Results tagged ‘ Phil Hughes ’

Read and React: Hughes vs. Wang

By Jon Lane
Read: Great anecdote from Yankees radio announcer Suzyn Waldman, who also pens for WFAN’s Web site, about Phil Hughes and the fire in his belly. Hughes threw eight stellar innings on Monday in an 11-1 win over the Rangers, allowing only three hits and one walk while striking out six in the longest outing of his career.

React: And there are those who believe Hughes is better suited for the bullpen, even though it’s temporary. Look, when it comes to Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, the two most cherished arms in the Yankees organization, this yo-yo business is stupid. Once you make a decision – starter or reliever – you stick to it without messing with a young pitcher’s head or routine. Wisely, the Yankees are keeping Chamberlain in the rotation even with the possibility of Brian Bruney gone for the rest of the season and Hughes will remain among the five, Chien-Ming Wang or no Chien-Ming Wang.

Chamberlain is 23, Hughes is 22. These guys represent today and tomorrow, and have a great chance to be frontline starters within a few years. To quote “Wall Street’s” Lou Mannheim, “Stick to the fundamentals. That’s how IBM and Hilton were built. Good things sometimes take time.”

Read: Wang is stuck in long relief purgatory.

React: Adam Jones’ line drive that hit Chamberlain’s knee last week put the Yankees in a bind, forcing them to forgo Wang’s final Minor League start for immediate bullpen help. He’s off the disabled list and the Yankees can’t demote him because he’ll be exposed to waivers. It has them in a quandary with Hughes pitching well and Wang needing in-game repetitions, but it’s one of those nice ones. Joel Sherman of the New York Post sums it up best:

“Last year, Hughes was handed something he had not earned: a rotation spot. This year he is earning his spot. Will we ever say that about Wang in 2009?”

Read: Damaso Marte, out since April 26 with shoulder inflammation, is in Tampa, but it’ unclear when he will return this season. The Yankees seem to have little interest in his return, writes Peter Abraham

“It’s going to take some time,” Joe Girardi said. “His timetable? We really don’t have a timetable when he will be back.”

React: Three years and $12 million for Marte? Abraham isn’t the first to wonder why the Yankees are quick to share injury information about most players but not Marte. 

TGIF: Random Yankee thoughts

hughes_250_051509.jpgBy Jon Lane
“Friday is the day when everyone gets their motivation and energy back.”
– ‘Vice’ the coffee, bagel and danish vendor, 15th & 9th, Manhattan.

Nothing like a nice late-spring Friday morning to get you going and fill you with optimism. Our Steven Goldman, who can be a tough critic, gives props to the Yankees for taking two of three games from the first-place Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees haven’t gained traction yet, but there are reasons for hope. They have won 4 of 6 and are home for 10 games. CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera are looking like, well, CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera, and the team has received surprising contributions from Brett Gardner and Francisco Cervelli.

Just like that, people are feeling good about the Yankees again. It’s truly amazing how in baseball the story changes every day, even every hour. Wasn’t two weeks ago when the Mets were declared finished because they lacked an “edge?” Last I looked they’re 10-3 this month.

“It’s a nice little shift for us,” said Joe Girardi. “This is something that you can build on.”

Back at .500 and trailing the Blue Jays by 4 games, the Yankees face the Twins, Orioles and Phillies these next 10 days. Lots of baseball left to be played, but the time is now to take three of four here, two of three there – if not compile a winning streak. Girardi’s bunch wants to be both winning and fully healthy by the time they tackle the Rays and Red Sox from June 5-11.

Onto a few random thoughts hours before Alex Rodriguez test drives the new Yankee Stadium tonight against the Twins (YES HD, 7 p.m.).

  • Big start for Phil Hughes, 0-2 with a 17.49 ERA after silencing the Tigers for six innings on April 28. Good or bad, I see Hughes headed to Triple-A if Chien-Ming Wang pitches well in his second rehab start for Scranton on Sunday and cleared medically, but a strong effort would be one of those “nice problems to have” and build Hughes’ confidence back up. There are people who are still expecting Hughes to throw zeros every time he pitches. Yeah, he gave up eight runs, eight hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings – the shortest start in his three-year career – last Saturday in Baltimore. Many are tempted to declare him a bust who will never live up to his promise as a first-round, can’t-miss prospect. He also turns 23 next month. What’s the rush? Not every youngster makes an immediate impact. Let him get more work at Scranton and allow him to mature as a pitcher. Then we can evaluate.

  • Big day for Xavier Nady, out since April 15 with a partially torn elbow ligament and rehabbing in hopes of avoiding a second Tommy John surgery. Nady will swing a bat this afternoon and provided he feels no pain is hoping to begin a Minor League rehab assignment before the end of the month. The plan is for Nady to be a DH and ease him back into the outfield. Where that leaves Hideki Matsui is another story for another day. For Nady’s sake, let’s hope we have a chance to debate it.

  • A-Rod is excited to play in his first game at the Bronx Mahal ( Chris Shearn). He’s 3-for-14 since returning last Friday, but hasn’t missed an inning. Look for him to be the designated hitter and for the home crowd to provide a nice response. Hometown fans have high thresholds for players who admittedly or allegedly dabble in PEDs (just ask Barry Bonds’ loyal following). Only if A-Rod continues to not hit or fails in a big spot will boos grow long and loud.

  • Sabathia’s last two starts: 2-0, 17 innings, two runs, nine hits, five walks, 13 strikeouts. The left-hander got the Yankees going on the road with a complete-game, four-hit shutout in Baltimore, overshadowed when A-Rod hit the first pitch he saw over the left field fence, but also healing balm for an appalling 2-5 homestand.

  • Cervelli (.316) has been impressive at and behind the plate, writes Tyler Kepner. At this rate it’ll be another one of those “nice problems” once Jose Molina is eligible to come off the disabled list.

  • How great has Johnny Damon been? The reigning American League Player of the Week has at least one extra-base hit in 10 consecutive games, matching a single-season franchise record held by Don Mattingly (1987) and Paul O’Neill (2001). He’s 18 for his last 42 (.429), with at least one run scored in those 10 games. River Ave Blues analyzed Damon’s run and desire to stay in the Bronx once his contract expires at the end of the season.

Hughes in relief, David Robertson, Citizens Bank Park

citizenspark_350.jpgBy Glenn Giangrande
Hey everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I’ve been wrapped up in work here at YES mostly, though I did manage to take a day trip down to Philadelphia for a game at Citizens Bank Park. It’s a gorgeous place, and a great one to see a game. Dave Bush of Milwaukee came five outs of a no-hitter; my heart sank in the eighth inning when Matt Stairs launched a moonshot that hooked right into the right field foul pole, breaking up the no-no bid with a pinch hit homer. Fun times though, no doubt. Run a Facebook search on my full name if you want to see the pics. My profile’s public and it’s got the Philly pics in their own album. I don’t have anything to hide!
I thought I’d celebrate my return to blogging with a few quick hits. Where to begin, where to begin…

  • Phil Hughes, reliever?  If everyone wants to tout the idea of putting Joba Chamberlain back in the bullpen if Chien-Ming Wang returns healthy, why can’t Wang’s return push Hughes to the bullpen? Not that it’s an idea that’s been discussed or anything, but why is everyone so adamant about Joba being a reliever? It must only be because he’s done it regularly. Remember, Joba only solidified the ‘pen because he was necessary when Kyle Farnsworth and the like couldn’t do the job in ’07.


  • Anyone else wonder if the Brett Gardner era is over before it began? I’m the same guy who said that Gardner was going to run away with the starting CF job in Spring Training, but it’s May now, not March. Gardner might simply be a 4-A outfielder, albeit one with A++ speed.


  • I love Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres. One of the best players many baseball fans still don’t know about. Put him on the all-underrated team right next to Raul Ibanez.


  • Mark Melancon deservedly has the attention of those who follow the Minors as a guy who can be a breakout pitcher this season, but I really think David Robertson deserves equal focus.


  • How young does Ramiro Pena look? 15? 16?


  • Which New York hockey team had the more productive year: the one that blew a 3-1 lead in the first round of the playoffs or the team that secured the No. 1 pick in the draft?


  • Not only did David Wells sit with the fans on Opening Day, but I spotted him outside Yankee Stadium signing autographs for about 20 minutes long after the game was over. A stand up move by the lefty, though I cannot in good conscience call him Boomer. I reserve that name for Mr. Esiason much like many Giants fans refuse to call LaDanian Tomlinson “LT,” even though they are indeed his initials.


  • I just dropped major dollars on car repairs. My car’s a 1997 Plymouth Breeze. 150,000+ miles. Can I get it to 200,000?

Thursday tidings

joba_250_043009.jpgBy Jon Lane
George King has coined the newest Yankees catch phrase: Phi Sigma Joba Starter (PSJS) nation. Here’s hoping the loyal order of the Joba-to-the-bullpen army was served with a reality check with Joba Chamberlain’s finest start since that 1-0 win over Josh Beckett and the Red Sox in Boston on July 25, 2007.

Yeah, right. This debate will never go away. Though I am guilty of adding kindling to the fire by only presenting the other side of the story, Chamberlain has to stay in the rotation. This won’t be an issue until (if) Chien-Ming Wang returns healthy and back in form, but people won’t stop talking about it. To be fair, this is indeed a tasty storyline and an excellent problem worth discussing, not those “revelations” from that new book coming out on some (in)famous baseball player.

Here’s why Chamberlain is a starting pitcher, case closed:

Imagine a rotation with Chamberlain and Phil Hughes pitching brilliantly? The jury will still be out on Hughes for awhile, but best-case scenario is you have two outstanding homegrown starters pitching well in a group that includes CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. Remember, Andy Pettitte probably isn’t coming back after this season, so the long-range forecast includes Chamberlain, Hughes, Wang (he’s down, but not out) and Ian Kennedy if he can finally scale the roadblocks that have prevented him from pitching in the Major Leagues. Not too bad of a future for a win-now franchise, eh?

Everyone makes a fuss about how Chamberlain threw 97 MPH as an unhittable, intimidating reliever. Here’s something few actually talk about: He’s 4-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 16 career starts and has allowed 82 hits and struck out 91 in 88 1/3 innings – and he’s still getting warmed up. The next time anyone brings up how he’s only throwing 92-93 instead of 97 must be re-told the story on how Burnett has matured from setting speed records to a pitcher that locates and changes speeds.

Out-of-the-box storytelling from Peter Abraham on how Chamberlain’s approach against Miguel Cabrera and one pitch decided the game. This eliminates any doubt about Chamberlain’s capabilities as a starter. This sequence started a run of 10 straight Tigers batters retired by Chamberlain, five by strikeout.

One of my readers summed it up best: For years the story has been the Yankees’ lack of quality pitching. At this rate they will have a lot of rounds to spare. Too many arms are never – EVER – enough. Want proof? See last season. 


Abraham compiled a report from Alex Rodriguez’s extended spring game in Tampa: 1-for-6 with a homer and two walks.

Another bad April for Mark Teixeira, his worst since 2003. Here’s a breakdown of his batting average, and on-base and slugging percentages for each April the past seven seasons:

2003     .188     .288     .344
2004     .276     .432     .552
2005     .262     .321     .485
2006     .293     .391     .495
2007     .231     .346     .341
2008     .290     .355     .490
2009     .197     .365     .364

Worried? You need not be.

Mariano Rivera has allowed a home run in his last two appearances, notes Kat O’Brien. He gave up four all of last year and hasn’t surrendered more than four since 2001 and five since 1995, when he began his career as a starting pitcher. Reason to worry? Uh, no.

For those who care (I don’t), the book on A-Rod says he may have been taking steroids since high school. I quote Al Davis, “Just win, baby.” Do that and nobody will talk about this stuff.

Possibilities are endless

hughes_250_042909.jpgBy Jon Lane
It’s one start. One start, or a handful, doesn’t make a person a success or a failure. But Phil Hughes Tuesday night?


Phil the Thrill


Phil Franchise (copyright: Peter Abraham)

“I don’t think you can do any better,” said manager Joe Girardi.

Monday night showed you why Phil Hughes was touted as one day being The Franchise. He showed, for one night, why he wasn’t traded for even the great Johan Santana and that patience can be a virtue even in Yankee-land. That said, watch Hughes get rocked on Sunday and those who today are proclaiming him The Franchise will start demanding his demotion, and the hiring of Bobby Valentine and Steve Phillips to run the club.

Brian Cashman said it best the day he announced he was staying with the Yankees: If the Yankees spend money, they’re criticized for doing so frivolously. If they build a program – gee, what a concept – they take heat for blowing off a chance to win right now.  You can’t have it both ways, folks. But what Hughes provided in his best start since that night he tossed 6 1/3 no-hit innings is optimism that Cashman’s vision will actually work. You don’t proclaim Hughes a success off one start, but you neither call Chien-Ming Wang a lost cause nor Joba Chamberlain a failed starter either.

The Joba-back-to-the-bullpen campaign is gaining tremendous steam, one that will blister the sports talk radio airwaves if he flounders tonight against the Tigers (YES HD, 7 p.m.). If Chamberlain throws six-seven splendid innings, that will pave the road for what will be a difficult decision, but an excellent problem to have.

Picture this: Hughes builds off Monday night. Chamberlain gets into a grove. Wang finds himself. Brian Bruney comes back healthy and Mark Melancon proves to be the real deal. How tempting would it be for the Yankees to add Chamberlain to a late-inning mix with Bruney and Melancon?

It’s risky business. I echo Ron Guidry telling Mike Francesa during the winter that you cannot continue to yank Chamberlain up and down like a yo-yo. And it takes time for power pitchers, especially young ones in their early 20s with an injury history like Chamberlain, to ratchet up velocity and nail down location at the same time. But if Hughes shows he’s here to stay, you can’t move him to the bullpen (ditto a two-time 19-game winner).

I’ve said for months that Chamberlain should be a starter and won’t waver now. But in the interest of fairness, the other side of it is while potential 20-game winners don’t come around often, neither does a close-to-a-replacement-as-humanly-possible for Mariano Rivera. And Joba-to-the-bullpen means less, if not the elimination, of Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez and Damaso Marte, that’s something to seriously consider for the greater good.

The Wang project will take at least a few weeks, enough time for a full evaluation. Wang is the wild card here. If he’s completely shot or a major physical problem reveals itself, Hughes and Chamberlain join Andy Pettitte as the back-end starters. The only thing for Hughes to do is pitch to win, not to avoid going back down to Scranton.

“We want him to pitch great and stay in the rotation,” Girardi said. “What you want as a manager is to have more starters throwing well than spots you have.”

What you have here is a storyline that is tasty and compelling, and one that will build towards a climax if everything goes to plan. It’s better than last season, when injuries and ineffectiveness forced Girardi to hand starting roles to Sidney Ponson, Darrell Rasner, Dan Giese and everyone’s favorite, Carl Pavano.

How do you see this playing out?

Proving ground for Phil Hughes

hughes_370_042809.jpgBy Jon Lane
This is a photograph taken the night of May 1, 2007 in Arlington, Texas. The man below the scoreboard is Phil Hughes and the numbers above him do not tell the whole story. Here was Hughes, 24 days shy of the legal drinking age, on a Major League mound for the second time in his life and he was working the Rangers for a no-hitter along with 10 strikeouts entering the seventh inning. He was eight outs away when he threw an 0-2 curveball to – get this – Mark Teixeira. His 80th pitch would be his last. Hughes grabbed his left hamstring, and was forced from the game and immediately to the disabled list.

The performance was a tease. The injury was a distant early warning. Since 5/1/07, Hughes has won five games – none since September 27, 2007 – thanks to repeated ailments that has his career in stop-and-go traffic. Tonight, a 22-year-old right-hander, “The Sure Thing,” is being asked to halt a four-game losing streak and the latest round of panic attacks amongst the Yankees fan base.

One night after I wrote an open letter to CC Sabathia telling him it was time to play stopper, Hughes is starting the latest “Biggest Game of the Season.” There will be a lot more “big games” and “must wins” if the Yankees continue to stare down the barrel of a losing streak, along with calls for the heads of Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman. Yes, it’s April 28, 2009 and the Yankees have been through worse. This time, they are without Alex Rodriguez, Chien-Ming Wang, Xavier Nady and Brian Bruney, while Johnny Damon is fighting an aching left shoulder and Hideki Matsui brittle knees.

But a team that spent $423.5 million on people is a game under .500 and have watched the Red Sox run off 11 straight wins employing a brand of baseball they’re incapable of doing at the moment: killing with speed, locking down the seventh and eighth innings of tight games, and delivering in the clutch. The Yankees’ problems with runners in scoring position are like stubborn acne. Monday night they were 1-for-9. They have one hit in their last 25 at-bats in the pinch and are batting .223 in such situations.

Memo to Hughes: You’re 5-7, 5.15 in your career. You’re better than that. Tonight begins your chance to show that you can be an answer to Jon Lester. To Justin Masterson. To Manny Delcarmen. Homegrown prospects thriving in the big leagues. The Yankees have shown patience with you, refusing to make you the centerpiece in a deal for Johan Santana. Your legacy will not be written until years later, yet tonight is a big step. For your team. For your confidence.

One good start from Hughes will get the wheels turning towards better days, beginning with a rotation that will meet expectations once CC Sabathia (Monday’s hard-luck loser) and A.J. Burnett find their footing, and Chien-Ming Wang finds his way back. Hughes’ presence, combined with Joba Chamberlain’s underwhelming performances as a starter, has refueled the Joba-to-the-bullpen debate. I don’t remember exactly, but it was either Mike Francesa or one of his callers who theorized that the Yankees “neutered” Chamberlain by making him a starter, taking away the balls-to-the-wall mentality of letting it all go at 97 MPH that made him unhittable.

I will not go there. This topic is burnt to a crisp from where I sit and I’m amazed that it has such shelf life. Whether the Yankees actually cave in and put Chamberlain back in an eighth-inning role depends on a lot of variables, namely Bruney’s health and Mark Melancon’s effectiveness. The first and most important step commences with how No. 65 does tonight in Detroit.

Enter Phil Hughes?

By Jon Lane
Peter Abraham has a report on Chien-Ming Wang’s extended spring game. Wang threw 91 pitches, 70 for strikes, walked none and struck out 11 in seven innings against Phillies Minor Leaguers. However, Nardi Contreras told reporters in Tampa that Wang needs more arm strength and that is sinker is not consistent enough.

The AP’s full report is here. The impression is that the Yankees will DL Wang. Phil Hughes would be lined up to start Tuesday in Detroit if the Yankees go that route.

Pete Caldera has more and cited a source that said Wang won’t pitch on Tuesday. Wang gave up four runs (three earned) on nine hits and Contreras said that he still needs to re-build arm strength coming off last season’s foot injury.

Wang to throw Thursday in Tampa

By Jon Lane
I’m not at the Stadium tonight (I’m there tomorrow), but was passed a note with an update on Chien-Ming Wang’s next step.

Wang will go to Tampa Thursday to throw roughly 100 pitches in an extended Spring Training game. The Yankees want to see better consistency on the sinker and will take it from there.

“We want to see how he throws Thursday,” said Joe Girardi. “He’s struggled and we have talked about the importance of getting him right. We believe this is a another step in doing it and instead of not pitching him, we think he needs to pitch and try to get this right.

“The importance is the consistency of his sinker. That’s where he’s gotten himself in trouble.  He’s gotten up in the zone and when he gets up, it flattens out. So the importance is seeing the sinker, down, down, down with the movement and we’ll evaluate it after that.”

Thanks to Metro New York‘s Larry Fleisher for the 411.

Figure on Wang starting next week in Detroit. I’m not sure what the Yankees will deem progress, but I would think he’d have to go at least five innings. Anything close to resembling the three horrid starts we’ve seen to date and Phil Hughes may want to keep his cell phone close at all times.

Monday musings

By Jon Lane
While I remain in New York dealing with a stubborn Jack Frost, Team Tampa is in Clearwater today covering today’s Yankees-Phillies game. Keep it locked in for a live blog and later, Chris Shearn and Co. will have interviews, news and nuggets as the Yankees take another step towards April 6, Opening Day in Baltimore.

Some quick hits and observations from today and over the weekend:

BREAKING NEWS: Curt Schilling has retired, posting a message on his blog. More on this later.

Xavier Nady would be the starting right fielder if the season started today, said Joe Girardi, but Nick Swisher will play an important role with the team. Swisher’s versatility is well-documented, as is his penchant for keeping things loose in Yankeeland. Shearn interviewed Swisher this morning, which will have up later.

Chien-Ming Wang will start the exhibition game against the Cubs on April 3. Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett will split the game on April 4.

As Shearn reported on Saturday, Phil Hughes was optioned to Triple-A Scranton. He was simply a victim of a numbers game and needs to pitch multiple and complete innings rather than sporadic innings. This makes sense to everyone except the Loyal Order of Joba to the Bullpen (LOJB).

In case you care, Alex Rodriguez made the news again for something not related to baseball, but his personal live. The New York Daily News first reported that Kristin Davis (not the actress but the former Manhattan madam who supplied Eliot Spitzer with hookers) dated A-Rod and supplied him with clients.

Draw your own conclusions. If you want to read the story, it’s here. (Racy photo alert!)

In more refreshing news, Yankees senior advisor Ray Negron’s new book, One Last Time: Good-Bye to Yankee Stadium was released last Tuesday and rose to No. 1 on the Amazon’s Best Seller List. Negron’s second book, The Greatest Story Never Told: The Babe and Jackie was No. 4. Negron doesn’t make a dime on the proceeds. They all go to multiple charities, so keep up the support. 

Tracking the Yankees in Fort Myers

By Jon Lane
Well, I’m not IN Fort Myers, but I am following Phil Hughes and those who made the long trip via the airwaves. At Yankees home base in Tampa, Chris Shearn and Joe Auriemma are working hard to provide the latest news and special features. Stay logged on to the new-look throughout the day and weekend for exclusive updates and interviews.

Hughes is eager to bounce back from his first rough start of the spring last Saturday in Bradenton, Fla. He may be a victim of a numbers game in the rotation, but he’s had an impressive Grapefruit season and will only benefit from extended action at Triple-A as a starter. Even if you don’t see him up north until at least September, is that such a bad thing? That would mean the starting five will have remained healthy and Hughes will benefit even more from the experience. In June he turns a mere 23 years old, so there’s plenty of time and limitless upside.

Following Hughes against the Twins is Jason Johnson, Dave Robertson, Anthony Claggett, Kei Igawa. Remember that Johnson is batting eye cancer and Igawa has tossed 12 scoreless innings. That’s not a typo, folks.

Brett Gardner led off with a single against Glen Perkins before left fielder Delmon Young robbed Robinson Cano with a diving catch while fighting the wind. Gardner stole second base but Mark Teixiera grounded out and Hideki Matsui flew out to deep center to end the top of the first. I’ll have more updates as the game progresses.

1:22 p.m. Hughes shook off a one-out walk to Alexi Casilla to get Jason Kubel to ground into a double-play.

1:40 p.m. Three up and three down for Hughes, all on ground-ball outs. Give an assist to Teixiera on the third out. He scooped up a low throw to help retire Young. No score after two.

1:48 p.m. Gardner is 2-for-2. Kudos to Joe Girardi for not declaring a winner in the center field battle. Besides the fact that there are two weeks left in Spring Training, you want to keep Gardner and Melky Cabrera looking over their shoulders. Gardner has to hit consistently and Cabrera show he’s more than just a fourth outfielder.

1:59 p.m. Hughes held the Twins hitless until Mike Redmond’s one-out double. Nick Punto singled Redmond home, but Hughes recovered to retire Denard Span on a 3-3-6 double play.

2:24 p.m. Hughes is pulled with one out in the fifth. He must have reached his pitch count cap. Another good outing for the right-hander: one run on three hits with a walk and no strikeouts. Jason Johnson is in the game.

2:43 p.m. Teixeira blasted a solo shot in the sixth to tie the game, but the Twins have regained the lead at 2-1. Teixeira finished 1-for-3 and is batting .414.

3:13 p.m. Todd Linden’s solo homer ties the game 2-2 in the top of the eighth.

3:23 p.m. Yankees enter the bottom of the eighth leading 3-2 after a Francisco Cervelli sacrifice fly.

4:03 p.m. Yankees win 4-2, but not without some drama. Kei Igawa relieved David Robertson with one out in the ninth. He walked two Twins to load the bases and ran the count to 3-2 to Denard Span unil Span grounded into a game-ending double play. Igawa has now pitched 12 2/3 scoreless innings, but his location was terrible. In short, it was shades of the Igawa everybody knows.