Hughes not as good as we believed?

RAB favorite Keith Law has a new blog post today. And guess what? It has to do with Phil Hughes!

It’s not what you think, though. He wasn’t as impressed as us, claiming that the 21-year-old’s curveball didn’t have much bite, that he didn’t use his slider enough, and that his 89-93 mph fastball just isn’t going to cut it. He does make one concession:

Why is Hughes’ stuff down? One possibility is that his left leg is still causing him trouble…it looked like he was babying that leg rather than landing firmly and pushing off that leg as he drives through his delivery.

I always wondered why some guys don’t use their plant leg to generate more force on the ball. I guess it’s what works for them, but if what works for Hughes is the use of his plant leg, it could certainly explain his disappointing outings. I’d love to verify this through video, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to find a third-base-side shot from last year. The archives probably have a side-view shot of him during the Texas game, so if I come upon some time I’ll take a look.

Update by Ben: I want to add something here. I watched last night’s game from the third base side of the Tier Boxes, and I tried to pay attention to Hughes’ leg kick and delivery. He definitely has shortened his stride since the Texas outing, and I don’t think he’s generating enough power from his legs as he should.

As for the “why” bit of this, I think he’s tentative. He’s still concerned that he’ll pop his hamstring if he takes a long stride and really drives forward on his legs. As Joe said to me earlier today, what 21 year old hasn’t had some confidence issues? We can all relate.

For Hughes, I would expect a few more good starts and an eventual off-season of rest and healing to restore his confidence. I liked what I saw yesterday; he went about establishing the location on his fastball in the best fashion I’ve seen since the Texas game. But he is 21, and he will struggle. It may be the leg kick; it may be growing pains. But he’s still Phil Hughes, and he’s going to be huge.

2007 Minor League Awards

So there we have it, another riveting season of minor league baseball is in the books. It’s great to look at the affiliate rosters and see the number of older, non-prospect roster-filler types going down, especially in the pitching department. The number of guys that exceeded expectations this year is far greater than the number of guys that underperformed, the polar opposite of recent years.

Yankee farmhands were named the Eastern League & Florida State League Pitchers of the Year, Scranton manager Dave Miley took home International League Manager of Year honors, and countless Yankee prospects were named to their league’s year end All-Star club. Eleven total players have made their Major League debut for the Yankees this year (so far), 9 of which were direct products of the farm system.

Keep in mind that this isn’t some kind of best prospect list, it’s a recognition of the guys who had great years, regardless of prospect status. In an effort to keep things fresh, I deemed the guy who won the Player of the Year Award ineligible for the Pitcher/Hitter of the Year Awards.

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A-Rod blasts two as Mariners use every pitcher in baseball

That was a fantastic game for the Yanks and a fun one to witness in person. A-Rod, playing with a sprained ankle, blasted two home runs in one inning as the Yanks sealed a series victory against the Mariners. With the wild card lead at 3 games with 22 left to play, the Yanks control their fate. Overlooked in the game will be Phil Hughes. He was fantastic. More on that tomorrow. Meanwhile, the line of the night goes to Peter Abraham in this post:

Somebody tell the Mariners that just because they have all those pitchers doesn’t mean they have to use them.

And on that note, I’m off to bed, dreaming of an October berth within reach.

Trenton masters “The Master”…again

If the Yanks put IPK on the playoff roster, he might have to change his wedding date. Great quote by Torre on ths situation:

“I didn’t get one of the invitations,” he [Torre] said. “We just hope his prospective wife is very understanding.”

IPK said he has to talk to his fiancee before offering an opinion on the matter. (that’s a marriage joke, haha)

Oh, and sweeeeet

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 loss to Richmond) Richmond leads the best-of-five series 1-0
Brett Gardner, Andy Cannizaro & Juan Francia: all 2 for 4 – Gardner doubled, walked & got picked off first…Francia drove a run in
Bronson Sardinha: 1 for 2, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BB
Eric Duncan: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 K – 12 hits & 10 RBI in his last 10 games
rest of lineup: combined 0 for 16, 2 K
Steven White: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2 HB, 10-6 GB/FB – pitched good enough to win
Charlie Manning: 2.1 IP, zeroes, 2 K

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Game 140: Phil of the Future faces Seattle

How can there be just 23 games left? Didn’t the season just start last week? I remember opening day so vividly. Sitting in the bleachers on a cool, cloudy April day, we gave Carl Pavano a big hand, and Alex Rodriguez blasted the first of his 46 home runs late in the game.

Things fell apart for a while, but here we are at game 140. The Yanks are 77-62 with the fourth best record in the American League. They are clinging to a two-game lead in the Wild Card with a chance to open up some distance tonight.

Phil Hughes, who has spent the last few days working with Dave Eiland, is due for a big start. Since coming off the DL, Hughes is 1-2 with a 6.40 ERA in 32.1 innings. I’m impressed with his 8.1 K/9 IP in that span but dismayed by his 4.2 BB/9 IP. I haven’t been too happy with the way Jorge Posada has called his games either.

So tonight is a big one for Hughes. The Yanks don’t know when – or even if – Roger Clemens will return to the rotation, and the team needs a starter other than Andy Pettitte or Chien-Ming Wang to turn in some consistent outings.

The Mariners, losers of 10 of their last 11, counter with Jarrod Washburn. The lefty has thrown well against the Yanks in his career. It could be a battle tonight, but we’ve got our number one bullet – Joba Chamberlain – itchin’ to pitch. Somehow, Joe Torre has avoided getting him into a game since Wednesday which is just swell.


Johnny Damon LF
Melky Cabrera CF
Derek Jeter SS
Alex Rodriguez 3B – He went for an MRI on his ankle this afternoon.
Jorge Posada DH – MVP! MVP!
Shelley Duncan RF – If he hits, Giambi sits.
Robinson Cano 2B
Wilson Betemit 1B
Hava Molina C – On Saturday, the Yankee Stadium scoreboard announcer played the Hebrew folk song “Hava Nagila” when Molina came up. I’m sure Jose had no idea what was going on. Hence the new nickname.

Phil Hughes P

Take NJ Transit to the Meadowlands

A bit of sports-but-not-baseball self-promotion, if you don’t mind: Today marks the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new stadium in New Jersey that will house the Jets and Giants. The Stadium, set to open in 2010, will house 82,000. But more important is the New Jersey Transit station sitting right next to the stadium, and that means no more driving through traffic to get to football games.