New York Yankees Hot Stove: Hughes Problem Gets A Raise New York Yankees Hot Stove: Hughes Problem Gets A Raise New York Yankees Hot Stove: Hughes Problem Gets A Raise

New York Yankees Hot Stove: Hughes Problem Gets A Raise

All I thought was, what the heck were the New York Yankees thinking when ESPN New York reported that Phil Hughesgot a one-year deal, for $3.2 million, plus another quarter million in incentives just to avoid going to salary arbitration with him?
Photograph of Phil Hughes taken on April 29, 2...

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I mean honestly, how much more money could an arbitrator really give Hughes?

In Hughes’ first three starts in 2011 he pitched a total of 10 innings, giving up 16 earned runs, four home-runs and only had three strikeouts. He became a liability to the team, so Hughes went back and forth from the DL for the rest of the season with everything from a shoulder issue to a herniated disc.

For the rest of 2011, Hughes made 11 more starts for a total of 14; he posted a 5-5 record, with a 5.79 ERA, giving up 48 earned runs, nine home-runs, while walking 27, and fanning 47 batters over 74 innings pitched. And FYI, the team scored 39 runs total in Hughes five wins.

The Yankees did not pay Hughes $2.7 million for those numbers, so why did he get such a big raise to pitch, or at least try again in 2012?

The whole thing just boggles my mind since ESPN New York reported back in November that GM Brian Cashman knew that Hughes did not train properly last off-season, and he showed up out of shape. Hughes definitely fooled me into thinking that was added extra “muscle” at the start of 2011 Spring Training, now that it was confirmed he was part of the “fat camp” crew.

No offense but I am not a Hughes believer. Everyone is always talking about his 2010 campaign, but Hughes got massive run support as in 14 of those wins the Yankee bats scored 6+ runs, which masked over his genuine lack of pitching ability.

Phil Hughes - 2010 Season- 18 Wins

Also, Hughes did take a dive in the second half of 2010, as his strikeouts went from 91 to 55, even if his 29 walks and 41 earned runs stayed identical to the first half. He also pitched 25 less innings, lost four more games and pitched three fewer games after the All-Star break. So, his slide was slow but steady.

Hughes finished the first half with an 11-2 record, posting a 3.65 ERA in 16 starts. After that, Hughes finished 7-6, with a 4.90 ERA over his remaining 13 starts. His SO/9 innings went from an 8.1 to 6.6 in a blink, and things have only gone downhill for Hughes ever since.

What Hughes Needs To Do In 2012?

This season, Hughes better realize that unless he is literally perfect from the first day of Spring Training on, or he will be traded, and maybe worst by getting sent down to Triple A.

Nothing is more infuriating, and discouraging when you hear a young player chalk up his poor performance to lack of effort in the off-season.

It speaks volumes of Hughes’ character, and fortunately for the Yankees he is not talented enough to get away with not working, like a lot of players can at a ripe 25-years-old.

Hughes will have to work overtime just to keep his head above water, unless he doesn’t care to stay in the Majors. And if he wants to stay in Yankee pinstripes, he needs to take what he considers working hard and double it.

Hughes lacks a third, put-away pitch, as he cannot rely his a low 90’s fastball and a diminished curveball. He was supposedly working on his change-up two years ago, but obviously not hard enough.

Coming out of the bullpen, as a reliever, was the best Hughes has pitched because he exhibited self-confidence and threw hard. I am sure sans the worry about having to get through no more than an inning, two at most allowed for that but so what since it worked.

Overall I can honestly say that Hughes hasn’t presented any reason for me to believe in his abilities to be a fulltime starter, at least not yet.

The bottom line is if Hughes wants to be a capable and successful starter he has a lot of work to do, and that is why giving him a half-million dollar raise for tanking doesn’t make much sense to me.

Mark my words; Phil Hughes will not be in the 2012 Yankees starting rotation, not counting if injuries dictate otherwise, but certainly not on his own merit.


  1. thomas catanzarita says:

    I agree with you I don't see Hughes as a starter. I think they should move him to the pen where he can earn his money. Joba isn't likely to be back until after the allstar break so technically there is a need for him in the pen,

  2. Tanned Tom says:

    I agree completely. A young player who can't stay in shape is the worst. With the signing of Kuroda and the Pineda trade, there is only 1 spot in the rotation for 3 starters. At least one has to go. Garcia is my choice to stay and be 5th starter, and Burnett is untradeable without paying $25 mil of his salary. That makes Hughes the one to go, even though his success as a reliever could make him valuable. It's hard when a pitcher is only 25 to give up on him, but I think I'm ready to give up on Hughes. With Warren and Phelps ML ready, with Banuelos and Betances ready by 2013 or 2014, I really don't see the need to keep him. Perhaps Cashman can find a dumb GM (this won't be too hard, just swing a dead cat at the next GM meeting) who will ignore the attitude/conditioning problems and see a young, inexpensive pitcher with promise. Perhaps they can get a minor leaguer and a draft choice in return.

    • LLP says:

      If Hughes cannot be motivate at age 25 because he is a pro-athlete, and on the Yankees is NOT a good sign. Hughes has never displayed confidence in his starts, and his delivery is so short and abrupt that it scares me.