• April 29th vs. The Tigers

    Posted by on April 29th, 2008 · Comments (23)

    Just another one of those games where the Yankees were trailing at the start of the 5th inning and they went on to lose the contest.

    Actually, what was most interesting about this game was listening to John Flaherty and Al Leiter, on the YES coverage, go to town about how Phil Hughes’ 89-92 MPH fastball was straight with little movement, and, that, along with just a curve was not enough to retire big league batters on a consistent basis. I believe Leiter referred to Hughes’ fastball as being a ‘hittable speed.’ (The two also went on to talk about how Hughes needs to feature – or even just show – a slider or change-up on a more regular basis to be more effective.)

    Actually, what Flaherty and Leiter were saying today ties right into David Cone’s point on Hughes the other day – that after the line-up sees him once, they pretty much have him sized up.

    I know that many Yankees fans will want to blame Hughes’ game today on Chris Stewart – noting all the cross-ups, etc. But, for what it’s worth, Hughes crossed up Molina too during his third start of this season. Being that it’s two different catchers here and the same pitcher, it’s more likely that it’s the pitcher at fault. Either Hughes can’t keep up with the signs, he’s not concentrating out there, or he needs glasses.

    In any event, back to the Flaherty and Leiter commentary, they’ve really set Hughes up for a fun week. (Probably for Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi too.) Expect to hear lots of talk and read lots of features over the next few days – debating if it makes sense or not to send Hughes down to Triple-A to refine and learn to use a third (and maybe fourth) pitch.

    And, if Hank Stein was tuned into YES this evening, he may pick up on this as well.

    Comments on April 29th vs. The Tigers

    1. baileywalk
      April 29th, 2008 | 11:15 pm

      I guess you missed the part where Ross Ohlendorf also got crossed up with Stewart. Two pitchers, same catch — so I would say Stewart was at fault.

      Listen, I’m not suggesting that I know more about the game of baseball than Joe Girardi, and he has forgotten more than I know, blah, blah, blah, but…

      He makes some weird decisions. As we saw tonight: he rests his 24-year-old centerfielder and puts in Damon, a left facing a lefty, when it’s obvious Damon now has the range and arm strength of a 95-year-old woman. Damon’s lack of range and pee-wee arm came into play in the very first inning, when they cost the team two runs.

      And it’s not an excuse for Phil, but why is Joe having this guy that Phil has never even met catch him? I think Phil has enough on his mind that he shouldn’t have to worry about dealing with a new catcher. He doesn’t know the guy, he’s never thrown to him, the guy probably only found out that day what he throws and when he likes to throw it… I just don’t get why he’s catching Hughes when he could have started tomorrow and caught a guy who’s going to call his own game (Pettitte). I think it was a really poor choice and it hurt the team. And since Hughes shook Stewart off once the entire night, I would say he had plenty to do with the lack of changes and sliders.

      Speaking of the broadcasters… this was probably the worse game of the year to listen to. Kay was at his melodramatic worst, John wouldn’t shut the hell up about the backup catcher (no one kisses more backup catcher butt than John) and Leiter — well, I couldn’t hear what he had to say, since he speaks so low the mike doesn’t catch it.

      Phil has plenty of fastball to get by. I hope that debate doesn’t re-erupt. His change is good, and the slider isn’t bad either. Maybe if he wasn’t working with a catcher he met that morning we would have seen more of them.

    2. baileywalk
      April 29th, 2008 | 11:21 pm

      Shockingly, Pete Abraham had a really good point:

      “Phil Hughes has started six games this season. His catchers:

      April 3: Molina
      April 8: Posada
      April 13: Molina
      April 18: Moeller
      April 24: Molina
      April 29: Stewart

      Six games, four catchers. It’s not an excuse, clearly Hughes has to pitch better than he has. But I would imagine it’s hard to get in synch (sic) when you haven’t been caught by the same guy for two games in a row.”

      Also, A-Rod had been DL’d. That’s just great.

      This offense absolutely sucks as it is. Now the one power threat is gone. Oh, joy.

      Cashman also apparently suggested Phil might not make his next start. I’m not sure how you justify sending down Hughes and keeping Kennedy up. They’ve both been equally bad, and Hughes certainly has the superior stuff.

    3. RollingWave
      April 30th, 2008 | 2:13 am

      game day had him at 91-92 with quiet a few 93 and a 94 today.

      I don’t think the pitches themself are the issue. the issue is the pitch selection and approach he takes along with the consistency and mental aspect here.

      Though I should just stop even debating with your comments on Hughes, as you have been constantly trying to hint into him being some sort of scrub for the last 6 month now.

    4. April 30th, 2008 | 2:13 am

      ^ and what you’ll notice is that Hughes hasn’t had the same catcher in consecutive games all year. i’m not excusing him but it might help to do that.

      on his velocity, the YES gun is wrong. Gameday seems like the most consistent gun out there and it had Hughes at 89-94, mostly 91-92.

    5. Don
      April 30th, 2008 | 2:41 am

      If the fastball is straight, whatever the velocity, Hughes is sunk as a starter. Farnsworth throws much harder, but also straight, you see the results.

      I would keep Hughes and Kennedy in the rotation through May and see how they do. This is not a WS contending team, regardless.

    6. gphunt
      April 30th, 2008 | 7:40 am

      This is what I don’t get. Hughes has a damn good slider. When he came out of high school it was already a major league pitch per the scouts. He scrapped it due to the stress on an 18 year old arm and picked up the curve. Why doesn’t he break the slider out more? You know it’s stil there.

    7. Joel
      April 30th, 2008 | 8:20 am

      Well folks, we have officially arrived at the “growth process” stage of things. We were all told that this would be coming.

      First, we are now “growing” with our young manager, who puts Hughes with a brand new catcher in his most important start to date. And then, to add insult to injury, puts Damon in CF when he no longer has any business being there.

      And of course, we are “growing” with our new young pitchers–who have yet to show they can consistently get through a major league lineup twice in one game.

      So, for those of you who banished the likes of Joe Torre, Johan Santana and even A-Rod out of pinstripes, I hope you are all enjoying this “growth.”

      Steve, at this point I’d settle for Andy Benes in a heartbeat.

    8. MJ
      April 30th, 2008 | 8:36 am

      So, for those of you who banished the likes of Joe Torre, Johan Santana and even A-Rod out of pinstripes, I hope you are all enjoying this “growth.”
      I’m not even sure what that all means.

      -The fans didn’t banish Joe Torre, ownership and Brian Cashman did. And after an incredibly successful yet recently unfulfilling 12 year run. It was time. No job is a lifetime appointment. Even Torre himself said that maybe he was getting stale…

      -No one debated the fact that Johan Santana was the best pitcher in baseball. But if you look at what it would’ve cost the Yanks vs. what it cost the Mets, I don’t think that trade made any sense. The Mets got the best deal and took advantage of a situation where the Twins really didn’t want to send Santana to an AL rival and thus commanded a much higher price from New York/Boston.

      -A-Rod was banished? Oh, you mean in 10 years from now, right?

      Phil Hughes’s problem isn’t one of velocity, it’s one of command and control. Leiter touched on it in the third inning where he said Hughes’s mechanics were off and he wasn’t driving towards home plate. That’s why his fastballs were all over the place. Beyond that, the pitch selection was atrocious. He started every hitter off with a first-pitch curveball in the third inning.

      Of course Girardi’s decision to put in the no-defense team didn’t help, nor did the choice of catcher (Stewart won’t last more than a week on this team and I’m sure the search for a more suitable backup is now underway). But none of this excuses the fact that, right now, Hughes is just not a very good major league pitcher. He’s only shown two pitches and he doesn’t pound the strike zone so no hitter has to respect him. We don’t know how the story will end for him but right now he looks terrible.

      My question is for Dave Eiland: ok, genius, what are you waiting for? This is a guy who had more than two pitches in the minors. Where’d the other ones go? Eiland was hired at the big league level as a reward for getting the kids up to the majors so fast. So far, he’s done nothing to show that he belongs. Guidry and Mel would’ve been hung in effigy by now. Where’s the outrage at the job Eiland’s doing with his proteges?

    9. Rich
      April 30th, 2008 | 8:53 am

      It may be time to call in Nardi for a consult.

    10. April 30th, 2008 | 8:58 am

      FYI, on the cross-ups, again, you can blame Stewart if you want, but, go to the YES Network site and look at the Girardi post-game video.

      Girardi clearly says “Phil has a hard time seeing the signs at night.”

      Therefore, the fault on the cross-ups is, indeed, Hughes’ eye-sight.

    11. April 30th, 2008 | 9:17 am

      Further…I just saw this report:

      Hughes says he has had his eyes checked several times recently and while he has “above-average” eyesight, he experiences some blurriness during night games in certain stadiums because of the glare from the lights.

    12. Joel
      April 30th, 2008 | 9:23 am

      MJ–I guess I must have been dreaming.

      Was there not a significant segment of the blogosphere (including many commentators on this site) who wanted Torre gone, A-Rod not re-signed, and Santana not acquired for Hughes and Melky?

    13. gphunt
      April 30th, 2008 | 9:23 am

      HOLY CRAP! We have the second coming of Wild Thing Rick Vaughn….I wish it were only that simple.

    14. baileywalk
      April 30th, 2008 | 12:18 pm

      I’ll repeat: I guess Ohlendorf has the same night-blindness then. Because not only did he get crossed up too, but it was also while no one was on base. If pitchers and catchers are getting crossed up while no one is on base, then the catcher is putting down signs in a way that the pitcher can’t completely see all of his fingers. That’s the only plausible explanation — and that’s the catcher’s fault.

      And a second repeat: putting a young, struggling pitcher like Hughes with Stewart was just plain dumb.

    15. April 30th, 2008 | 12:47 pm

      baileywalk – maybe you should have your vision checked too? 😉 Girardi – AND HUGHES HIMSELF – are saying the blame is on Hughes because he cannot see the signs at night. And, yet, you want to blame the catcher. Really?

    16. MJ
      April 30th, 2008 | 1:35 pm

      A question regarding the catching situation:

      According to MLB.com’s transaction register (http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/transactions/index.jsp) there have been no further transactions involving Chad Moeller. What is the rule about DFA’ing someone and then bringing them back? If he’s still not claimed, are the Yanks not able to bring him back to the team? Whatever Moeller isn’t, he’s certainly better than Stewart.

      I don’t care if it was Hughes’s fault, Ohlendorf’s fault, or Stewart’s fault last night, he’s just not worth keeping around. Moeller played acceptably and that should give him the benefit of the doubt over this Stewart P.O.S.

    17. baileywalk
      April 30th, 2008 | 1:54 pm

      That’s fine. BUT IF IT WAS ONLY HUGHES, THEN WHY WAS OHLENDORF CROSSED UP TOO? Answer that. It’s the same catcher with two different pitchers and he’s crossing them both up with no one on base. It can’t merely be a coincidence.

      Does this mean that Ohlendorf can’t see signs at night either?

    18. baileywalk
      April 30th, 2008 | 1:54 pm

      …over this Stewart P.O.S.

      Amen to that.

    19. Joel
      April 30th, 2008 | 2:29 pm

      Now poor Chris Stewart is the fall guy for the Hughes apologists. Great.

    20. hopbitters
      April 30th, 2008 | 4:03 pm

      I didn’t see the broadcast. Did Stewart have anything on his fingers to make them more visible? If not, why not? Hughes is far from the first pitcher to have this problem. Lots of catchers have used white tape or even nail polish over the years to make it easier to pick up signs.

    21. MJ
      April 30th, 2008 | 4:28 pm

      Did Stewart have anything on his fingers to make them more visible?
      Yes, he had tape on his fingers and some sort of powdery white substance too. YES did a closeup of his hand after the second cross-up.

      I still want my question answered. What’s the rule on bringing back someone you’ve DFA’ed? Moeller hasn’t been picked up by anyone yet and I don’t get why the team would roll the dice with Stewart? Just send the poor, overmatched bastard back down to Scranton and bring Moeller back.

      I can’t believe it’s come to me actually pining for Moeller…

    22. April 30th, 2008 | 7:44 pm

      LOL Joel.


      I’m guessing it was a fluke – since Girardi and Hughes both went out of their way to say the other cross ups were Hughes’ fault…and that Phil cannot see the signs at night.

    23. April 28th, 2009 | 8:24 am

      […] a flashback to some commentary on that game: Actually, what was most interesting about this game was listening to John Flaherty […]

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