is giving up leads, I don’t see how that is in the Yankees best interest. He is one of their best pitchers. He needs to be up here getting outs all season long.

    • Mike Pop says:

      I think even when Joba hits his innings this year, he will still be on an innings cap for next year.

      If so, that would be only 3 pitchers with no caps for your plan. This could be a problem, and this is why Hughes needs to get those innings now. However they do it, as long as it isn’t more risk to injury, I’m okay with. But those innings = very important. imo.

    • jsbrendog says:

      \fail

      if everything goes right they will have 3 starters not on innings caps, cc, aj, wang.

      joba will be capped at 180 next year. and if hughes doesnt get there this year he will be limited as well.

      • BklynJT says:

        Unless Joba starts averaging more than 6 innings a start, 180 might be enough. =)

      • matthaggs says:

        180 is a pretty high cap, no?

        What’s Joba’s cap this year? Whatever it is this year as long as he’s healthy (knock wood) he’ll go over it no under it, and if he does go over it by say 20 innings, does that raise his cap for next year?

        • jsbrendog says:

          i blieve his cap is 150 and he wont go too much over that io would guess. 20 ip over that is basically throwing any reason for a cap right out the window.

          • matthaggs says:

            So what isn’t throwing a cap out the window? 10 innings over? I’m not trying to be a smart ass. If the cap is 150 you have to believe the Yankees have a “150 is ideal but definitely not above this many innings” number tucked away somewhere.

            Right?

            • jsbrendog says:

              yeah, i mean, im no expert and my opinion is as worthless as eveyrone elses, but I’d say 10 over is about as many as you’d really want to go over if you’re trying to adhere to it strictly. its based on 30 innings increments so anything mroe than that and it is getting into the why bother territory….

      • JP says:

        Even if Hughes reaches his 180 this year, wouldn’t the rule still cap him at 210 next year? He’s still under the age limit.

        How many starters pitch more than 200 innings? Very few.

        If you believe Hughes is helping the team alot now, and that he is functioning as a safety valve for the Wang situation, there’s plenty of reason to keep him right where he is.

        What you’re giving up is, at most 4 starts next season. Four starts. And that’s presuming everything goes great, he doesn’t miss any starts from injury next year, etc.

        When he’s doing so well helping the MLB club now, I just don’t see why everyone is so worried about 20-30 innings next season.

    • Zach says:

      so what’s Phil’s role in the bullpen right now? 1 inning to keep sharp 2-3 days before Wang’s start then 2-3 innings after Wang’s start. his “role” isnt hte 7th or 8th lockdown guy, Dan Giese was Hughes of last year backing up Joba

      • jsbrendog says:

        except dan geise’s talent level is like 1/8 hughes. which makes it crazy that this is hughes role currently in my eyes

      • matthaggs says:

        His role is to come into games and get people out. And he’s been exceptional in that role. If Wang rights himself, he will start to be used later in games I think, like he was against the Mets Sunday night.

        If you think the Yankees have a surplus of these guys available somewhere, I’m not sure what team you’ve all been watching.

        They have Rivera. Every single other guy out there doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence. Sorry but Bruney has a bit to go before he can truly be counted on. Too many walks in big spots.

        Robertson has the stuff, but has been dodgy in high leverage situations. Hopefully he or Melancon will be the guy they’re missing and Hughes can go dominate AAA hitters until a rotation spot opens. Or maybe Damaso “playing catch” Marte will come back. But if Hughes goes they are missing a guy. I mean we can all see that right?

        • Zach says:

          Again, Hughes is not pitching the 7th or 8th inning and picking up ‘holds’ or whatever. If he was then you’d have an argument but right now he’s a caddy for Wang, not a big piece to the puzzle.

          • matthaggs says:

            Wang reached the 6th inning for the first time this season on Sunday night.

            Hughes finished off the 6th (relieving Coke) and pitched the 7th in a one run game. He also entered the game with a man on base, which hasn’t happen very often.

            Everything depends on Wang straightening himself out. If he does, I think you’ll see more of Hughes in a situation like the one above.

        • whozat says:

          It’s for the long-term good of the team, and the downgrade is not so big from Hughes to Bruney/Robertson/Melancon that I’m willing to take Hughes out of the 2010 rotation.

      • Billy says:

        i think they’re trying to protect him from high leverage situations for now. they might think if he falters in that situation it might get into his head. that could change though. lately he’s been in more pressure situations.

        • Zach says:

          More pressing situations= 1.1 innings after Wang on Sunday night. 2 innings in Atlanta while they were losing, 1 inning in Florida while they were losing, 2 innings against Nationals in which they were losing.

  15. Billy says:

    we should trade wang to the phils and put hughes in the rotation

    • Mike Pop says:

      Yep, we should just trade him for J.A. Happ.

    • Billy says:

      the yanks should at least inquire about what the phils will give up in return

      • Mike Pop says:

        Well, I think Wang is a key part of the rotation for 2010. Most likely, Andy will be gone. I mean, yeah, if Phils are willing to give up the type of talent it would have taken for the 2007 Wang I’d be all for it. Because, that is a nice little haul most likely. But, I don’t think that is the case.

        • whozat says:

          Yeah. The Phils would be dumb to pay that, and the Yanks would be dumb to take anything less than that, so it’s a non-starter.

      • the yanks should at least inquire about what the phils will give up in return

        We should. And when they say “We’ll give you Greg Dobbs, Gustavo Chacin, and Mike Zagurski” we can hang up.

        • jsbrendog says:

          and then call back and pretend to be the seattle gm and mess with amarro.

          cashman pretending to be M’s gm: “hey, you know, im new at this but i’m no clown. I’ll trade you bedard for madsen.”

          amarro: :stunned silence:

          cash: “ok, you drive a hard bargain. bedard for coste and 100 bucks”

          amarro: deal.

          cash: HA! fat chance! suck it amarro!

          annnnnd scene

        • Crab Dribble Ointment says:

          Man, what happened to Chacin? He was supposed to be the next big thing.

    • Yeah, let’s trade an important piece at its absolute lowest point.

      • jsbrendog says:

        but what it seems they are saying is see just what theyll give up. and if the phils are willin to pay for a perrenial 19 game winner then his value is not low.

        his value is only as low as what other teams would be willing to give up. if a team offers a package worthy of a pitcher who won 38 games in 2 years right now then you take it because based on that offer his value has not diminished.

        now obv this wont happen, but value is relative. i agree they should not deal him now because his perceived value is low. but there are stupid and desperate gms out there and in the end value is only based on what is offered. plus, it never hurts to ask.

        • That’s a fair enough point and I do agree with part of it. Another problem that presents itself, though, is that I don’t think the Phillies have the proper pieces to give up for the 19W version of Wang.

  16. Jackson says:

    I just wish that if they’re going to keep Hughes in the bullpen they would be a little more liberal in their usage of him. If they are going to hold him back to make sure he’s available when Wang starts why not just have him throw three innings and finish those games?

  17. Charlie says:

    Cool article, sheds some light on why hughes is in the pen. I’m still worried about him not reaching his innings limit though, so doesn’t he have to start soon (either in the bigs or AAA)??

  18. Andy says:

    What is great about Hughes success is that it demonstrates that what Joba did in the pen wasn’t so special, that it is possible to find someone other than Joba to rule the all important 8th. I wonder what Francesca is saying now, if he thinks Hughes should be the 8th inning guy. At some point people have to realize being a reliever is easier than being a starter.

    In fact, I know it is sacreligious to say here, but Mo is in some ways the most overrated player on the Yankees. Everyone says he was the most important player on the Yankees dynasty, but he only pitched a total of 312 innings during the four championship regular seasons – a season and a half for a starter. In fact, Andy Pettitte pitched 832 innings over that span, almost three times as many innings. Call me crazy, but as a matter of simple logic, performance aside, 832 innings of pitching is much more important than 312. Unless runs in the 9th count more than runs in the 1st or 2nd or 3rd or 4th or 5th or 6th or 7th or 8th. Not saying Mo wasn’t important, but with his 500th there is so much hyperbole about his importance, thought I’d take the thrashing to point that out…

    • BklynJT says:

      Though you may have a point, Mo will smite you for besmerching his good name. Unfortunately, Mo did not have the stuff to be a starter. What’s amazing is his ability to do it all with 1 pitch, a pitch that everyone knew was coming, but couldn’t do a damn thing about.

    • Zach says:

      A-HUGHES IS A STARTING PITCHAAAH!!1!!\
      B-My eyes dont see Hughes in the pen, thats where Joba belongs
      C-He isnt electrifying like Joba is in the pen
      D-Wang, Hughes, Joba for 2 rotation spots and 8th inning. Wang & Hughes in rotation, Joba in bullpen

      Pick one and thats the response you’ll get from Francesa

  19. JGS says:

    I think I agree with David Cone on this one–let Hughes contribute in any way he can here. putting him in the pen for a while isn’t going to slow down his development

    Santana, Halladay, heck even Nolan Ryan in his Mets days–all spent significant time in the pen before becoming successful starters

  20. MikeD says:

    Mike at WFAN will bloviate that Hughes has already failed as a starter and should remain in the pen, along with Joba, who hasn’t failed as a starter, but clearly is destined to be an 8th-inning set-up man. In fact, he’s declared that all good Yankee pitching prospects should only pitch out of the pen, while the starting rotation can be patched together with the likes of the Aaron Small’s and the Rasner’s of the world.

  21. AlexNYC says:

    My father is a B-Jobber (well I don’t know right now) and he wants Hughes in the rotation. He is also a B-Wanger.

    Goes to show what he knows……

  22. [...] the composition of the bench / A tale of two pitchers / Kings of [...]

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