From Joel Sherman today -
Brian Cashman better be right. Phil Hughes better be special. Not good. Special.
Because if Hughes is just another pitcher, dependable but not dominant, then he might find himself spending his time in New York hearing who he is not – namely, that he is not Johan Santana.
And Cashman will soon be the ex-GM of the Yankees.
Let’s put it this way: If Johan Santana is 10-2 in June and Hughes is on the DL again or back at Triple-A or explaining the growing pains that have led to his 4-6 record and 4.87 ERA, then you can expect few Yankee fans to still be on the bandwagon about entrusting young pitchers.
And you can expect Hank Steinbrenner to be Bossy. You can expect Son of Slam to be channeling his father with a hailstorm of “I told you so.”
Cashman won a power struggle that  offseason and gained a three-year extension based on a plan to protect touted arms already in the organization, such as Hughes, and find more in the draft and internationally such as Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain.
It was absolutely the right path. But it misses a fact about the arms the Yanks had chased recently. This has been a group that has been too old (Johnson, Kevin Brown, Roger Clemens last year) or full of too much guesswork/projection (Jose Contreras, Javier Vazquez, Jeff Weaver, Pavano). Santana is a prime-age ace. He is great. No guesswork. As an executive from another club said, “If I had to gamble on one pitcher to be great the next six years, I would bet on Santana.”
Cashman did not want to make that bet, not at the cost of Hughes and a contract that would swell the payroll to about $230M, tie them to a starter for seven years.
However, that three-year contract Cashman signed ends after this year. That ties his administration – his survival in the job – more to these young pitchers, Hughes in particular, than ever before. Hank Steinbrenner already is offering “make the playoffs or else” proclamations. Again, imagine Santana on a Cy Young track in Flushing, and Hughes on the Scranton shuttle from The Bronx.
Man, that’s a lotta pressure to put on a 22-year old kid. But, Sherman has a point – if Santana has a Cy Young season in Queens this year and Hughes takes a step backwards, Cashman is going to hear it.