Friday, April 27, 2007
Hughes Didn’t Dominate
The big news was/is Phil Hughes’ major league debut, which saw him pinned with a loss. Watching the game, Hughes showed flashes of what excites people about him, fastball command and a plus curveball. He pitched better than his overall line would show, go ahead and call me an apologist if you would like, but due to a combination of poor timing on hits, some questionable ball/strike calls, and Miguel Cairo’s throwing arm, Hughes’ final line was 4.1-7-4-4-1-5-0 (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO-HR). While the Blue Jays were able to pick up some stolen bases on this day, controlling the running game is not a long term concern for Phil. Over the course of his career, a high percentage of the runners that have gone on Hughes have been caught stealing, it was also evident that Jorge Posada was more to blame for this than Phil.
For Hughes to truly be a big contributor to this year’s Yankee team, he’s going to have to go deeper, and that will come with time. The announcers seemed to intimate that Hughes was never allowed to throw more than 5 innings or 75 pitches last year, but that was not the case. Those measures were only put into place after it was clear Hughes was going to blow by the amount of usage the Yankees had targeted him for. As he gets used to the big leagues, Hughes will become more efficient and as the season goes on his pitch count will likely be raised to the point where he can be counted on for around 100 pitches, as was the case for much of the summer last year.
While I love the insight that Peter Abraham provides at the LoHud Yankees Blog, I find his criticism of the move to promote Hughes ridiculous. Firstly, at some point, the needs of the big league team must be addressed as best they can, which dictates promoting Hughes. Furthermore, the majority of his criticism seems to rest on the fact that Hughes pitched poorly in Spring Training, which makes no sense. Why take that handful of innings over the 200+ innings he has pitched in the minors over the last 2 years? As far as Hughes needing to learn about pitching with runners on and/or the bases loaded in the minor leagues…that makes sense, assuming you believe in the validity of those criticisms, until you consider that Hughes isn’t going to get exposed to those situations much because minor league lineups aren’t good enough to consistently put him in those positions. Finally, Pete has taken to blaming Cashman for mishandling the offseason pitching plan as a reason why the Yankees are in this position. While Kei Igawa’s first few starts haven’t instilled much confidence in me, I think it’s too early to be writing him off. That said, it’s not as if there was this great pitching market this past offseason. Ted Lilly, a guy that Abraham has advocated as being someone the Yankees should have looked into, would not have saved this rotation either.
Hughes didn’t perform great last night and the Yankee rotation is no great shakes. However, what we do know is that the difference in the quality of AAA and AA batters is not great enough that one needs to consider AAA batters as some great obstacle for Phil Hughes to overcome. His stuff is good enough. His performance record is without question. It is simply a matter of waiting for him to adjust and get his stamina up and everything will be fine. You never know when pitchers are going to get hurt, so the Yankees might as well get some use out of him now (knock on wood). Mr. Abraham, please stop worrying and trust the organizational decision makers on this one (If you told me 3 years ago that I would one day write that or something of a similar ilk, I would have laughed at you).
Alberto Gonzalez, who is in a bit of a slump, went 0 for 2 as Scranton won a pitcher’s duel by the score of 3-1. Picking up the victory for Scranton was Matt DeSalvo. DeSalvo continued to make the Yankee front office personnel that felt he still had something left to give look good by posting a line of 6-4-0-0-1-3-0. He now has an ERA of 1.35 and an 8:18 BB:K ratio in 20 innings. This is more in line with what everyone expected Matt to do last year.
Brett Gardner was 0 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base as his AVG dropped to .182. Cody Ehlers was 1 for 4 with a single and a strikeout to raise his AVG to .219. Gardner is just in a really bad funk right now and needs to snap out of it. It’s not going to be fun to have to dig out of a .1XX hole following the first month of the season.
Overall, the Trenton offense did not do much, only providing 2 runs and 6 hits, but they didn’t need to because Alan Horne continued to pitch very well. Horne’s final line was an impressive 6-5-1-1-2-6-0. His ERA has been lowered to 3.18 in 22.2 innings to go along with a sparkling 4:28 BB:K ratio. I doubted Horne going into the season, but I’m about 2 starts away from becoming a believer. He is looking like a terrific sleeper pick by Bryan Smith over at Bronx Banter. I think either Mike from River Ave. Blues or EJ from Pending Pinstripes had him as a guy to watch as well, but I’m too lazy to check.
Seeing that the Tampa offense put up 9 runs and 14 hits might lead one to get excited about what Jose Tabata contributed, but, unfortunately, he contributed nothing on this night. The new #1 Yankee prospect was 0 for 5 with a strikeout. While he has continued to do a good job of putting the ball in play, with power, to the opposite field, Jose has not been able to get anything to drop in. This should work itself out shortly.
Juan Miranda was 1 for 4 with a double and a strikeout. Miranda has been a fairly steady performer thus far this season. Reegie Corona and Colin Curtis both had excellent games, as did former prospect Tim Battle. Battle was 3 for 5 with 2 singles, a triple, and…a strikeout. He also managed a stolen base. Reegie picked up 2 singles in 3 at bats to go along with 2 walks. The night drove his overall line up to a respectable .293/.348/.366. Colin Curtis was 4 for 4, all singles, with a walk. He is up to .291/.418/.400. I know Curtis, technically, shouldn’t amount to too much, but I like him and am very pleased by his progress thus far. Lastly, Francisco Cervelli joined Jose Tabata in having a poor night, by going 0 for 4 with a walk and 2 strikeouts.
Tim Norton followed up an exceptional outing with an unremarkable one. His final line was 5-9-5-2-1-3-0 and his ERA on the year is now up to 3.71.
The offense was not able to overcome the hole that Norton put them in. Mitch Hilligoss and Seth Fortenberry were both 1 for 4 with singles, Hilligoss had 1 strikeout in there while Fortenberry had 2. Jose Gil was 1 for 4 with a single and 2 strikeouts while Wilmer Pino had the same line, minus the single. Eduardo Nunez probably had the best night of anyone on offense and he didn’t pick up a hit. The teenage SS was 0 for 1 with 3 walks. His BB:K ratio is now a promising 7:9. In the early going, Nunez has shown signs of 2005, other than his power being absent.
AAA Scranton as Tyler Clippard attempts to keep up with DeSalvo by having his first no doubt about it good start of the year.
I was a little nervous about him coming up at this point in the season. Seeing him pitch live at the stadium made me reconsider. I was impressed with his stuff even if the results weren’t great. His curveball looked impressive from where I was sitting. And the scoreboard gun had him hitting 93 with his fastball and even 94 occasionally.
He can definitely contribute at this level. But it must be taken into consideration that he is still 20 years old. He’s still developing and it will take time for him to reach his full potential.
I think Hughes looked about as I expected under the circumstances. I thought that he would probably overthrow in the first inning, and it appears that he did. That seemed to drain him a bit by the fifth inning.
Excellent rebuttal, Fabian, to Abraham’s point about Phil “needing to learn about pitching with runners on and/or the bases loaded in the minor leagues.”
It sounds like you missed Joel Sherman’s idiotic criticisms on Ch.9 after the game. Consider yourself fortunate.
I read on BBTF that he lost velocity after the first and third inning, is that true or just MHS being full of it?
Re: Hughes velocity. I noticed he hit 93 and 94 on the scoreboard gun even in the 4th inning, which is what he was hitting in the first 2 innings consistently. I didn’t notice a dramatic drop but a couple pitches dropped to 91 at times in the 5th.
Peter Abraham needs to stick with the interview audios, and being the first with any pertinent information about the club.
He needs to stay far, far, far away from any sort of analysis because I truly believe he is incapable of doing any any.
His blog is a must read because he usually is the first with information, but his analysis of all kinds of situations physically hurts me.
He velocity was lower in the fifth, even Leiter mentioned it.
Sherman highlighted Hughes’s ERA (8.31), and said that he was a disappointment because all of his Ks were against Toronto’s inferior hitters, and that he was dominated by their better hitters, like Wells and Thomas. He failed to mention that Thomas’s first inning hit was the result of his reaching for a pitch that was low and away and poking it to RF (which was skillful on his part, but hardlhy indicative of dominating Hughes), or that Wells would have had one less hit if the ball he hit, which seemed to be an easy FB to Matsui, hadn’t carried the into the stands as a result of the wind later in the game. He also failed to acknowledge that if the call at first had gone the other way in the 5th inning, Hughes might have left the game having surrendered two ER.
He also said that the comparison to Clemens is inapt because Clemens could hit 97 at age 20 (which I don’t think is true), while Hughes can’t come close. He thinks he’s overrated.
To make matters worse, Jon Heyman was on with M. Kay today and also said that Hughes was a disappointment, but then admitted that he didn’t watch the game. So how does he know that Hughes was a disappointment? Because…wait for it…that’s what Joel Sherman said.
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