Mar
02

Why sending Hughes to the minors is a waste

By

One of the ongoing themes of Spring Training has been Phil Hughes and the possibility of being sent to the minors in 2010 to pile up innings. In his Chan Ho Park post earlier this morning, Ben wrote about just that, so allow me to excerpt…

For the Yanks, the best AAA candidate would seem to be Phil Hughes. He has an innings limit and should be working as a starter for as long as he can this year. If that means starting the year at AAA and being the first arm called up, that’s a risk I’d be willing to take. The Yanks could send Aceves down and keep Hughes in the 8th inning role, but this move reeks of short-term planning at the expense of long-term success. Last year, the Yanks’ pitchers enjoyed unexpected health. Can we expect them to do it again this year?

No, we can’t expect them to do it again this year, however keeping Hughes in the bullpen to start the year isn’t just a short-term move. If a starter were to go down, there’s Chad Gaudin, or Al Aceves, or Sergio Mitre, or Ivan Nova to fill in. There’s no shortage of candidates to make a spot start or three. However, if a starter were to go down for an extended period of time, well then you can stretch Hughes out to start. There’s no reason it can’t be done. Everyone’s all freaked out after Joba Chamberlain hurt his shoulder in 2008, but that’s one data point in a sea of them. There’s no evidence that moving back into the rotation caused Joba’s shoulder to bark. He’s a pitcher, it could have started acting up for a million reasons.

Just last year, we watched Bobby Parnell, Justin Masterson, J.A. Happ, and Scott Feldman start the season in the bullpen before moving to the rotation. Jonathan Sanchez, Carlos Zambrano, Johan Santana, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt … all those guys make the transition during the season as well. It can be done. Pretty easily too. But I digress.

There’s several reasons the Yanks shouldn’t send Hughes down to the minors. First off, he’s one of the seven or eight best pitchers in the organization, top to bottom, and the best big league ready arms should always good north when the club breaks camp. Secondly, the single most important thing a young pitcher must learn how to do is get big leaguers out. That’s it. If he can’t get Major League hitters out, then he’s hurting the team. If Hughes’ spends the season in Triple-A Scranton getting stretched out in advance of filling a rotation spot in 2011, then what do you have? You have a guy who can give you 170 innings next year, but may or may not know how to pitch out of jams and what not.

Sure, it sounds fine. He’d just be the fifth starter after all. Those guys aren’t crucial. But what’s the alternative? Hughes spends the season in the bullpen, at worst, and next year you’re looking at a guy who can give you say, 130-140 innings that will probably be a bit better because he’s more experienced. Hughes has nothing to learn in the minors, at all. He can throw 35 changeups a game, but big deal. Throwing changeups to in big league situations is different than throwing them to minor leaguers. And there’s no rule against throwing changeups out of the bullpen. He can still work on it.

Look, I want Phil Hughes to be a starter for the long haul as much as the next guy. I just think that the minimal gain you get towards his future innings limit is completely negated by missing out on all of that experience against big leaguers. We know Hughes can go through a lineup three times, he’s done it his entire life in the minors. All he’s going to do in Triple-A is spin his wheels. You don’t learn anything from carving guys up, you learn from making mistakes and getting smacked around a bit. Keeping Hughes in the Majors to start the year puts the best team on the field and is the best thing for his development.

Frankly, I’m kind of astonished I had to write this post. There’s a lot of dumb ideas tossed around in Spring Training because there’s nothing else to talk about, and this is the perfect example of that.

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

Categories : Rants

205 Comments»

  1. Bo says:

    Sending Hughes to Scranton is the dumbest idea of the spring. You don’t send one of your top pitchers down to get innings he can get here.

    There’d be a clubhouse revolt if that happened.

    • Templeton "Brendog" Peck says:

      i love how even when you make a point that could be valid you throw in some stupid bullshit like this that makes you look lie an idiot

      There’d be a clubhouse revolt if that happened.

      • Cecala says:

        I was thinking the same thing, Bo has no middle ground, it is either the best thing or the worst thing. He will obviously get more innings in AAA than in the bullpen. I don’t see how he will get the same amount like Bo said. Hughes might be a top pitcher but he is not a 1-5.

        Also that last sentence…What?

      • Assistant GM Jean Afterman: You’re not sending Phil Hughes north with the team? BUT THERE MIGHT BE A CLUBHOUSE REVOLT!!!
        Brian Cashman: No, there wouldn’t.
        Assistant GM Jean Afterman: Yeah, you’re right. I don’t know what I was thinking. Immediately after I said it, I was like “Why did I say that?” There’s a zero percent chance of a clubhouse revolt based on a big league team not immediately promoting a young player still in his option years from a minor league role to a major league role. That like literally has never ever happened.

        That was some horrendously stupid shit I just said. Man, what a moron I am.

        … aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, SCENE!

      • Accent Shallow says:

        I know it’s easy to mock Bo, but yes, there would likely be an effect on clubhouse morale if Hughes doesn’t go north with the team. We might even get some griping to the press the first time the bullpen blows a lead.

        Would it be the end of the world? No. But it could cause a bit of conflict.

      • Bo says:

        You really think this team of veterans would be happy if they sent down to AAA one of their best pitchers???

        You dont think Mariano would be livid? Jeter?

        Posada???

        You dont understand the clubhouse if you think they’d be happy with that plan

        • You don’t understand major league baseball if you think that the players’ unhappiness with that plan would be a reason not to enact that plan.

          The inmates do not run the asylum. Posada, Mariano, and Jeter are paid to play baseball for the Yankees. They’re not paid to construct the Yankees 25-man and 40-man rosters. If Cashman tells them that Hughes isn’t making the Opening Day roster, they may grumble for a little bit, but they’ll move the fuck on and get on with their business without bitching and moaning, because they’re professionals.

          Furthermore, they’re professionals who have all been in Hughes’s shoes before: stuck in the minors a little longer than they would like to be, because there’s no room on the big league club for them immediately.

          They’ll understand.

        • You really think this team of veterans would be happy if they sent down to AAA one of their best pitchers???

          No, they may not be happy with it. Do I give a shit? No.

          Does Cashman? No.

          Should anybody? No.

          • Bo says:

            Sorry to tell you that the highly paid veterans that play for the team do have a say in what goes on.

            And the fans outrage after Chad Gaudin blows back to back games out of the pen while Hughes toils in Scranton would be heard too.

            Because unfortunately for you Eric the teams goal isnt to develop a starter.

            it is to win titles.

            • A.) No they don’t.
              B.) Cashman literally does not give a single shit about what the fans think, nor should he. The fanbase is rife with unchecked ignorance. It’s never worth listening to.
              C and D.) Unfortunately for you, Robert Grant, the team’s goal is to BOTH win titles AND develop starters, simultaneously.

              • Bo says:

                Cashmans goal is one thing.

                Winning.

                He has secondary goals like developing talent but never at the expense of winning.

                How does someone proclaiming to be a NYY fan not realize that?

                • How does someone proclaiming to be a Yankees fan not realize that the club’s goal is not to win one championship in one year, but to win ten championships in ten years?

                  And that in order to win ten championships in ten years, you need to develop young players like Joba and Hughes to become rotation mainstays?

            • ROBTEN says:

              And the fans outrage after Chad Gaudin blows back to back games out of the pen while Hughes toils in Scranton would be heard too.

              Guess what, Gaudin might still blow a game even with Hughes in the pen because they don’t pitch at the same time.

              I am sure that the “fans” you speak of will be just fine with that.

        • Jack says:

          What makes you an expert on clubhouse relations? Have you ever played big league ball?

          • Bo says:

            It takes an expert on clubhouse culture to realize a team of veterans that want to win and expect to win would not be thrilled if one of their best pitchers was sent down to AAA to get innings for the future?

            Really?

        • Templeton "Brendog" Peck says:

          it still blows my mind you really believe all the stupid shit you spout

          You dont understand the clubhouse if you think they’d be happy with that plan

  2. Steve H says:

    This isn’t a shot at Jorge, but what about calling Hughes’ pitches from the bench? No shakeoffs from him or the catcher, and force him to throw all of his pitches against big league batters. If it’s a high leverage situation, let him go with what he’s comfortable with, but otherwise make sure he’s developing his other pitches so he is fully prepared when he transitions to the rotation.

    • rbizzler says:

      I think that seems like a good idea in principle, but I am not sure how it would work in practice. In all fairness to Hughes, you have to put him on the mound and let him do his thing. It would be awkward to treat his appearances like training sessions until he got into trouble and then he would have to shift his mentality.

      As Mike emphasized above, learning how to consistently get big league hitters out is where Phil is at in his development and I think that you stunt that growth if you demand he focus on a certain pitch (or pitches) while facing elite talent in games that count.

    • Am I the only Kevin? says:

      “If it’s a high leverage situation…”

      Huh? If he is in the bullpen, he is going to get first crack at the Bridge to Mo(TM) position. That being said, if he is having success, then he will likely pitch most of his innings in high leverage.

    • Bo says:

      What does calling pitches have to do with anything?

      How many rings does Posada need before this talk ends?

  3. Jonathan Sanchez, Carlos Zambrano, Johan Santana, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt

    Just saying, all except Halladay are 30 or somewhat younger, and of these, all are on the decline (except Sanchez, who has never been great to begin with).

  4. Frankly, I’m kind of astonished I had to write this post. There’s a lot of dumb ideas tossed around in Spring Training because there’s nothing else to talk about, and this is the perfect example of that.

    /sniffles

    So does this mean that mommy and daddy don’t love each other any more? What’s going to happen to our family?

    • Zack says:

      It’s not your fault, blame Eric and his movie quotes.

    • steve s says:

      I think that Mike’s post and attitude was a breath of fresh air for RAB which too often suffers from some serious groupthink (e.g. Mr. Cameron). Nice to see some serious point/counterpoint between the brass. Hope this is the beginning of a trend in that direction.

      • Templeton "Brendog" Peck says:

        as for the cameron point i don’t think it was groupthink.I think it was a good option and everyone saw that. and seriously, NO ONE was all about cameron once granderson went down but prior to that no one even wouldve expected for a second it wouldve.

        • steve s says:

          Well, when you use language like “everyone saw that” and “no one was all about cameron” that sort of goes to the essence of what groupthink is about.

          • Templeton "Brendog" Peck says:

            uhm no. so youre saying that everyone saw that cameron was a good option based on the yankees needs and his performance and role he can play, that is group think? making an educated deduction that is shared by others? your thinking is flawed.

            and as for no one was all aboutcameron, yeah well no shit. after trading for granderson no one in their right mind shouldve been “all aboutcameron” because granderson filled the need that cameron wouldve filled. i dont disagree that there might be examples of groupthink here at times but yours are flawed.

            • uhm no. so youre saying that everyone saw that cameron was a good option based on the yankees needs and his performance and role he can play, that is group think? making an educated deduction that is shared by others? your thinking is flawed.

              Marconi and Tesla both invented the radio, independently of one another, simultaneously.

              • Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

                Marconi plays the Mamba, listen to the radio.

                /Starship’d

              • ROBTEN says:

                Marconi: .– . / … …. — ..- .-.. -.. / .. -. …- . -. – / – …. . / .-. .- -.. .. — .-.-.-

                Tesla: .– …. .- – / .- / -… .-. .. .-.. .-.. .. .- -. – / .. -.. . .-

                Marconi: -.– . … –..– / .. – / .. … / .- .-.. — — … – / .- … / –. — — -.. / .- -. / .. -.. . .- / .- … / … .. –. -. .. -. –. / — .. -.- . / -.-. .- — . .-. — -.

                Tesla: .. / -.-. — -. -.-. ..- .-.

                … aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, SCENE!

                http://morsecode.scphillips.com/jtranslator.html

          • Zack says:

            Not everyone wanted Cameron, but Cameron was a very good option for what this team needed heading into FA. He was an upgrade in CF and for the right price many people wanted him.

            If someone brought up a valid reason to pass on Cameron for someone else then maybe so many people wouldnt want him, but people opposed him because he strikes out too much and because his AVG, but they failed to understand UZR, OBP and power over the years.

            • Templeton "Brendog" Peck says:

              and when granderson was obtained cameron became an afterthought because cameron filled that need, therefore the “no one wass all about cameron”

              not oh everyone else jumped off cameron’s bangwagon, i better get off too, it is lonely up here.

            • Bo says:

              Cameron was a terrible option for this team.

              Why pay him 8-10 when you can just have Gardner there for the min?

              The goal was to get younger and more versatile. That aint Cameron.

              The group think here is funny. If one of these 3 guys posts something you have the chorus saying its the greatest idea ever.

              Ie Reed Johnson, Cameron, Igawa as reliever, etc etc

  5. Hey ZZ says:

    What about the minimal gain you get from having Hughes in the bullpen for the first 2 months as compared to pushing his free agent clock back a year?

  6. Jake H says:

    I would like to see Hughes as a starter. Really the rotation could be down 2 guys after this year. Having Hughes being ready to fill one of those roles would be best. If he loses the 5th starter battle I would like to see the Yankees pitch Hughes for 2 innings at a time to gain innings.

  7. While I’m not a big fan of the idea, I can’t write it off as just a dumb idea tossed around during Spring Training. The real issue is getting Hughes innings and there’s only so many innings one can throw from the bullpen (especially if the Yankees plan to take 12 pitchers out of camp and keep each of them relatively fresh).

    The Yankees may have two open spots in the rotation next season and if Hughes doesn’t get enough innings to stretch him out, you’ll either have to use him for ~125 innings and find 75 innings from another starter or risk abusing his (still) young arm. IMO, sending him to the minors for the one purpose of building up innings isn’t as “dumb” as you made it seem.

  8. bonestock94 says:

    To play devil’s advocate, isn’t transitioning from bullpen to starter the exception more than the rule? That’s an impressive list of guys who have done it in the past, but isn’t there something to be said for letting a pitcher “ripen” in triple A?

  9. A.D. says:

    Argument just comes down to if one believes that facing ML hitters albeit in short stints is more valuable than working full games, throwing a full repertoire of pitches, albeit against AAA competition.

    • Bo says:

      Hes already dominated AAA. What more does he have left to prove there?

      Why cant he throw this mystery changeup on the major league level?

      • Am I the only Kevin? says:

        The same way he dominated in the bullpen. People couldn’t hit his fastball.

        He needs to work on secondary pitches so he can get through a batting order more than once, and you don’t do that in the MLB bullpen when the standings count.

      • pete says:

        he has pitched minuscule parts of three seasons in AAA. We know he’s a good enough pitcher to succeed at that level, but there is certainly something to be said for him actually getting to pitch a full season as a starter there, since he hasn’t had a full season as a starter since his AA campaign in ’06.

  10. TheZack says:

    “Frankly, I’m kind of astonished I had to write this post. There’s a lot of dumb ideas tossed around in Spring Training because there’s nothing else to talk about, and this is the perfect example of that.”

    –Really? Astonished? Dumb idea?? That seems like rather of a leap in reasoning now doesn’t it. Saying that it would be a smart idea to get your young pitcher destined to be a starter some badly needed innings at the beginning of the season by starting him in the minors so that come next year he can really be a starter is a dumb idea? But sticking him back in the BP, where he will be immediately assigned the role of “8th inning guy” and get sporadic work, especially for the first two months of the season, and then possibly have to stretch him back into a starter, something harder to do, if/when another starter gets hurt isn’t dumb??

    • andrew says:

      Personall, I don’t think either idea is dumb, but I do happen to agree that starting Hughes in the minors would be a better option. I think that the development gains from using all of his pitches in a AAA starting scenario is more valuable than the gains from using his top 2 pitches to get MLB hitters. Purely from a developmental standpoint, he already knows, everyone already knows, that he can get MLB hitters out with his top two pitches. I’d like to see him work on the others in the minors for a few months before coming up.

      • Personally, I don’t think either idea is dumb, but I do happen to agree that starting Hughes in the minors would be a better option.

        Repeated for emphasis.

        I think Hughes should begin the season in the AAA rotation, because it’s the smartest holistic decision. If they want to start him in the MLB bullpen, I can see the logic and wisdom behind that move as well, though.

        Neither of them are stupid or bad decisions. I think one is just a slightly smarter decision, all things considered, than the other.

        • Bo says:

          No. Hughes in the minors is stupid.

          What team has a better chance to win games? One with Hughes in the pen or the one without? Thats the only question that needs to be asked. Winning takes precedence over his starting.

          • What team has a better chance to win games? One with Hughes in the pen or the one without? Thats the only question that needs to be asked.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkDjz_eRoaw (skip to the 3:05 mark)

            O’Reilly: It’s an evil world we live in. Lemme ask you something. And this is a serious question: Do you want the United States to win in Iraq?
            Letterman: Well, you know, in the beginning, here’s my position in the beginning; and I think I sort of felt the way everybody did: We felt like, we wanted to do something, because something terrible had been done to us; we did not understand exactly why, all we knew was, something terrible, something heinous, something obscene had been done to us. So, while it didn’t necessarily make as much sense to go into Iraq as it did, perhaps, going into Afghanistan, I, like most everybody else felt like, yes, we need to do something. We need to do something. And, as the weeks turned into months and into years, and one death became a dozen deaths, and a hundred deaths, and a thousand deaths, then we began to realize, “You know what, maybe we’re causing more trouble over there than the whole effort has been worth.”
            O’Reilly: Possible. But do you want, right now, do you want the United States to win in Iraq?
            Letterman: (sighs, pauses) First of all, I, I –
            O’Reilly: — It’s an easy question. If you, if you don’t want the United States to win in Iraq–
            Letterman: It’s not easy for me, because I’m thoughtful.

  11. O says:

    Now this is a kick ass article!
    I agree with you 100% Mike, you must bring the best major league ready arms with you from Florida. Great article!

  12. Jake says:

    How can you send a guy to the minors when you need him in the majors?
    If anything, send Joba to the minors. He could use the practice.

    • Someone else who could also use the practice:

      Phil Hughes

      • Jake says:

        You think so? Seems to me that Hughes settled into the 8th inning role, and acted a terrific set up man to Mariano Rivera, but what do I know? Sample Size, right?

        • Sure, he got a lot of practice being a middle reliever. What we need him to do is to get a lot of practice being a starter, since that’s the role we intend him to keep for the next decade or so.

          • Jake says:

            I think article is fluff. I doubt the Yankees are going to send Hughes to the minors. Not after pitching so well last season. He was one of the best set up men in baseball last year.

            But then again, the Yankees like to claim they have a plan, and then they like to improvise. Hughes showed flashes of brilliance as a starter last year, but he also showed some inconsistency, as well.

            We won a World Series last year with Hughes in the pen. I know he’s got great stuff, and I think he’ll be solid as a starter, but moving him out of the pen, creates one serious hole.

            • Templeton "Brendog" Peck says:

              but moving him out of the pen, creates one serious hole.

              no, no it doesn’t

            • Zack says:

              “We won a World Series last year with Hughes in the pen”

              Hughes didnt realy have anything to do with the team’s success in October.: 6.1 IP, 11H, 6ER, 1 HR, 4BB, 7K

              • Bo says:

                Come on. The team wouldnt have been there without him in the pen.

                And those WS stats could be much worse if the guys name pitching was Edwar or Alby instead of Hughes.

                • Templeton "Brendog" Peck says:

                  Come on. The team wouldnt have been there without him in the pen.

                  this is like the 3rd or 4th blanket statement you have made that is just full of shit.

                • Jake says:

                  Bo is what you call dead on balls accurate.
                  The Yankees have not had a reliable 8th inning guy since Jeff Nelson.

                  Why should Hughes get any credit for being lights out for two straight months?

                  Anyone can do it. Heck, get Edwar Ramirez back. It’s freakin easy to pitch the 8th.

                • Are you another Bo alt? Be honest now.

                • Jake says:

                  No. I don’t think the 8th inning is a position you can ignore.

                  The sarcasm on this board is amazing. You think Chan Ho Park can pitch the 8th inning? Have you ever seen him pitch the 8th inning before?

                  Let me help you out here. No, have not.

                • Mike Axisa says:

                  Did you ever see Phil Hughes pitch the 8th inning before last May?

                  Let me help you out here. No, you did not.

                  Those guys come out of nowhere, so relax.

                • Jake says:

                  I gotta tell ya, I love the tone you guys have.
                  Everyone is stupid if they disagree.

                  Go ahead, Axisa, just throw out any name, and I’m sure replicating what Hughes did last year will be no problem.

                • Mike Axisa says:

                  And what makes you so sure Hughes will repeat what he did last year?

                • False. I have disagreements with people all the time, but I don’t think the people I converse with think I’m stupid, and I don’t think they’re stupid. This idea that commenters aren’t allowed to voice a dissenting opinion around here is just a myth.

                  If you say something stupid, people will call you out on it, but they won’t call you out just because you voice a dissenting opinion.

                  You never answered JMK’s question: Are you Bo?

                • Jake says:

                  “If you say something stupid, people will call you out on it, but they won’t call you out just because you voice a dissenting opinion.”

                  Fair enough. And when I do, I’ll deserve it. This, however isn’t one of times.

                  All I said is that replacing Hughes in the 8th inning isn’t something they’ll just figure out when the time comes. He’s the best 8th inning guy we’ve had in a decade.

                  Throwing out names of guys who were pitching in the Mexican leagues 3 years ago is mindless, and shows that you’re just trying to start a fight.

                  Obviously, no real Yankee fan is that lost.

                  And for the last time, I’m not Bo. I’m just a guy who recognizes that Bo is right. I’m sorry that you don’t.

                • Jake says:

                  And Mike, I never said I was sure Hughes would do it again.

                  I was responding to a post that said that Damaso Marte, Chan Ho Park, David Robertson and Al Aceves could handle the 8th inning because they all good relief pitchers.

                  Agree with that, do you?

                • Just slow down and cool it with the overreactions. I said nothing about anything that Bo said, and you keep creating straw-men like this ‘throwing out names of guys who were in the Mexican League’ cannard. There’s no need for that stuff, and that’s what causes the problems. Nobody’s trying to pick a fight with you.

  13. Big Juan says:

    I think TSJC had a great point last night for the Scranton crowd — the Sox kept Buchholz in Pawtucket last year and it probably helped him when he came back up.

    While I see your points, Mike, and agree with you mostly, I think the Yankees have the depth to make this decision.

    But like I said last night, I don’t believe that they’d ever start him in AAA anyway.

  14. C says:

    I disagree. It’s a tough call, and I don’t think you can call it a stupid idea. As much as I want to see Hughes in the big leagues all season long, I’m worried about putting him in the pen again for a couple reasons.

    First of all, I’m worried about his health during a bullpen-to-starter transition. I have no idea if that was part of the reason Joba got hurt in ’08 (maybe someone who knows more about injuries can help answer that?), and I would hate to lose Hughes to injury.

    Second, if he’s in the pen for an extended time, it might be hard to put him back into the rotation when he’s not stretched out and we have several other guys (Gaudin, Mitre, Aceves, or whoever else) who are stretched out. I could see a situation where they decide to just keep Hughes in the pen out of convenience and because he does his job there well. And at that point does he just become a career reliever? That would suck.

    I’m not saying he should definitely start in the minors, but I don’t think it’s as clear of a decision as Mike says.

  15. Chris says:

    However, if a starter were to go down for an extended period of time, well then you can stretch Hughes out to start.

    Looking at last year, they never transitioned Hughes back to the rotation after Wang went down. Even though there were concerns about Joba’s performance down the stretch, the Yankees weren’t willing to move Hughes back to the rotation. I don’t know whether this is a question of them valuing Hughes in the pen or worrying about injury risks, but for whatever reason the opportunity was there and it wasn’t taken. Why would this year be any different? If the Yankees start Hughes in the pen in April then he’ll finish the year in the pen.

    veryone’s all freaked out after Joba Chamberlain hurt his shoulder in 2008, but that’s one data point in a sea of them.

    There’s also Aceves last year. He made one spot start and his shoulder was bothering him for a month. So, in the last 2 years the Yankees have tried to transition two pitchers from the pen to the rotation. Both have come down with injuries. I’m guessing that the Yankees wouldn’t want to risk it again with one of their top prospects. It may not be a completely logical decision, but I expect their in house experience to trump the results from other teams.

    • rbizzler says:

      Your post illustrates the problem with anecdotal evidence in that the selective memory that colors your opinion is fueled by the power of the anecdotes (ie everyone loves a good story).

      If you want to get a full picture of the injury concerns facing pitchers transitioning from the bullpen to starting, and vice versa, you have to look at a larger body of evidence and not be swayed by just the anecdotal evidence that you are most familiar with.

  16. Accent Shallow says:

    Bobby Parnell, Justin Masterson, J.A. Happ, and Scott Feldman

    All of these guys are a) older than Hughes and b) didn’t/don’t have nearly his prospect shine. In short, they’re more fungible.

    I can see a case for sending Hughes down to start for a month or two, and if no one gets hurt or sucks, recalling him to pitch out of the pen. Whether he’s getting his work in or spinning his wheels is up to him and the coaching staff — sure, he can make minor leaguers pee themselves with the curve all day, so he should work on refining the rest of his game, not just throwing that when he gets in trouble.

    I can’t see much of a case for sending him down until September.

  17. Beamish says:

    The only real concern is that Hughes ends up spending the entire season in the bullpen and does not work enough innings to avoided the dreaded Verducci Effect for yet another season.

    Spot 6th man starts would go to Gaudin/Mitre and Hughes would only be stretched if he was a multiple start candidate. So the real question to ask is this: Can anyone really see the current five starters lasting the entire season?

    If you think the starting five are a lock for 30-32 starts each AND the Verducci Effect is also a concern then Hughes should start in Scranton to build innings before going to NY to work out of the pen.

    If you think there is no way he does not get his innings between the pen and big league starts then he should never see lovely NEPA.

    • Bo says:

      Is there really anything wrong with grooming an elite pitcher to replace Mariano? Or have we not realized that bullpens are important esp in Oct?

      • Is there really anything wrong with grooming an elite pitcher to replace Mariano?

        If that grooming of an elite pitcher to replace Mariano comes at the expense of grooming an elite pitcher to replace Andy Pettitte and Javier Vazquez, then yes, there IS something wrong with grooming an elite pitcher to replace Mariano.

      • bexarama says:

        Yeah, there is something wrong with grooming a guy that has the ceiling of a very very good starting pitcher to be a closer/bullpen guy when he’s only 23.

        Or have we not realized that bullpens are important esp in Oct?
        You do know your bullpen boy Phil Hughes pretty much totally sucked in the playoffs, and we still won, right?

  18. There’s several reasons the Yanks shouldn’t send Hughes down to the minors. First off, he’s one of the seven or eight best pitchers in the organization, top to bottom, and the best big league ready arms should always good north when the club breaks camp.

    First question: Why? Seriously, why “should the best big league arms always go north when the club breaks camp”?

    I mean, it seems like a basically true statement, sure, but is it ALWAYS the case that the best big league arms must always go north wit the big league team? What if there are specific and concrete roster construction permutations that give you numerous overlapping reasons to NOT bring one or two of your best arms north?

    I think you’re being a little too reflexive in that statement. You always want to have your best big league arms on the roster in September for the playoffs. I don’t know that you always have to have your best big league arms on the roster in April when you’re still going through the process of sorting out the wheat from the chaff.

    Going north with our best big league arms on the roster means losing some of our assets to DFAs or forced trades. I’m reminded of the Great Cervelli/Molina debate from midseason. Sure, Cervelli was probably a better backup catcher than Molina, but do we really want to lose one of the catchers in our system just to keep the marginally better Cervelli with the big league club? Out of principle?

    (Yes, I realize the upgrade from Molina to Cervelli is probably smaller than the upgrade from Mitre to Hughes. The point still stands, though.)

    I disagree with the central premise of the argument. You don’t HAVE TO bring your best pitchers north on Opening Day. All you HAVE to do is balance out your long-term and short-term organizational goals.

    There’s plenty of days that come after Opening Day to make the later move to bring your good pitcher to the big club, after injury, attrition, and poor performance thins the roster out a bit over the haul of the season.

  19. CountryClub says:

    I normally find myself agreeing with Mike and disagreeing with Ben. But I have to go with Ben on this one. The Yanks pen will be more than fine with Hughes getting much needed innings in AAA. Plus, if the pen implodes early in the season they could easily call him up to solidify it.

    I’ve said it many times, but I think the best plan would be for Hughes to pitch half the year in AAA (assuming he’s not needed earlier at the majors) as a starter and then bring him to the big club around the All Star break to join the pen.

    • We don’t need to have our very best team on the field on April 4th. It would be nice, sure, but it’s not a necessity.

      There are valid reasons to go north with a slightly inferior team, from roster construction standpoints. The first and foremost reason is the near certainty that injuries will force the club to change over the course of the season.

      • Rose says:

        But all of our hardest games are in April!!!

        http://riveraveblues.com/2010/.....ind-24476/

      • Bo says:

        Thats a great thing to say esp if we start out 4-11.

        I wonder how keeping one of your best pitchers in AAA will feel.

        Not like Girardi isnt managing for a contract and the team is loaded with veterans or anything.

        • ROBTEN says:

          If Hughes goes to Scranton for a month, Canada will invade Minnesota, Norway will nuke Denmark, and the moon will fall out of Earth’s orbit thereby sending the Earth hurtling into space.

          How do you feel now???!!?!?

          Also, If you go back three years, the Yankees are 35-39 in April but 251-161 from May on

          But yes, lets panic about 15 games in April.

        • bexarama says:

          Thats a great thing to say esp if we start out 4-11.
          And maybe we’ll start out 11-4. You don’t know. Didn’t we go 25-11 when Jeter was out in 2003? Obviously the team is better off without Jeter!!!!

          I wonder how keeping one of your best pitchers in AAA will feel.
          Probably bad. But intelligent fans will understand why. And if we’re losing those games because of the bullpen, maybe you’ll have a point. But maybe we’re just getting blown away or the offense doesn’t click until a week in or something. Is THAT Hughes-in-the-minors’ fault?

          Not like Girardi isnt managing for a contract and the team is loaded with veterans or anything.
          Not like Girardi won a championship last year or anything and the veterans on the team are veterans who are professionals who have gone through a lot of stuff and will deal with it, because they’re, again, PROFESSIONALS.

  20. Rose says:

    We don’t even know if EITHER of these are going to be happening. Dave Eiland and others have openly talked about rather having Joba in the bullpen and Phil Hughes in the rotation (if they had to choose an option of this caliber)…

  21. Kevin M. says:

    What makes you think that the Yankees will pull Hughes from bullpen if he’s succesful there? The didn’t do it last year…preferring to let Segio Mitre get his brains bashed in every 5 days to keep Hughes in bullpen.

    So why should we think it would be any different when a starter goes down this season?

  22. Ana says:

    My apologies if this has been brought up before, but … considering Hughes loses the fifth starter spot, wouldn’t it work well to make him both the 7th and 8th inning guy this year? I mean, Mariano, who’s a one-inning reliever used in specific spots, generally pitches around 70 innings a year. If you can double up on that for Hughes by giving him two-inning stints (and occasionally bringing him in for two or three innings in a blowout), you’d have him at around 140/150 innings at the end of the year, around his career (minor league) high of 146 (in 2006), he’d be primed innings-wise to step into a full-time starter role in 2011, while having gained more experience pitching to major league hitters.

    • That is an intense workload for a reliever. I think there would probably be a ton of stress on Hughes physically if they tried to get him that many innings as a reliever, it’s pretty unprecedented.

      For comparison’s sake, to put those numbers in context… Rivera pitched 107.2 innings in 1996, by far the biggest workload of his career, Gordon pitched 89.2 innings in 2004 as the overworked set-up man, and no reliever pitched more than 89.1 innings in 2009.

      Hughes isn’t getting 140/150 innings as a reliever in 2010.

    • If you can double up on that for Hughes by giving him two-inning stints (and occasionally bringing him in for two or three innings in a blowout), you’d have him at around 140/150 innings at the end of the year, around his career (minor league) high of 146 (in 2006), he’d be primed innings-wise to step into a full-time starter role in 2011, while having gained more experience pitching to major league hitters.

      This just doesn’t happen, though. Relievers don’t throw 140 innings in a year (without being true swingmen and accumulating a lot of spot-starts, Ramiro Mendoza-style).

      A workload like that, on irregular rest, would most certainly blow Hughes’s arm out, and it would also ossify the other relievers in the pen due to infrequency.

      Decent idea in the abstract, but utterly unworkable in reality.

      • Ana says:

        All right. I stand corrected. =)

        • rbizzler says:

          No worries. That is the point of this space; to bandy ideas about and see if they make sense or not. The ultra-reliever idea has been discussed here before as a creative solution to innings limit and development issues. At first glance it seems like a good idea, but the injury risk of using a young arm (or any arm for that matter) in that type of role is prohibitive.

  23. Months ago I was on board with holding Hughes back to start the year (having him start late in order to suppress his innings total) and then letting him work at SWB as a starter, and I still think there’s a good argument there that such a move would be the best thing for Hughes. The theory behind it is that you keep Hughes in a rotation (although in SWB instead of the Bronx) so he works as a starter, and you let him pitch to finish out the season either in SWB or the Bronx so that he hits his innings limit without having to end his season early. The utility to the Yankees is that you keep Hughes on track to work as a starter for the big league club in 2010 without serious innings limits concerns.

    Now, I get that working against big league hitters is also important. There are two benefits here to choose between – (a) working against big league hitters and (b) staying on track with innings limits.

    But the real reason why I started to change my mind about this, which I’ve noted a few times over the last month or two (though I’m still not sure it’s as black-and-white an issue as Mike does), are (a) that the needs of the MLB club in 2010 are pretty important, and Hughes clearly makes the MLB club much better if he’s toeing the rubber in the Bronx, and (b) in addition – and I’ve had this conversation a few times around here – this idea that Hughes holds a substantial amount of value as a replacement starter if he stays in SWB as a starter is overemphasized by some. If the Yanks need a short-term replacement starter for say 2-4 starts, the added value of having Hughes (instead of any of the other available options) come up from AAA to take those starts is pretty minimal. And, like Mike said, if a longer-term replacement starter is needed. Hughes can be stretched out for that role if he’s in the MLB bullpen.

    People seem afraid that if Hughes starts 2010 in the big league ‘pen, that he’ll never be a starter again… But a lot of these people also have faith in the Cashman/Girardi regime to do the right thing with this team… So I find it strange that people think the Yankees will abandon their long-term plan for Hughes, which they’ve repeatedly stated is to have Hughes in the rotation, just because he might fill a role in the big league ‘pen to start the 2010 season when he’s 23-24 years old.

    • PS: Just in case I wasn’t clear about where I stand on this… I’ve definitely been leaning to the Hughes in the ‘pen side of this argument lately, but I’m not nearly as sure about it as Mike, nor do i think the idea that Hughes should work in AAA as a starter or even be held back to start the season before working in AAA as a starter is “dumb.” I think there are pretty good points to be made on both sides of this argument, and I’m pretty sure Mike could have made his point without calling the other side of the argument dumb, which really didn’t serve any purpose.

    • Big Juan says:

      So I find it strange that people think the Yankees will abandon their long-term plan for Hughes, which they’ve repeatedly stated is to have Hughes in the rotation, just because he might fill a role in the big league ‘pen to start the 2010 season when he’s 23-24 years old.

      I’m not so much worried about them abandoning the plan as I am about him pitching one inning every four or five days. I just don’t think Hughes will gain much from throwing fastballs 65-70% of the time.

    • But the real reason why I started to change my mind about this, which I’ve noted a few times over the last month or two (though I’m still not sure it’s as black-and-white an issue as Mike does), are (a) that the needs of the MLB club in 2010 are pretty important, and Hughes clearly makes the MLB club much better if he’s toeing the rubber in the Bronx, and (b) in addition – and I’ve had this conversation a few times around here – this idea that Hughes holds a substantial amount of value as a replacement starter if he stays in SWB as a starter is overemphasized by some.

      My initial reaction to this statement:

      There’s about 3-4 compelling reasons to start Hughes’s season in AAA. You’re using the relative weakness of the least compelling of the bunch as reason to be less impressed by the MORE compelling of the bunch.

      I’m not saying you don’t have the right to do that, but it’s a little unfair to the argument, IMO. The three main points of the “Scranton ‘Til the Stretch™” argument are
      1) While he makes the 2010 big league club better, the 2010 big league club (and the bullpen specifically) is already pretty damn pimp-tits without him and we’ll be okay playing the first part of the season sans-Hughes,
      2) The likelihood of there never being a long-term opening for Hughes is slim, and even if there isn’t, he’s going to come up for the stretch run (when we need him the most) in the bullpen anyway
      3) Spending at least half the year being in a rotation (pitching every fifth day, building innings, working on his secondary stuff, mastering pitch economy and practicing going deep into ballgames) would do amazing wonders for his readiness to join the big league rotation permanently and successfully in 2011

      The whole “temporary emergency starter” argument was/is overstated, yes. I feel like it’s just a small codicil to the main treatise, though, and not really an important point, so quibbling with it merely is attacking the periphery of the Scranton ‘Til the Stretch™ argument.

      • I certainly didn’t intend to short-change the Scranton ‘Til the Stretch argument and I’m glad to respond to these points. I chose the two points I dealt with in my comment above because those are the two points I find most commonly discussed by the people who want the loser of the 5th starter competition in AAA, I wasn’t saying I could speak for all people on those points or that my comment was exhaustive of all possible arguments.

        “1) While he makes the 2010 big league club better, the 2010 big league club (and the bullpen specifically) is already pretty damn pimp-tits without him and we’ll be okay playing the first part of the season sans-Hughes,”

        Agreed, to a certain extent. On the other hand, the MLB team will be better with Hughes in the bullpen, that’s pretty undeniable. And we can’t look at this question in a vacuum, we have to compare the relative utility of the different roles. Is the utility to the big league club (the ultimate concern here) greater if Hughes is in AAA, or in the MLB ‘pen – that’s the real question, not whether the team would be good without Hughes in MLB. (And that’s why I then moved on to the replacement starter idea, because I’m not looking at these ideas independently of each other, but in comparison with each other, as I try to figure out for myself what I think provides the most value to the MLB team.)

        And, again, as I’ve said every single time I’ve participated in this conversation – I think you guys have good points. I’ll note that I said that in my comment above, just for emphasis. I’m certainly not saying there’s no argument for keeping Hughes in AAA or holding him back to start the season.

        “2) The likelihood of there never being a long-term opening for Hughes is slim, and even if there isn’t, he’s going to come up for the stretch run (when we need him the most) in the bullpen anyway”

        Whether the chances that the Yanks will need a long-term replacement are slim or not, that’s a concern a lot of people have voiced about Hughes this season, so I was responding to that concern. I’m not making this argument up… A lot of people have voiced the opinion that having Hughes in AAA as a replacement MLB starter is part of why they want him in AAA, so I responded to that argument.

        “3) Spending at least half the year being in a rotation (pitching every fifth day, building innings, working on his secondary stuff, mastering pitch economy and practicing going deep into ballgames) would do amazing wonders for his readiness to join the big league rotation permanently and successfully in 2011″

        Totally, and I agree with that sentiment. Again… I said that above. I’m not sure why you think I either didn’t address that concern or that I don’t agree with it.

        “The whole ‘temporary emergency starter’ argument was/is overstated, yes. I feel like it’s just a small codicil to the main treatise, though, and not really an important point, so quibbling with it merely is attacking the periphery of the Scranton ‘Til the Stretch™ argument.”

        Here’s the thing though… I wasn’t responding to just you, here. It was a stand-alone comment in which I addressed concerns I’ve seen expressed numerous times in comment threads. I’m not attacking the periphery of your argument… I’m addressing arguments I’ve seen in general. I mean… No offense… But every comment isn’t a response to just you or to just your comments.

        • I know, I wasn’t saying you were responding specifically to me, sorry if it came off that way. Just wanted to put what I said on the record.

          You’re good money with me, I see and respect your argument.

          (hands Mondesi a tasty and refreshing Pinstripe Philthy-Fermented Golden Ale™)

        • Just btw, in my defense… I wrote:

          “I certainly didn’t intend to short-change the Scranton ‘Til the Stretch argument and I’m glad to respond to these points. I chose the two points I dealt with in my comment above because those are the two points I find most commonly discussed by the people who want the loser of the 5th starter competition in AAA, I wasn’t saying I could speak for all people on those points or that my comment was exhaustive of all possible arguments.”

          And while we were having this conversation, someone else in the thread said:

          “I’m definitely in the camp though that thinks Hughes should start the season in AAA so he can build up innings while also serving as the primary call up to both the big league rotation and bullpen in case of any injuries.” [emphasis added]

          That whole replacement starter thing just comes up really often from people on the Scranton ‘Til the Stretch side of things, that’s the only reason I addressed it.

  24. Chip says:

    While the difference between Hughes and Mitre may be huge (assuming that Mitre would be traded/DFA’d if Hughes stayed up) due to bullpen chaining, I don’t think the impact would be as big as you think. I mean you have Park/Robertson/Mitre/Gaudin all around to pitch the 7th and 8th innings so why have Hughes doing that? If they do keep him in the big league pen, I’d hope they pitch him more in low-leverage situations and encourage him to use all four of his pitches much like Aceves does out of the pen

  25. Ryan says:

    why is building up innings and stretching out a young pitcher’s arm properly a waste of time. Yes getting MLB hitters out is important, so is the development of secondary pitches. Hughes needs to learn to mix up and command all of his pitches. There are more valuable things he can work on in the minors then just chewing sunflower seeds or “wasting time”. It’s not like Hughes is a completely finished product with 4 perfect major league quality pitches and simply is putting those refined secondary pitches off to the side while he hangs out in the BP. Truth is he’s only learning to get MLB hitters out with his FB or Cutter as even his curv seemed to dissappear in the second half of 09.

  26. ROBTEN says:

    if a starter were to go down for an extended period of time, well then you can stretch Hughes out to start.

    This is true, but the team has show reluctance to do this. Last year, when it was clear that Wang was not going to return, the team had the option around the All-Star break to use the extra time off to send Hughes to AAA in order to stretch him out. However, they went with Aceves, Mitre, and Gaudin as the fifth starter rather than Hughes. Whether or not the evidence is there to say that Joba’s transition was the “cause” of his shoulder injury, the team has demonstrated in the past a hesitancy to alter the role of its young pitchers because of fear of injury. Also, if Hughes starts in the pen and you had to stretch him out you’d have to send him down for two-three weeks to get ready, meaning that you’d lose him for several weeks anyway.

    First off, he’s one of the seven or eight best pitchers in the organization, top to bottom, and the best big league ready arms should always good north when the club breaks camp.

    This is a fairly absolute statement that I think oversimplifies things. There are many reasons why you might not break camp with your top seven or eight best pitchers. Quite simply, someone might have one of the best arms in the system, but is just not ready to pitch at the ML level. Right now, the team is already committed to bringing Mitre, Gaudin, and Park north even though they might not be among the best seven or eight pitchers on the team. Given this commitment, why not us this opportunity to allow Hughes time to work on his secondary pitches while you see what you have with these three. The question is whether the difference between Hughes and say Mitre/Gaudin/Park (as well as DRob, Melancon, and Marte) for one or two months is so great that Hughes simply can’t be sent to Scranton. I don’t think so. If they work out, then there isn’t a problem. If they don’t, then you can bring up Hughes who, in the meantime, is still getting innings, is stretched-out to start if necessary, and has been practicing on the changeup.

    Hughes has nothing to learn in the minors, at all. He can throw 35 changeups a game, but big deal. Throwing changeups to in big league situations is different than throwing them to minor leaguers. And there’s no rule against throwing changeups out of the bullpen. He can still work on it.

    This is another absolute statement. Yes, there is no reason that he can’t throw changeups in relief, but what is the likelihood of this happening? We see all the time pitchers working on secondary pitches in spring training only to abandon them when the season starts because they don’t have the “feel” for the pitch. If Hughes struggles while using the changeup because he’s not comfortable, how long do you think he or they allow the experiment to go on? The point of going to the minors is not results (“carving guys up”), but extended practice time and gaining innings so that he can help the team long term.

    We know Hughes can go through a lineup three times, he’s done it his entire life in the minors. All he’s going to do in Triple-A is spin his wheels. You don’t learn anything from carving guys up, you learn from making mistakes and getting smacked around a bit.

    The problem is that this argument also goes the other way. We all know Hughes can go through a ML lineup once a game. In fact, he’s quite successful at it. But, he’s struggled to consistently pitch deep into games at the ML level. Part of learning to pitch in the ML is learning how to turn over a lineup of some of the world’s best hitters. While he might not gain “experience” in the MiL, he won’t gain “experience” pitching deep into games from pitching one inning twice a week either.

    Ultimately I think that it is a question of short- and long-term goals. In the short term, I agree, Hughes would be the second best arm out of the pen. However, in the long term, another season pitching under 100 innings combined with a relatively limited opportunity to work on secondary pitches might stunt his development. The “risk” of sending Hughes to Scranton for one-two months to remain stretched out while, at the same time, available for the pen if either Mitre/Gaudin/Park falters seems smaller than planning from the beginning to leave Hughes in the pen for the another entire season.

    • We know Hughes can go through a lineup three times, he’s done it his entire life in the minors. All he’s going to do in Triple-A is spin his wheels. You don’t learn anything from carving guys up, you learn from making mistakes and getting smacked around a bit.

      The problem is that this argument also goes the other way. We all know Hughes can go through a ML lineup once a game. In fact, he’s quite successful at it. But, he’s struggled to consistently pitch deep into games at the ML level. Part of learning to pitch in the ML is learning how to turn over a lineup of some of the world’s best hitters. While he might not gain “experience” in the MiL, he won’t gain “experience” pitching deep into games from pitching one inning twice a week either.

      Well said, repeated for emphasis.

    • Am I the only Kevin? says:

      Exactly. The team, for whatever, reason, showed last season a major reluctance to stretch Hughes out mid season. Just won’t happen.

  27. Rob in CT says:

    You know what I think is a dumb idea? The idea that Sergio Mitre is worth a spot on the roster (if they fail to trade him) resulting in the need to send down Hughes, Aceves or Robertson. I get that they want depth, but seriously, Sergio Mitre? He’s the definition of a scrub. Replacement level. Why bother wasting time with him? Hughes needs to face major league hitters. Aceves and Robertson are good pitchers right now. Mitre is a guy who might, if everything breaks his way, be as useful as a guy like Aceves. Meh.

  28. Frank1979 says:

    Forgive me if somebody has already brought up this idea in previous posts…but what if they were to just make Hughes into Joba’s personal reliever. Meaning that every time Joba pitches, Hughes sort of acts as a secondary starter for that day. This would do a few things:

    1. It would keep Hughes in the majors.
    2. It would keep Hughes on a normal 5 day schedule like the other starters.
    3. On days when Joba is struggling, Hughes could come in and basically act as a long reliever, and on days when Joba is pitching well, Hughes could come in for an “old school” save as in just pitching from the 7th or 8th inning on and then maybe pitch a couple of innings more in the bullpen after the game is over to keep himself stretched out.

    I know this idea is probably a little crazy and the MSM would have a field day ripping this idea apart, but maybe it could work.

    • People have brought it up numerous times. It’s not a feasible idea.

      Joba and Hughes both need more work than that. They can’t be tandem starters unless a regulation game suddenly became 12 innings long.

      • Frank1979 says:

        But isn’t it a better idea than just pigeon holing Hughes into the “8th inning” role where he definitely won’t get as much work.

        Also, even if Joba improves from last year,(which I think he will), he’s still probably going to have some bad starts every now and then, so wouldn’t it be better to give those innings to Hughes rather than a lesser pitcher like Mitre or Gaudin?

        • But they don’t have to choose between either handcuffing Hughes to Joba or piegon-holing Hughes into the 8th inning role, there are other options. They can get Hughes more work than he would get as just the 8th inning reliever in other ways.

          And, frankly, I’m not so sure that handcuffing Hughes to Joba would be a good way to get Hughes more innings. Joba needs his innings, too… If Joba is doing well in a game, he’s gotta keep pitching and get his innings… Not to mention, the Yanks main goal is to win games, so if Joba is strong he’ll stay in a game as long as feasible. You could be in a situation where Hughes doesn’t get any work for a week or two at a time, under your plan. That’s not doable.

          One more thing… If you handcuff Hughes to Joba, you effectively have 6 starters taking up spots on your MLB roster and one less reliever than you’d like, because one of those relievers is only available once every five days.

          So… To sum up the scattered thoughts… It’s probably just not a good idea.

  29. larryf says:

    I may have missed a comment on this but looking at the schedule for Apr-June the Yanks have a day off 9 of the 12 weeks. Throw in a few weather postponements and how many games does Joba-our 5th starter-actually start in the first half?

  30. Am I the only Kevin? says:

    What is that saying? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results?”

    Everyone said Hughes would get his innings last year, and we saw how well that worked out. I have no doubt in my mind that if Hughes ends up in the bullpen to start the season, then he will stay there all year long unless Armegeddon comes (say, we lose 3 starters long term). Cash isn’t going to be able to convince his manager that Hughes building up arm strength and innings in Scranton is worth the minor bullpen downgrade.

    And the argument that he could work on his change in the bullpen is complete crap. High leverage bullpen guys generally throw 2 pitches, tops, even when they have a decent 3rd pitch exactly because they are throwing short stints in high leverage. Showing a hitter a different look to set him up or prevent others from sitting on a pitch has little benefit because you’re not going to go through more than 5-6 batters.

    • Bo says:

      I know its revolutionary but couldnt he work on this pitch during bullpen sessions???

      • Am I the only Kevin? says:

        1) Relievers generally don’t throw bullpen sessions, unless they have been shelved for ineffectiveness. If you throw a bullpen, that is the equivalent of pitching in the game. This means you are not available that day and the next day.

        2) Throwing a pitch to a catcher without a hitter in the box is not the same as throwing it in a game.

        • Bo says:

          And dominating minor leaguers again after well dominating major leaguers a yr ago is good for development?

          Hes done all he can in the minors. You’d just be weakening the team if you send him down.

          • Templeton "Brendog" Peck says:

            You’d just be weakening the team in the short term for a small amount of time if you send him down to strengthen the team in the longrun and oging forward and to not sacrifice the opportuntiy for multiple championships for one by putting him and keeping him in the pen. starters, even a solid 5th starter >>>>>>>>> reliever

            there, i fixed that for you.

            you’re ignorance regarding long term planning and inability to see any further than an inch in front of your face makes me worry for your future.

  31. Random thought about Hughes’s innings limits… Obviously I get why we’re concerned with building up his innings, and why that concern leads some people to want Hughes to work as a starter in AAA this season… But is it possible we’re putting too much emphasis on building his innings quickly?

    Let me explain a bit… Say Hughes doesn’t get as many innings this season as we’d like, and in 2011 will be limited to 130-140 innings, and in 2012 will be around 180-200 (so, effectively no limit). Doesn’t the next innings-limited young pitcher just take Hughes’s spot as the guy who gets some innings in the MLB rotation, to make up the difference? The Yanks have done a good job collecting promising arms in their system… Might it not be the worst thing in the world if Hughes can’t go 180 innings in 2011, because the Yanks will have other arms they’ll want to get some MLB experience at some point in the season (either as injury replacements or towards the end of the season)? I mean, we’re always concerned about getting these guys work and moving them up through the system – so maybe having some room in MLB for the McAllisters, Novas and other promising arms in the minors (who knows who will make the leap) to get some innings isn’t the worst thing in the world.

    Again… Totally random thought that I just wanted to see if anyone had any input on, but I think it’s relevant (even if I realize in 5 minutes that it’s dumb).

  32. Jonathan says:

    here are a list of pitching importance

    start > closer >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 8th inning guy > mid inning guys

    it doesnt not matter if the 8th inning is hughes, robertson, marte, or aceves

    i think you are giving hughes too much credit on his impact on team

    but since you feel that hughes is such an important cog on the yankees and that the 8th inning is so important do you really want him trying to learn a pitch in the big leagues

    throw a bad change up in AAA and they still might swing and miss, throw a bad changeup in the majors and its a home run.

  33. pete says:

    ” and the best big league ready arms should always good north when the club breaks camp”

    scranton is north of florida.

    /had to’d

    But seriously, I think this is a misleading statement, because it sounds so obvious that it must be indisputable, but there is actually an underlying fallacy here. The assumption is that Hughes is legitimately “big league ready”. This is, in my opinion, not entirely true. Hughes is big-league ready as far as pitching in the bullpen goes, but as an MLB starter, his career ERA is north of 5. Considering his talent level as a starting pitcher, I would argue that he is decidedly NOT big-league ready. What he is missing is that third full season of starting that he still hasn’t gotten.

    Hughes has been around so long and has pitched in AAA that we all assume he’s had the equivalent of a full season at AAA, and that he has “nothing left to gain” from pitching in the minors, but this is untrue. Pitching parts of several injury-ridden and stunted-by-bullpen seasons in AAA does not equate to pitching a full season there, because a major part of that aspect of a player’s development IS throwing that full season down there. It gives a pitcher an opportunity to strengthen his arm to the point where he can throw 150-170 innings the next season, and it gives him an opportunity to develop the remainder of his repertoire.

    I do feel that there is something to be gained from a stint in the MLB bullpen, but he has already pitched there, and already gained what was to be gained. Bullpen stints do, I believe, help a starter develop his best pitches into legitimate out-pitches because they are so often pitching for the strikeout since they don’t need to conserve themselves. Thus the arm becomes very adept at throwing, for example, the fastball up and in, or the curve down and away, etc, to the exact right locations for optimal pitch effectiveness. But no amount of time in the bullpen can prepare a pitcher for a full season of starting because A) the pitcher’s arm will not have been stretched out and B) the pitcher will likely not have done much of anything with his 3rd/4th pitches.

    So it is certainly untrue when people say that it is a waste of development time for a starter to pitch in the bullpen because it isn’t. This is, in my opinion, something that enables a pitcher with good stuff to hone his strikeout ability and make himself better at getting out of jams in the future. But that is a small part of a pitcher’s development, and it is one that is simply hastened by a bullpen stint, not facilitated in entirety by one. Many starters simply come up and struggle for a year or two in the bigs before they gain that jam-escaping ability that enables them to fulfill their potential.

    It is impossible, however, for a pitcher to gain full-season stamina without pitching full seasons, and what people seem to forget is that Hughes has not had the opportunity to do this since 2006. And this year he has that opportunity. Not just because he is healthy, but because the yankees have 5 starters who are likely better than he is in some capacity (mostly in terms of stamina), and 7 relievers who, while lesser pitchers than Hughes (with the possible exception of mariano), all figure to be perfectly capable major league relievers. If the bullpen falls to pieces in the regular season, that’s a different story, but if they approach their performance levels from last year, then the dropoff resulting from Hughes pitching in AAA would not be extreme. Thus Hughes, despite being capable of improving the 2010 club, is not, as things stand now, vital to its success. The only situations in which he would be, in fact, are if he is needed as a starter due to an injury in the rotation, which would necessitate his being ready to start, or if the ‘pen PROVES itself incapable of holding a lead, which would take more than a few weeks of spring training to determine.

    So, as you can see, to say that “the best big league ready arms should always go north” is a thoroughly debatable statement masquerading as indisputable fact. I would even say, in fact, that it is a verifiable Boversimplification. Consider this: CC is coming off his third consecutive heavy workload, Burnett his second (and first career 2-year injury free period), Pettitte is coming of a heavy workload for a pitcher who is approaching his 38th birthday, and Joba jumped up his innings by quite a bit from last years. There is undeniably considerable injury risk in the Yankees rotation. Not risk that we should be up in arms about – all teams have considerable injury risks in their rotations. That’s what starting pitching is – a considerable injury risk. But that’s why every team would kill to have a pitcher of Hughes’s caliber starting in AAA, ready to come up whenever he is needed. There are a lot of great starting pitching prospects out there right now who could succeed in a major league bullpen right now, and be one of the 7 or 8 best pitchers on their respective MLB clubs. But if there isn’t room for them to start, and they haven’t garnered enough innings as starters to be ready for a full-time starting role, they don’t pitch out of the MLB bullpen, they “toil” in AAA.

    You can’t make the argument that Hughes shouldn’t be pitching in AAA because the competition is lower and it would be “too easy” for him if the alternative is him pitching in the MLB bullpen, where he is going to be able to max out on every pitch and blow hitters away and not have to worry about conserving himself. He has the ability to rear back and strike guys out already. What he doesn’t have yet is the ability to pitch 170+ innings. He’ll need that for next year, when Andy’s and Javy’s contracts are up.

    Certainly there are positives to keeping him in the bullpen. But Hughes pitching in AAA in 2010 is not, never was, and never will be a “dumb idea floating around because there’s nothing else to talk about”. It is a very legitimate option that, quite frankly, is probably the better one for the team, long-term.

  34. Sorry for the self-promotion, but Girardi said this spring that he’s taking the 12 best pitchers. I thought that pretty much ended these discussions.

    http://www.lennysyankees.com/2.....riple.html

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