Phil Hughes & New Beginnings

Forbes: Yanks worth $1.85 billion
2012 Season Preview: Depth

The hot story of Spring Training has been Michael Pineda and his weight, his velocity, and his changeup. We hear about it everyday for better or worse, but that’s just part of the game now. Phil Hughes went through all of that stuff last year; he’s been there, done that. He’s been part of rotation competitions, been under the microscope, and had to answer questions about his missing velocity. Last season was basically a lost year for the 25-year-old, but the struggles appear to have led to refocused and rededicated Hughes.

“I feel a lot better,” he said yesterday. “It’s easier to sleep at night for sure compared to last year. Hearing the velocity issues and knowing that something’s not right. Right now I just feel like I can go out and pitch and not worry about all that stuff. Get my changeup going. Throw my breaking ball. Just worry about pitching and not necessarily throwing the ball as hard as I can to generate velocity.”

Hughes worked out at Athletes Performance Institute this offseason and reported to camp in noticeably better shape. The shoulder inflammation that cost him velocity and effectiveness early last year appears to be a thing of the past, as he’s regularly sat in the low-90s with the occasional 94 during exhibition games. His curveball even regained some bite and yesterday he threw more than a handful of changeups. You can see two of better ones at 0:31 and 0:41 of this video.

“I feel like he is throwing almost better than he ever has,” said one scout to Andrew Marchand. “That good curveball seems to have comeback … Unless he has a setback, he has to be a starter.” Another scout told Erik Boland that Hughes is a “totally different pitcher than last spring.”

The fifth starter competition is apparently rigged in Hughes’ favor, just like it was two years ago. Freddy Garcia is a nice guy and an effective pitcher, but he’s going to be gone after the season if not sooner. Hughes is still under team control as an arbitration-eligible player in 2013, and I do think the Yankees owe it to themselves to see what they can get out of him, if anything. After all the innings limits and injuries and rotation-to-bullpen-to-rotation nonsense, let’s just see him pitch this summer and hope for the best. It’ll be easier to stomach as the fifth starter rather than the third starter like he was expected to be at this time last year.

“It’s hard to worry about [my role] when I just come in and do my work and do everything I can and just leave everything else up to the organization,” said Hughes. “Whether it’s signing Andy Pettitte or coming in with six guys for five spots, whatever it is, I’m just trying to show the best stuff that I can and see where it takes me.”

Phil Hughes still has a long way to go as far as being a reliable big league starter, especially one for the Yankees. He’s ridden the career roller coaster already and is again starting anew this season, showing livelier stuff and an emphasis on conditioning that is encouraging if not overdue. “It was a long hard season for him [in 2011],” said Joe Girardi yesterday, “and sometimes those can be the seasons where we learn the most.”

[Photo via Nick Laham/Getty]

Forbes: Yanks worth $1.85 billion
2012 Season Preview: Depth
  • CountryClub

    I watched the game last night on my DVR and was pleasantly surprised at how nasty his changeup looked at times. If he gains any consistency with that pitch he’s going to be more than all right.

    • Cdibs

      Agreed. His changeup looks very, very good and he’s gotten some ugly swings. Good arm slot, good change in speed off his fastball, and great movement. If he stays with that pitch, he’s going to be able to work much more efficiently and get a bunch of weak ground balls. I’m excited to see what he can do this year.

  • JohnC

    its all coming together nicely. Hughes looks like the 2010 first half Hughes. Pineda’s velocity is coming along and so is his change up. Kuroda has looked sharp. CC is CC. Not worried about him. Nova concerns me a little bit. He’s been hit hard this SPring. Cabral was very impressiv yesterday and has gotten better with each outing and Rapada has been pretty good too.

    • JFish

      I agree. Nova worries me. He hasn’t really looked sharp all spring. If/When Pettitte is ready to join the rotation, my gut says Nova will get the boot.

      • Bo Knows

        The command will come, but eye test it looks like Nova is still getting a lot grounders but they are finding holes and the homer problem seems to be more of an outlier than anything if you consider his overall career and he’s still not walking anyone. It’s annoying seeing all the hits but plenty of pitchers get knocked around this time of year, especially if they are working on something; which appears to be the case with Nova. He’s getting a lot more swinging strikes, and has already has matched his K out total for last year in 8 fewer innings.

      • JoeyA

        Mike was addressing this on twitter this morning. I haven’t had a chance to watch too many games and I feel as though a box score only tells half the story for Nova, being that he’s a pitcher who relies on slider/sinker and not too much on velocity.

        From reports, he seems to have absolutely no command on any of his pitches.

        Do we think this is due to last year’s arm issue in the postseason or just general fatigue due to last year’s workload?

        Thankfully, we have a bevy of SP options, but this has to be the biggest concern in Yankee camp at this point.

        • Bo Knows

          His velocity has been fine, but your right about box scores…I was just looking at his two worst ST starts. 4 of his 7 hits in the Orioles game came off grounders, 3 of his 6 hits in the Toronto game came from grounders. If an extreme groundballer isn’t getting his gb’s converted into outs then he’s royally screwed.

          • JoeyA

            Do you have or know where I could find his BABIP for ST games, as I would imagine that has to be pretty high. And you’re 100% correct re: his GB rate.

            that being said, command has been the issue this spring. luckily, its usually the last thing to come to a pitcher, especially one that relies less on velo. Let’s just hope he regains the form he found last season from his AAA demotion

            • RetroRob

              A new federal law was created forbiding the release of BABIP data for ST games.

            • smurfy

              A groundballer should command having the A team behind him.

  • Bo Knows

    Hughes, has looked very sharp, his curveball has the big, slow, bordeline cartoonish amount of break that it used to have before and his changeup looks to be light years better than it ever has before.

    • smurfy

      In the video Mike provided, one pitch looked like a faster-thrown sharp curve. Maybe it was just the chop of the video, but that looked effective.

  • Monterowasdinero

    I wouldn’t be so quick to say a 40 year old Andy will supplant Nova based on ST. My money is still on Nova and am still skeptical that Andy will be the old Andy.

    • fin

      What I worry about is that no matter what, once Andy says hes ready to go, he gets a rotation spot. Unless of course hes getting killed my minor leaguers. Which I really dont expect to happen. I really hope that if all goes well, the Yankees trade Garcia and Petite comes up and takes Garcia’s spot in the pen and as the 6th starter incase of injury.

      • RetroRob

        Zero chance Pettitte will be in the pen.

        If he doesn’t have it, he’ll go back off into retirement.

        He will have it.

        • Ted Nelson

          Thanks for reading Andy Pettitte’s mind and looking into the future to see his performance level for us!

          • DM

            I just read Andy’s mind.

            “If I can’t start, I can be this year’s Dave Robertson! Us 40 yr old, pitch to contact lefties, who need to warm up for a long time and can’t pitch 2 days in a row are perfect for the 8th inning setup role! Just hope my elbow holds up for all those gosh darn appearances.”

            • Ted Nelson

              Have you ever seen Pettitte pitch out of the pen for an extended period? Do you know how he would fair with a shorter warm-up? No. Why make totally useless comments? You make yourself look like a fool in trying to make me look like one. If he is healthy/durable enough to throw 180, 200 innings as a starter (if), there’s no way to prove he wouldn’t be able to pitch 50, 60 innings as a reliever.

              I was saying Robertson in terms of filling in for injuries to become a key, effective member of the pen. Not to make 70 appearances. Thanks for wasting my time by jumping to baseless conclusions, though.

              • DM

                “Have you ever seen Pettitte pitch out of the pen for an extended period?”

                No, b/c he’s been a starter for 17 yrs and he’s had elbow problems. That’s the point. If you knew any basics at all you would understand that it’s not just innings — it’s being available most days in the pen rather than the starters structured routine of rest, recovery and building back up to the next start.

                “I was saying Robertson in terms of filling in for injuries to become a key, effective member of the pen. Not to make 70 appearances. Thanks for wasting my time by jumping to baseless conclusions, though.”

                Hmmm… AP as reliever? Which guy in the pen comes to mind? Hmmm… DRob! Our elite strikeout 8th inning setup guy. I see the logic. Right. LOL. You can try to slip away with your waffling but I know you too well. You chose names with a purpose. Your first parallel between Wade and Garcia is plausible; doing the same with AP and DR is batshit. The only thing in common those two have is being pitchers for the Yankees. Saying “may be this season’s Robertson” is not the same as saying he could contribute in the pen in some way (like a long relief swing man — with ample rest in between — like a starter — if it came down to that).

                You remind me of those who call up radio shows and ask why they don’t start Rivera in a playoff game — or bring him in every game the second the starter is in trouble.

                Hmmm… If Mo retires maybe bring back Garcia to close? He could be next season’s Rivera. Hey, it could happen! Who’s to say?? Have you ever seen him close? Talk about useless commentary. Ugh. I’ll put this right next to Pineda’s “totally meaningless” yet somehow meaningful 8.1 innings comments — in the garbage.

  • The Bull

    How soon do we pull the plug if he’s scuffling again? The problem isnt the stuff. Its the head between the shoulders. How many more innings does he get? If Pettitte comes back and Nova is pitching better, dont they have to pull the plug on Hughes?

    • jsbrendog

      if hughes is struggling then most likely yes, at least tat is my guess

    • fin

      How is Hughes problem all in his head? You think it was his head, that casued his shoulder inflamation last year? The guy was clearly injured. Now, how good Hughes is can be debated, and I’m not sure hes that good, but I dont think its because hes a mental case. Injuries as much as anything have kept us from knowing what type of pitcher Hughes really is.

      • Rainbow Connection

        Clearly injured, but with no injuries. It’s not in his head either.
        He was out of shape. I don’t mean generally out of shape as in having a big belly, but his arm and strength were off.

    • Preston

      I don’t think we need to “pull the plug” on anyone. Hughes performance in ST has shown that he still has the stuff to be the guy that scouts thought he would be. Nova and Pineda both have a good year in MLB and it’s obvious that age and talent are on their side to having fine careers. If and when Pettitte is ready whoever is struggling the most should go to AAA to work out the kinks. They all have options. In all likelihood they’ll get called up again later in the year.

  • jsbrendog

    fingers crossed for hughes. I really want to see him do well. what the hell do the yankees do hen pettitte is ready if all 5 starters have been lights out and no one is hurt? jesus. i know it is a good problem to have but andy is kind of in the fredd garcia boat of well he won’t be around next year or going forward so can we really bump nova, hughes, or pineda if all 3 are pitching well?

    • Monterowasdinero

      Yes! Jesus.

      • jsbrendog

        he is gone. never to return. let him go

  • DM

    Hughes has passed the first test in that he looks much better than last ST. But I’m still suspicious of him maintaining his velocity and pitching a full slate of starter innings. And I’m not so sure about the “inflammation” and “injury” theory regarding his fall off last year. He might’ve been fried half way through the 2010 season, and just took him a full season to recover. I can’t pencil him in for 28-30 starts after last season. So, I think we’ll need that surplus that most everyone is so eager to trade away.

    • fin

      Well I think he was injured, I dont think they would shoot him with a cortezone shot otherwise. I also think he was fried in the second half of 2010 which lead to his injury last year. I agree that there is no reason to believe he is going to give the Yankees 28-30 starts, not just becasue of last year but becasue of his entire career to this point. If he hasnt been being shuffled back and forth from the pen, hes been hurt and when not hurt hes had mixed results. I’m not going to get too excited about trading away pitching surplus as 7 big league pitchers are alot to keep around. How many starts will the 7th guy actually get? How much better will those innings actually be than the Phelps/Warrens would give? I’m against keeping them all if it means that a good Nova gets sent to the minors for a 40yr old Petite.

      • DM

        Well, we can debate what constitutes injury — but I put tendonitis and inflammation as part of any pitcher’s shoulder over a few innings. My point was that you couldn’t point to some structural damage that caused the drop-off in mph. It’s the difference between saying he pitched poorly b/c he was hurt vs he can’t maintain shoulder strength over a season. A “tired” arm isn’t like finding an elbow chip or slight tear. And if you remember, it was a mystery in that they also thought he had some rare condition too — but after testing him they found nothing. I actually would’ve felt better if they found a chip in his elbow — as a concrete reason that could be easily fixed. I’m not sure why Phil is throwing harder now — but his history of losing his gas still worries me. A good changeup is nice, but it won’t work if your 4-seam fastball reverts to 89-90mph in the 5th inning after 85 pitches in your 4th start in April.

        • Ted Nelson

          I don’t see any value in guestimating about someone else’s health that you know next to nothing about.

          • DM

            Who cares what you see value in?

            No one knows concretely — and that’s my point. Phil’s season was written off in a nebulous whirlwind of this and that. Out of shape, inflammation and tests for one-in-a-million conditions, shut him down for a while, work on the side, etc, etc. And years ago it was the same with a tiny “hot spot” on an MRI of his rib — or he needs glasses b/c he can’t see the signs. That’s all theory and guesswork. Phil’s track record of performance outages has been riddled with “We’re not sure why but…” and Phil himself has saying “I wish I knew”. The only clear injury he’s had is a popped hamstring.

            • Bo Knows

              Were you in the Doctors office when he was checked out for the rib injury? Did you perform the test, or see the x-ray? My guess is no, so how can you assume that all of Phils injuries are part of a big conspiracy to coddle him? If the yankees actually believed and acted how you seem to think they did, didn’t they have they been so hesitant to trade him all these years?

              • DM

                Who said it was a conspiracy? Is the Phil Hughes-as-question-mark really a concept I just created? We don’t know why he hasn’t developed as expected. At times he looks like the guy everyone wanted him to be, other times he makes you scratch your head. I’ve heard Cashman, Girardi and Hughes all say at one time or another in regard to Phil’s problems some variant of “I don’t know”, “not sure why”. His rib thing was well documented, spoken about at length. This is NY — all parties involved were grilled over the details of that by the media.

                As far as trading him is concerned, he has been mentioned a few times. But more often than not his performance hurt his value. You don’t think the Yankees would entertain trading Hughes? Would you be shocked if they capitalized on him looking better and pulling the trigger before he hits a big arb award or free agency? His “untouchable” status evaporated long ago.

                And one more thing — if we’re gonna stop posting b/c we weren’t in the room, we’re not the doctor/coach/mgr/gm/scout etc etc etc etc, you may as well close down this board. There’s plenty of people who comment with incomplete knowledge. Maybe even you?

                • Ted Nelson

                  The point isn’t to stop posting. It’s to stop posting presumptuous drivel.

                  • DM

                    Do I need to bring up the “dynasty” ending comment again?

                    Or your everything and its opposite posts?

                    “Ted, what do you think the weather will be like tomorrow?”

                    “Well, it’s entirely somewhat possible that precipitation might occur in some amount to a certain unspecified degree. So, take an umbrella — or not — I’m mean you sort of should — but don’t — I mean it’s possible — but a decent chance that it’s somewhat unlikely.”

                    You’re really against drivel; I can tell from the origins of “velo” discussion you were having. LOL.

            • Ted Nelson

              I care what I find value in. This is a blog. I am expressing my opinion. You are really impossible to converse with.

              Stop making things up. You did not say that. You specifically said he was not injured: “Well, we can debate what constitutes injury — but I put tendonitis and inflammation as part of any pitcher’s shoulder over a few innings.”

              You can’t just write one thing, then act like you never wrote it. Doesn’t work. We can all go back and read what you wrote.

              • DM

                Then why do you continue to respond to my posts?

                Ignore me. Can you?

        • fin

          Only fans on a blog would wish there was structural damage injury that requires surgery rather than and injury that was cured with time and cortizone.

          • DM

            A tiny pebble in the area of the elbow ligament isn’t “structural damage” to said ligament. You remove it if it’s impeding motion. It’s an easy procedure and less painful than cortizone shots to the shoulder — which are hardly considered a “cure”. If it was that simple, we wouldn’t be monitoring Hughes and his velocity — b/c after all, the cortizone shot “cured” him. Those shots are an option as a temporary treatment – usually short-term to get a player through the season — not some automatic shoulder fixer.

            • fin

              He had a shoulder issue, so the odds of discovering a pebble in his elbow as part of the issue seems remote to me. Your statement that we couldnt point to some sort of sturctural damage as the issue, and therfore the injury being called into question is what lead me to make the statement. The guy has had injuries which have impeded his performance, possibly exasurbated by his conditioning last year. I sold medical imaging equipment for a living not long ago, and becasue something doesnt show up on an MRI,CT,Xray or Ultrasound, does not mean it doesnt exsist. What it means is that his specific injury did not show up.
              As it is I let my statment stand. Especially, considering it was a shoulder issue, not having some sort of structural damage and being able to treat his ailment with time and cortizone is a much more desirable outcome, than being able to say oh yea he was definately hurt, he had to have it rotator operated on. And you are incorrect, a shot of cortizone is perferable to any surgery. It may be more painful, but its far less risky than any surgery.

              • DM

                I used the pebble as an example of something concrete, I didn’t imply that I thought it was that.

                “What it means is that his specific injury did not show up.”

                And you’re making my point with your reference to it not showing up anywhere — hence the mystery. You drew a concrete line from inflammation in there, cort shot = cure. Maybe there is something else to it — or maybe there isn’t. Maybe Phil can’t throw hard and long. And how does his conditioning explain his 2010 second half?

                The point is that you’ve reached a definitive conclusion — complete with “cure” — that’s much less so based on what we actually know. And the comments of Hughes/Cashman/Girardi are also less definitive than yours.

                “And you are incorrect, a shot of cortizone is perferable to any surgery. It may be more painful, but its far less risky than any surgery.”

                Who said that? You’re dropping context. How many times has a player received multiple shots to avoid or delay some inevitable surgery? My point was about finding something conclusive. It’s not about what’s preferable in the moment; it’s about fixing the problem. You’ve reached a definitive conclusion that Phil has been cured with a cort shot after a few good radar gun readings in ST. I can’t say that with the certainty you seem to have — just like his healed rib didn’t fix anything — nor did his glasses or Posada’s extra bright finger nail polish.

                And if you remember, Hughes dropped to the lower end of the 1st round b/c of a similar issue — which is why he was handled so gingerly with innings and pitches in the minors. This isn’t new.
                (And Joba was a sandwich pick for a similar reason — tri tendonitis — hence the micro pitches/innings management)

                I appreciate your medical imaging experience – but I’ve been stuck and cut in both the elbow and shoulder more than once. I may know something too. Cort is no more a cure for these issues than Valium is a cure for insomnia.

                • Fin

                  I used the wrong word, cure, and corrected in the second comment with treated. There are plenty of ailments that doctors never definatively diagnose. Hughes shoulder issue as far as we know was never definatively diagnosed and shoulder inflamation was the generic term given to us, whether or not the Yankees knew exactly what it was we have no idea. They used a cortizone shot and rest to treat it and it seems to be healed thus far through ST.
                  As far as surgery goes, there is no such thing as a 100% safe surgery. Ask any doctor. Therefor, typically doctors will explore other options before surgery no matter how minor it may appear. Things that can go wrong range from bad surgery and infections, to death from anethesia. Infections are becoming as very serious issue after surgery, as bacteria continues to mutate and become increasingly resistant to our antibiotics.
                  One of the worst things about modern medicine is that people begin to think we have all the answers and when something cant be diagnosed through imaging or other procedures, the person becomes suspect as to whether or not they are injured. I take typically take peoples word that they are indeed injured when they say they are and the performance on field backs it up, even without a doctor being able to determine exactly what is causing the issue.
                  On a side note, you would be shocked at how many absolutely horrific doctors there are. Working in the medical field really opened my eyes. If you go to a random doctor you have a solid 30/40 percent chance of getting a doc you would want no where near you if you knew anything about his ability.

                  • DM

                    I know all about surgeries and doctors (including horrific ones), believe me — for serious stuff — and pitching stuff. I hurt my elbow throwing too many hard sliders as a youth (but those Ks were worth it, eh, not really) then changed my motion and repertoire completely and hurt my shoulder — then I pulled a Pat Venditte and started over with my other arm — then I hurt that elbow — went back to the other arm and became a junk baller who couldn’t break a pane of glass. Ironically, getting outs that way was much more fun than the hard slider — but I digress…

                    My only point regarding Hughes is that the cause of his problems have been less than clear cut. And he didn’t complain or say he was hurt. He was mystified too. I don’t wish him surgery; but I was hoping for a “a-ha! so that’s what’s wrong” moment to happen so it could be fixed. But there is such a thing as guy who can’t go long and hard. That’s all.

                    He might be like Javier Vazquez. I don’t think he was spooked by NY as much as being out of gas from the year before. His two biggest strikeout seasons and lowest ERAs were each before the years he came to the Yankees. He didn’t have the same stuff — maybe b/c of all those pitches he threw the season before? It wasn’t an injury — but I bet he had some tendonitis and/or inflammation in there like most pitchers do to some degree.

                    • fin

                      I just hope that they didnt discover that what ever issue he was having is a precurser to something seriously going wrong with his shoulder. If they did I doubt they would make it public. Hughes is a big horse of a guy, it doesnt seem logical that he has so much trouble pitching deep into games and keeping his velocity up, without a medical issue of some sort. I dont think he showed those tendancies coming up through the minors, or he wouldnt have been as highly thought of and probably moved to the pen permanantly at some point before he got to where he is now.

                    • DM

                      Hey, maybe the bullpen is the answer. The only time I saw him dominate with consistent 94-95mph heat was in short relief.

                      Also, he was a 5 inning pitcher in the minors. 85 pitches and out — never stretched into the deep water. Whether it’s injury or lack of endurance, there was some reason they did that. Also, he doesn’t have the best mechanics. Some pitchers throw very hard without trying to put extra on the ball; Phil isn’t free and easy with his motion; he pushes the ball sometimes.

      • Ted Nelson

        The thing is that no one knows how many innings the 7th starter will get. There’s no reason to make a decision now with incomplete information. There are a lot of factors that will influence the team’s response. I would bet they’re open to offers and would take a strong deal for any number of pitchers, but I don’t think that there’s much value to dealing someone in a deal they don’t love just in case everything works out.

        • Ted Nelson

          And the things that could go wrong aren’t just in the rotation, but also the bullpen. If anyone struggles maybe Garcia can step up as this season’s Wade or Pettitte as this season’s Robertson.

          • DM

            “Pettitte as this season’s Robertson.”


            I think the proponents of Pettitte as bullpen guy are ignoring his age, his ability to warm-up quickly and pitch in consecutive games. A long man like Garcia, maybe. But like Robertson??? An 8th inning guy who comes in to strike people out? No way.

            • Ted Nelson

              Clearly I did not mean Andy Pettitte will be Robertson and strike out 15/9 suddenly. I meant that he could be the guy who emerges if some things don’t go well and provide a top flight arm in the pen.

              You don’t know if his arm would hold up or he’d be effective any more than anyone else. Feel free to disagree, but being a dick and acting like you know more than everyone about uncertain, theoretical future events is unnecessary.

              • DM

                “but being a dick and acting like you know more than everyone about uncertain, theoretical future events is unnecessary.”

                I guess you would know.

        • fin

          I dont think anyone is saying to make a decision now, but if everyone is healthy and pitching well in a month or so a decision is going to have to be made. They arent just going to leave Petite on the minor league traveling team or the AA team. Having all of your pitchers healthy a month into the season is not some sort of extreme long shot. Discussing what they do under those circumstances seems reasonable to me.
          Becasue of the time frame that Petite will be ready, there is a good chance they are going to have to trade Garcia or send down a young pitcher.

    • BeanTooth

      No doubt. If you look at the seven starters, only CC and Kuroda can really be expected to throw 30 effective starts. Pettitte is old and likely to get injured or be ineffective. Nova, despite last year, is still far from a sure thing. Hughes is Hughes. Garcia is aging and always on the edge of extreme ineffectiveness. And Pineda is both young and still evolving. Chances are good we’ll see not only all seven start this year, but a few of the AAA boys as well.

      • jsbrendog

        if pettitte iss old and likely to get injured or be ineffective than by that logic so is kuroda. there is still only one SURE thing and that be cc

        • DM

          I buy that too. I like Kuroda in that in he knows how to pitch — but he’s gotten overlooked here. We still don’t know if he’ll pass the NL-West-to-AL-East-in-NY test. I could see him losing starts to better options as well. He might be guaranteed to start the season as the number 2 — but it’s hardly a lock to finish that way — esp with only a 1 yr deal.

        • gageagainstthemachine

          Off the top of my head:
          1) War Admiral beating was a sure thing (see: Seabiscuit)
          2) UNLV undefeated in 1991 going into the NCAA tourney was a sure thing to win the men’s basketball title (see: Duke)
          As much as I love CC, and he’s the closest thing to a sure thing in the Yankees rotation, there’s no such thing as a “sure thing”. Anything can happen, but it’s definitely least likely to happen to him. On that, I will agree with you.

  • Mike HC

    I think Phil is in good shape this year. Expectations have been lowered, and he just needs to be solid to be considered a success. The ace like expectations are done, and should help Hughes in the long run.

  • Alkaline

    Question: What happens to Andy if he’s pitching well come May/June, yet rotation consisting of Nova, Pin, Hughes, CC, and Hirok are all pitching well?

    • gageagainstthemachine

      Six Man Rotation!


      • Alkaline

        Only for one week of course, right?

    • Mike Axisa

      We celebrate.

      • fin

        I dont get this statement. Really, if 5 guys are healthy and pitching well a month into the season its casue for celebration? I know pitchers get hurt and you need a lot of them, but we arent talking about a full 162 game season before a decision is going to have to come. We are talking about a month into the season. Sure someone could get injured or completely suck, but I dont think that is some sort of likely scenario with this staff. I think its more likely you have 5 guys healthy and at least effective if not pitching “well” after 4 or 5 starts.

        Even if you have a pitching staff catasrophe like the Sox last year and loose 3 of your starters for the year, that probably doesnt happen in the first month of the season. More than likely a decision regarding trades/demotions will have been made before anything like that takes place.

        While discussing this scenario may not be the best baseball topic around, its all we got. Its better than the Pindea topics, its more relevant to the success of the team than the Ibanez issue, and its hard to get excited about the 25th man, last guy out of the BP question. Its what we get when there are no real issues going into the season with Yankees.

        • Preston

          Recent history would tend to show the opposite. Hughes last year, Vazquez in 2010 and Wang in 2009 all struggled right out of the gate and in all cases injury was probably part of the problem.

        • Ted Nelson

          I would celebrate not because it’s wildly unlikely, but because it’s a great problem to have. You’re dealing from a position of strength. It might be more convenient to have a decision made for you because someone gets hurt or stinks, but it’s not preferable.

          The reason I’m not interested in discussing it too much is the number of unknown variables: who is healthy, exactly how effective is everyone (AAA pitchers for those two as well as MLB… since 3 guys can be send down if a AAA guy is hurt or needs a demotion… or conversely if he’s brought up for the Noesi treatment), exactly what trade options are out there, who is willing to pitch out of the pen, who can succeed out of the pen… those are all the questions I’d ask, and I don’t have a real answer to any of them. So all I can really do is list options without much weight on any one option.

  • CS Yankee

    My guess is that after the 2010 season Phil relaxed in the off-season to get some rest versus hitting the gym and working on the core (much like CC, Joba, etc). He tried to ramp up and come ST and the shoulder barked back, thus the lost year. He fully committed to a specific program and is looking really good.

    CC is the exception (much like Wells) whereas he can get away with it, maybe Pineda has the same thoughts and his talent (like CC) can overcome the leasure. Nova & Pettitte seem quite fit.

    This is where Pettitte can inspire and is a good role model as he is in great shape already. Having him around the young players can only help as it changes the envirnoment quite a bit. I know when I’m around my friends who hit the gym it changes my habits a great deal.

  • Jesse

    I’ve believed in Phil Hughes from day one and I think he can be a quality number 3 starter or even pitch like a number 2 starter especially if his change-up becomes a legit pitch. One thing I’ve also noticed is that his fastball has a little two-seam movement on it which is good so he can generate some more ground balls. If he can pitch like this for a full season it’d be a huge plus for this team. Here’s to a big 2012 season for Phil Hughes.

  • Naved

    If I have to see the word rigged one more time on this site….

  • noseeum

    It’s not a mystery. Hughes had a huge jump in innings from 2009 to 2010, and he suffered for it in 2011. This has happened to countless pitchers before. Ever heard of Cole Hamels? We’ll finally find out who this guy is in 2012.

    • DM

      “We’ll finally find out who this guy is in 2012”

      Good or bad, we need to. A financial issue is on the horizon.

      • Tom

        It’s also important to figure out what guys like he and Nova are as at some point soon (back of the rotation, mid rotation, bullpen) as the Yankees will have to figure out to do with the Warren/Phelps/Mitchell’s of the world… do they get a shot, does one or more of them head to the bullpen, do they get put in a package and dealt.

        The one issue on the horizon – 3 of the 4 high leverage bullpen arms are not under contract/team control beyond 2013 (Mo, Soriano, Joba) leaving basically Roberston as the only back end reliever(I don’t consider Logan or Wade back end of the bullpen guys). While there are guys like Kontos and possibly Betances, at some point soon the Yankees should think about what they did with Robertson…. start sticking some of these guys in the “6th inning”/low leverage role and seeing if they can be a viable back end of the bullpen arm down the line. The transition for a young guy is not always instant (Clippard, Melancolm), and the Yankees will need some cheap bullpen arms if they are serious about 189mil.

        This is another reason why I do not like the 2 LOOGY approach… I’d rather start seeding guys like Kontos into that last spot and see what you have rather than have two lefty matchup guys to manage multiple matchup situations so Girardi has his crutch. Are there really going to be two critical lefty matchup situations prior to the 7th inning (when the formula kicks in)in many regular season games?

        • DM

          I pretty much agree with everything. But I think there’s some interesting setup-type guys in the pipeline too. Whitley and Montgomery could come quickly. Although I wasn’t overly impressed with Whitley this ST. And I was hoping Kontos would get a longer look this ST — but you can’t make the team if you’re not healthy enough to pitch.

          And don’t remind me of Clippard, I hated that trade. They gave him away for a AAAA reliever.

  • smurfy

    “The fifth starter competition is apparently rigged in Hughes’ favor, just like it was two years ago.” You J-blowers (the opposite camp to the B-jobbers) will never get over that. And looky here, he found the changeup.