• April 13th @ The Red Sox

    Posted by on April 13th, 2008 · Comments (9)

    This is now two really bad starts in a row for Phil Hughes.

    Whether Hughes was too amped up in the first, or, if it was just a meltdown thing (see the bad pitch-out and the cross-ups), the result was the same: 39 pitches for that one frame is just flat out ugly.

    Actually, truth be told, I was very impressed when Hughes returned the next inning and only needed 11 pitches in the second. When that happened, I thought “Hey, there’s a chance that he might rebound here and actually give the team four or maybe five innings tonight.” But, then came the third inning – where Hughes was done for good…just 15 pitches into it.

    Next Friday night will now be a big start now for Hughes. He needs to show a better effort in that one, against the O’s.

    If Hughes is unable to give the Yankees a decent start more than half the time he pitches, New York will have to begin to consider a point where it’s time to ponder other options – just as they will for Ian Kennedy if he continues to struggle as well.

    Presently, the next great Yankees pitching prospect, Alan Horne, is injured. This means the pool of potential replacement starters at Triple-A is down to Darrell Rasner, Steven White, Jeffrey Marquez, and Kei Igawa.

    Marquez and White, to date, have been pitching poorly at Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Rasner and Igawa have both done well in their first two starts there – but we’ve seen what major league hitters can do to them.

    Brass tacks, there’s no net here. If Hughes and Kennedy cannot consistently do the job, the Yankees, and their season, could be toast.

    Sure, it’s been bad weather and the Yankees have been facing good teams and hot teams in their first 13 games this year. Personally, I see these things as just being excuses. You’re going to face bad weather and good/hot teams in October. So, what’s the difference about facing them in April?

    And, yes, I know that this “BF<=15 and ER>=6″ game result tonight from Hughes and the “BF<=15 and ER>=6″ game result from Kennedy on April 4th have come just as we’re barely into the season. Additionally, I know that Andy Pettitte, in his Yankees career, has posted 5 games where he’s pulled the “BF<=15 and ER>=6″ trick – including this turkey as a 23-year old in his 18th career start – and Andy’s career has lived to tell.

    So, yes, the last two games for Hughes – and Kennedy as well – should not be taken as a lock that they will continue to fail more often than not and will need to be replaced in the rotation.

    But, you cannot ignore the last two games for Hughes and Kennedy and just write them off…especially if they continue to struggle.

    It’s a big night for Kennedy tomorrow and a big night for Hughes on April 18th. Hopefully, they’ll both start to pitch better than we’ve seen lately.

    Comments on April 13th @ The Red Sox

    1. Rich
      April 14th, 2008 | 1:00 am

      What, no mention of Hughes’s decreased velocity when he was sitting at 93 for most of last night?

      I’m not worried about Hughes. His command was off, but the homeplate ump squeezed him too.

    2. Zack
      April 14th, 2008 | 1:10 am

      Yeah, the funny thing is, Hughes “stuff” was the best tonight that it has been. FB had all sorts of jump and movement (too much!) and the curve had some crazy bite to it.

      The problem was that he had NO control whatsoever. And because of that, he fell behind a lot, got into bad counts, and had to go to the curve a few too many times and fatter FBs.

      And so, once again, the importance of control over other things is paramount and clear. Hughes’s success has so much less to do with whether he is throwing 93-94, like he was tonight vs. 90-91, as it does with whether he can spot his fastball, which has did in the first game and hasn’t since. Hughes MUST regain his control in order to be successful, period. That has me worried, but not overly so right now. If by the end of May he hasn’t gotten it together, then maybe a month in the minors to rework things out might be needed. But its still only 3 starts into the season. Look at Verlander, yuck…

    3. baileywalk
      April 14th, 2008 | 2:59 am

      I always have this image in my head of Steve sitting with a big grin on his face every time Hughes struggles. That’s sad.

      I agree with Rich — the strikezone was ridiculous in that first inning. He threw a pitch right down the middle to Ellsbury that got called a ball. He got squeezed. He also wasn’t helped out by Molina throwing the ball away, Damon’s pitifully weak arm (please keep this man out of centerfield) and two crossups.

      But like Zack said, his “stuff” looked amazing. He was blowing his fastball by Manny. He just got cooked in that first inning and never really got it together.

      Ohlendorf continues to look good, too, but he has to start to stall those inherited runners.

      Dice-K wasn’t sharp at all — which made it all the more annoying when A-Rod swung at the first pitch and grounded into a double play in the first.

      A-Rod seems to be back to 2006 A-Rod. Throw him anything hard and he can’t touch it. He’s not getting around on hard stuff at all.

      Maybe I have the infamous “Yankee blinders” on that Steve talks about, but watching Hughes today was a lot like when I first saw him live in Trenton. I thought to myself, “Holy shit, this kid has the potential to be effin’ great.” Here he is just two years later in the big leagues. It still looks to me like he can be great. He’s had some bad luck and some poor control. But everything is still in place. I guess it’s hard to keep in mind he’s just 21 and the youngest pitcher in the league. If you want to bash the Yanks for needing him so much this year, fine, but you can’t blame him…

    4. gphunt
      April 14th, 2008 | 8:00 am

      Hughes had some location trouble tonight, but I guess that’s what you are going to see from a 21 year old pitcher in the major leagues…His fastball was great and his curve had all sorts of bite, but he couldn’t get anyone to swing at it. I think this is where Hughes needs that change up or something with some sink to induce a ground ball.

      I’m more sick of Jason Giambi. I know he had a homer off of a 42 year old relief pitcher, but I think he’s lost all sorts of bat speed and it’s the only fastball he can catch up to. And I was encouraged in ST when for the entire month all we heard about was Giambi going the opposite way with the ball, getting back to basics, working hard in the cage to not get pull happy. How many times have they used the shift on him this year and he’s done nothing but hit into it? I’ve seen him in the past take the ball down the 3rd base line on the shift..he can do it.

      And the more devastating news is Molina going down with an injury just in time for the speed happy Rays. Super. Great start to the season.

    5. Greek
      April 14th, 2008 | 8:00 am

      Steve,
      Its quite clear thanks to your questions directed to some excellent resources about Phil Hughes, Pags had without a doubt the best analysis, description, and projection of him.

      I was in the middle with my prior opinion of which expert had him pegged but clearly Hughes’ explanation and reporting was broken down best by Pags, even better than the cloudy unanswered rebuilding responses from the Yankees own GM and his cronies.

      Does this situation bring into focus any development issues related to the Yankees quality of experts, because this rebuilding effort isn’t looking so good?

      We always want trust the organization and many times we’re fooled by that brigtht shiny prospect front offices throw in front of us right when they jack up ticket prices. I feel you are working on the truth, and I keep coming back here for that reason.

      Is there any way you could ask more questions to the “higher ups” as you put it, to describe player development? Projecting prospects can’t be easy but then again the organizations pay their front office staff millions to produce – I don’t see the production!

      thanks Greek

    6. MJ
      April 14th, 2008 | 8:52 am

      If Hughes is unable to give the Yankees a decent start more than half the time he pitches, New York will have to begin to consider a point where it’s time to ponder other options – just as they will for Ian Kennedy if he continues to struggle as well.
      ========================================
      After three starts — or four, if you’re going to start “considering” othter options with one more bad start — you’re already ready to start closing the book on Hughes/Kennedy? It’s April! Check Roy Oswalt’s numbers on the year. They’re not pretty but I’m sure he’s not on the brink of being replaced in the rotation.

      I’m not saying Hughes/Kennedy will ever be Roy Oswalt, I’m simply saying that you can’t start considering other options until NEXT YEAR OR 2010! You didn’t hang onto these kids just to start thinking about other options. You stay with them, let them grow and mature, and then decide if they stink after they’ve had a chance. What are you going to do with Phil? Convert him into a reliever just four starts into 2008?

    7. Joel
      April 14th, 2008 | 9:07 am

      Let’s not sugarcoat it–Hughes flat out stunk last night.

      I don’t care what the radar gun said, or how much bite his curveball had. The guy could not command the strike zone and got hit hard. Everything was 3-2. It was a Jaret Wright performance, right down to his wearing that hideous #34.

      And BTW, where is his third pitch? Does he have a third pitch? Good–but not great–hitters like Youkilis and Casey were able to sit on his fastball and smoked him.

    8. Rich
      April 14th, 2008 | 12:22 pm

      Hughes isn’t throwing his two seamer enough. When you add that to his four seamer and his curve, that’s three. We are hardly seeing the change and slider at all.

      If the offense wasn’t so bad, I think we would be viewing everything through a different prism. They could have swept the series with some timely hitting.

    9. antone
      April 14th, 2008 | 2:18 pm

      I thought Hughes had the most life on his fastball and break on his curve so far this season too. He definitely had no command though.

      I thought it was weird that Youkalis and Casey turned on those pitches so easily, almost like they knew they were coming.

      Didn’t like ARod swinging at the first pitch after Dice-K had already walked two guys in the inning.

      My biggest issue was why wasn’t Damon bunting with runners on first and third and no outs and we were down 2 runs? He bunts them over and you have the tying run in scoring position with one out. All you need is a single. Not to mention Damon can’t hit worth a lick right now.

      I thought the Yankees would be playing differently under Girardi but right now I don’t see it at all.

      Apparently the only player worse than Giambi right now is Mike Timlin because Giambi looks horrible against everyone else.

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