• Sherman: Hughes Makes Cashman Look Horrendous?

    Posted by on October 26th, 2008 · Comments (8)

    Via Joel Sherman

    Last off season the Yankees refused to include Phil Hughes in a package for Johan Santana. Hughes made that decision look horrendous during the season, and isn’t stopping now.

    It is not just that two of his four starts in the Arizona Fall League have been poor, including Friday night’s Rising Stars showcase game. But scouts who have watched him in the AFL say Hughes’ delivery, command and array of stuff have not been impressive.

    He started the Rising Stars game and permitted four runs (one earned) in three innings, allowing two homers and walking two. One scout who has seen multiple starts in the AFL by Hughes offered this report from the Rising Stars game:

    “His velocity was fine. He threw some at 93-94 (mph), but mostly he was in the low 90s, but the problem was that they were straight. He gave up two bombs and even the outs were mostly hard hit. He couldn’t command his fastball to the corners at all. Only about half his curves were good and only about one in four were in the strike zone. He is working to add that changeup (to use against lefties), threw three and all were up and out of the zone.

    “I think the problem is that his elbow is too low so he is not commanding because he is not throwing downhill. His command stinks because his motion stinks. For example, his curve has good rotation and break, but I think because of that delivery it breaks early and so hitters pick it up.”

    There were many reasons that Yankees GM Brian Cashman advised against making a Santana deal last season, notably having to give up prospects and award Santana a record contract. But central to his thinking was that he did not want to surrender Hughes, whom he has envisioned being a cost-effective, homegrown, top-of-the-rotation stalwart.

    But Hughes has not been able to stay consistently healthy, and this season when he did pitch it was not particularly well: 0-4, 6.62 ERA in the majors; 1-0, 5.90 ERA in six Triple-A starts; and now the AFL issues.

    …he threw some at 93-94 (mph), but mostly he was in the low 90s, but the problem was that they were straight. He gave up two bombs and even the outs were mostly hard hit. He couldn’t command his fastball to the corners at all. Only about half his curves were good and only about one in four were in the strike zone…

    Sounds just like the Phil Hughes that we saw in the Bronx this summer.

    If the kid doesn’t perfect that third pitch – albeit a cutter, slider, or change – he’s going to remain being meat. With just two pitches, and him not being able to throw the curve (his second pitch) for strikes consistently, batters can sit on the fastball. And, when that “heater” is 91 MPH and straight as an arrow, big league hitters can crush it.

    Sure, he’s still young. But, how long do you wait?

    Comments on Sherman: Hughes Makes Cashman Look Horrendous?

    1. GPR.22
      October 26th, 2008 | 10:56 am

      You mean 1 unearned, 3 earned.

    2. Corey
      October 26th, 2008 | 11:38 am

      You mean 1 unearned, 3 earned
      ====
      no. he meant 1 earned 3 unearned, as stated

    3. jmeisner
      October 26th, 2008 | 11:49 am

      Yeah, I guess there’s no denying that something is off with Hughes. But you don’t tear up the minors for three years like he did by accident. I suspect there are nagging health issues with him. You gotta feel bad for him… He clearly has talent, but there’s been such an insane amount of pressure on the guy and he hasn’t yet met expectations. We’re pulling for you, Phil!

    4. YankCrank
      October 26th, 2008 | 11:50 am

      Phil is only 22. If he went to college, he would have just graduated and would be starting his pro career right now at the lower A affiliate. Instead, he’s logged successful innings at the Major League level (2007) and, at worst, will start next year in the AAA rotation. What’s the rush? Matt Garza started in the World Series last night and is 24, a full 2 years older than Phil. Give the kid some time…why do you ask “How long do you wait” when next to nobody is dominant on the mound at age 22?

    5. October 26th, 2008 | 12:08 pm

      Of course Hughes has been awful. There’s no surprise there.

      If almost everybody with 3 inch fingers turned out not to be a successful major league pitcher, then everybody expect pitchers with 3 inch fingers to not make it.

      If there was an excellent correlation between having a birthday on the 15th on the month and failing to be a good pitcher, then everybody would expect pitchers born on the 15th to fail.

      etc, etc, etc.

      But, despite the fact that almost all “top pitching prospects” fail, everybody expects their pitcher to be exempt from reality.

    6. Corey
      October 26th, 2008 | 12:48 pm

      I dunno…watching Phil pitch I just don’t see “it”, I realize it sounds stupid and I have no hard data to back up what I say, but sometimes you can just tell from watching the guy on the mound vs. watching the stat lines every night.

    7. butchie22
      October 26th, 2008 | 2:35 pm

      Hughes was overrated as a prospect. We have seen glimmers of brilliance from him, so anything is possible. Pelfry took some time as Johnson and Schilling did so things don’t happen overnight in baseball. Hughes doesn’t make Cash Man look bad, Cash Man makes Cash Man look bad! He has more money for drafting and salary than any other GM and look at what he has done the last few years. With the ascent of the Rays, his job will be that much harder.

    8. Raf
      October 27th, 2008 | 9:48 am

      But, despite the fact that almost all “top pitching prospects” fail, everybody expects their pitcher to be exempt from reality.
      ————–
      Not when those prospects post the numbers in the minors that they did.

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