The New York Yankees infatuation with Phil Hughes The New York Yankees infatuation with Phil Hughes The New York Yankees infatuation with Phil Hughes

The New York Yankees infatuation with Phil Hughes

Two days ago, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News claimed that New York Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes has captured a spot in the rotation and I have pondered over this ever since.

Phil Hughes pitching on April 18, 2008 against...

Phil Hughes pitching on April 18, 2008 against the Baltimore Orioles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the start of Spring Training the impression was that CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda were the only two with confirmed spots in the starting rotation and the rest were up for grabs between Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia and Michael Pineda.

Right from the start it felt like a rigged competition.

It just seemed that the Yankees were determined to give Phil Hughes a starting spot as long as he pitched somewhat decently.

GM Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi cannot seem to shake the 18 games he won in 2010, which I could understand more if 14 of Hughes wins were not in games when the bats scored 6+ runs. And he only pitched a total of 176 innings and that is very low for a pitcher who made 31 starts and went 18-8.

And some reason, I still don’t trust Hughes as a starter as the only time I truly felt confident watching him on the mound was when he pitched in relief in 2009.

The main question I have is if this real competition is based on Spring Training stats, because if it is than Hughes securing a spot is not really justified.

all stats compliments of

As you can see, Hughes is not pitching any better than Garcia or Pineda. He has the best ERA but the lowest number of strikeouts.

Garcia is pitching about equal to Hughes, with one more earned run but the same number of runs, one more homer and two more walks but also Garcia also has three more strikeouts.

And if you look at last season because logically you have, Hughes was out of shape, which affected his health; and Garcia won 12 games in 25 starts. Garcia gave up 16 homers and 59 earned runs in 2011, compared to 2010 Hughes who gave up 25 home-runs and 82 earned runs.

My concern is that Hughes is closer to being inefficient again than not, and it seems the Yankees are still dreaming of the 18 wins and already had him penciled into the rotation no matter what.

So, if the Yankees pick Hughes and Garcia ways bye-bye what happens when injury prone Hughes velocity drops or he becomes inefficient once he gets on the hill out of Spring Training?

All Hughes has proven is that he can pitch in Spring Training because he lost a ton of creditability with me after 2011, which in turn made me re-study his 2010 stats. That is when I realized Hughes 18-win season consisted of just a decent first half and that he also had the most run support of any starting pitcher that season.

Whatever the Yankees infatuation is with Hughes I just do not get, at least not yet.

Is it some guilt over wrecking Joba Chamberlain after endlessly trying to make him a starter?

It certainly is giving off the same odor.

I can only hope this doesn’t blow up when it is too late, and Garcia is already in another uniform.

If any of what the NY Daily News turned from borderline a fact to confirmed truth than there was never really a competition to begin with.

And from what I can see Garcia, or Pineda are both more consistent and reliable based on the bigger picture.


  1. TTKIN says:

    I’m pretty sure of that list, Hughes has the lowest ERA, not the highest like it says in the paragraph right after the chart.

  2. Richard Griffith says:

    Let me help you ponder this.

    Based on your chart Hughes has the lowest ERA not the highest. You are fixated on the past.

    You should pay more attention to your Syntax because many of your paragraphs are hard to follow.

  3. Richard Griffith says:

    Let me see if I have this right. The Yankees brass want Hughes as one of their starters because Joba did not work out as a starer?


    If you get paid by the word I can see it how all this makes sense. If not, I hope your day job is OK.

    • LLP says:

      Richard I apologize for the mistake and thank you for telling me as I changed it. I meant the best ERA but you knew that already.

      Regarding Hughes, the actual number is 6 of his wins he held batters to less than 3 runs…. the other 12 were 3 or more runs. He did have 6 wins with 3 runs scored so that is NOT 17 it is 12 in total. So, basically Hughes can be counted on about a third of the time and that is being generous.

      Can you explain the 176 innings pitched over 31 starts??? That is awfully low for an 18 game winner don't you think???

      • Richard Griffith says:

        "As you can see, Hughes is not pitching any better than Garcia or Pineda. He has the best ERA but the lowest number of strikeouts."

        It still is wrong. Now he has the best ERA but pitching the worst???????

        A quality start is defined by 3 runs or less not Less than 3 runs!!!!!

        176 innings is twice the innings he pitched in 2009 so yes 176 innings is a lot. Moreover , 1 win was in relief. It still averages 5.8 innings per win.


  4. Richard Griffith says:

    I know your still in mourning over AJ's departure but this fixation over Hughes is quite telling. Let's settle this once and for all.

    You keep posting how much run support Hughes received as the Main reason he won 18 games in 2010. You failed to mention that of his 18 wins, approx 17 of those wins, he allowed 3 runs or less. So the Yankees scoring more than 6 runs distorts how effective he was.

  5. Tanned Tom says:

    If I read the article correctly, Kate is nervous about Hughes being in the rotation. Well who wouldn't be? This guy had 6 good starts and a poor second half one year, and was very good out of the pen another year. Otherwise he has been horrible or injured, or both! Spring training stats (13 innings against AAA players) means f**k all. Otherwise some fans would be calling for Sabathia to be moved to the bullpen. As a starter, which is what we're discussing, he has clearly been the worst of the 6 starters. Not even any room for debate. Now we read he's finally in good shape, whatever. This is clearly the all or none year for Hughes, either he has a good, professional year, in which case he stays in the picture, or he disappoints, in which case it's either back to the pen, or traded in July. The part that concerns me is if Nova gets sent to the pen. His 2011 was clearly superior to anything Hughes has done as a starter, and yet it's looking like that's what's going to happen.

    • Richard Griffith says:

      Hughes had 16 Quality Starts (6 innings with no more than 3 ER's) in 2010. Where do you get 6 good starts? Look at the game logs !!

      Also, in 2010 he pitched 176 innings which was twice as many as in 2009. Spring training is important if your in competition for that 5th starting spot.

      • Matt says:

        I can agree some with Richard that Hughes had a solid 2010. But of the five Yankee pitchers with over 100 innings in 2010, CC and Pettite were stars (ERA+ about 130), Hughes was average (ERA+ 103) and Burnett and Vazquez were clearly below average (81 and 82). Hughes was in the middle of this pack in BB/9 and HR/9. He was above average in K/9. His BAbip was lower than average, indicating he would regress to the norm in 2011. Which he did.

        So Hughes was clearly better than two of the five starters, but clearly worse than the other two. Should he have won 18 games? Absolutely not. But 14 or 15? Sure, I think his numbers justified something in that range.

        Perhaps he's being given a little more for the upside potential because he's still fairly young. He had a pretty good 2010 and was only 24 years old (compared to 29, 33, 33, and 38 for the other four).

        Stats for 2010 Yankee starting pitchers, IP>100

      • Tanned Tom says:

        Oops, that was a typo. I meant 16 starts which does correspond to my point that he had a good first half and a bad second half.
        But the larger point is that the NYY management has chosen Hughes as the guy who will become a top half of the rotation pitcher. They jerked Chamberlain around and pulled him from the rotation in favor of Hughes even though his year was not so bad. They traded Kennedy in the Granderson deal and we've watched him excel while Hughes has not. Even last year, part of demoting Nova had to do with management having more confidence in Hughes returning from an injury than Nova continuing his form. They have handed him a spot in the rotation 3 times (2008, 2010 and 2011) and have gotten exactly one-half a good year, that is a terrible return.
        You accuse Kate of having a pro-AJ bias (true) but you seem to have a pro-Hughes bias. His numbers simply don't inspire any confidence in him as a starter. In a game that matters, I would trust Nova or Garcia way before Hughes.

        • Richard Griffith says:

          Hughes is fighting for the 5th spot, hardly a top half rotation guy.

          I'm happy for Kennedy, but let's not compare the NL bats with the AS East.

          Hughes will have to earn our confidence. And when he does remember this post.

          • LLP says:

            Really….because he was just named the #3 by Girardi. Told you that was the plan the whole time. Hughes is not a #3 and it sets him up to pitch vs. Anaheim at the Stadium on Saturday April 14th….I will be there and my guess is they will smoke Hughes. The Angels hit .300 against Hughes and that does NOT include Pujols bat….

            • Richard Griffith says:

              He's now #3 because of the injury to Pineda so nobody could have known that beforehand, not even YOU.

              Whether he is #3 or #5 I have Hughes pitching against the Angles. I think you forgot the off day on the 12th. If so you'll not see him on the 14th.

              Using your logic he should not pitch against KC or the Mariners since they hit above .300. Are the Red Sox ok because they only hit .234????

              You always like to cherry-pick a single stat to make a point.

            • LLP says:

              Richard Hughes vs. Pujols, who is crushing it in spring training is a good idea?? Without Pujols the active Angels hit .297 against Hughes….in 74 at-bats, 5 doubles, 1 triple, 4 homers, 16 RBIs and 10 walks. They slugged .554 against him so the Angels are not much better match up for Hughes. It will be nice to see if he really can be effective…and if he has the courage to throw his change-up in a real game. And that would be on the 15th during the day, which is not ideal if he really is the 2010 Hughes reincarnated.

              Hughes will face the Rays first, who he has pitched well against before and he is better away from Yankee Stadium so I expect him to go 6-7 innings. It will be interesting to see how this transpires and I will admit I was wrong about Hughes without any problem…but I am not giving him any leeway after last season's BS.

          • LLP says:

            This will prove my point that Hughes is useless in big games…if all is correct he will pitch against CJ Wilson the Angels #3.

            Wilson has held the Yankees to a .237 batting average in his starting career so Hughes will cannot afford to give up more than 2 to 3 runs.

            • Richard Griffith says:

              Your command of stats is breathtaking!!!!

              See comments above. You can't prove a point of any kind using a single game. If you think you can then, I'm afraid nothing would convince you otherwise.

              BA and ER's don't correlate so again your stat is Wrong.
              His career ERA is 3.80 against us (47.1inngs, 20ER's).

              NICE TRY

    • LLP says:

      Thank you Tom and I agree about Nova but with the recent news about Pineda having soreness in this shoulder….Nova won't go to the bullpen until Pettitte decides he is ready.

      I believe the few weeks until Pettitte returns will be the real test of who stays and who goes back to the bullpen…..that is if Pineda is hurt but I think he is Scranton bound after last nights start vs. Phillies, as his velocity went down again. Also, he had an arm injury in the minors that sidelined him back in 2009, I think so this is not a surprise considering his size and supposed lack of preparation prior to camp.

  6. splat3 says:

    I say we trade Jeter and A-rod get a new crop of young talent and a new dynasty. We can get some value for both of them still. Hopefully load up on pitching.

    • Tanned Tom says:

      Put down the crack pipe before you post here! Jeter is still fine, and A-rod has a no-trade clause. Or didn't you know that?

    • LLP says:

      Value??? Okay splat3 and who is going to pay their salaries??? Also, I think both are going to have solid years, but I feel a monster one for A-rod!! These two are still very capable players but I understand that they are more prone to injury due to age. So, cheers to health!!

  7. gordybravo says:

    I hear you Kate. It's not just the numbers, It's about feeling less confident with Hughes on the rubber then Nova. There's something about Hughes that your sitting there just waiting for something to go wrong. Nova looks to have no fear. When they sent him down last year he came back a better pitcher. Hughes wins 18 games and he comes back the next year useless. Kate is write in that it seems Nova and Pineda are on a shorter leach then Hughes. Unless it's all a buildup for a trade.

    • LLP says:

      Thank you GordyBravo…..I think it is Hughes delivery that scares me. It is so compact and his arm movement looks so unnatural to me. Hey if I wrong good for him, but if the Yankees and certain fans think he is an 18 game winner still I promise you that he is not; merely b/c at the end of 2010 hitters started to figure him out and that is a fact.

  8. Matt says:

    Richard- I don't think Kate gets paid by the word. In fact, with the exception of the few ads on here that may earn a couple bucks a month, I doubt she gets paid at all for writing this blog. She does it because she's a baseball fan and enjoys writing. Whether you disagree with her opinions or not, we should be applauding her initiative for writing on a topic Yankee fans like to read about.

    And she does provide some nice insight sometimes. As for this post, if I just go by my gut, I'm with her. I'd rather have Pineda over Hughes any day. Of course, I'm not setting the lineup, but I'll bet Girardi goes with his gut feeling more often than he looks at stats from two years ago.

    Kate- keep up the nice work. The fact that some people will bash you on here means that a lot of people are reading your blog.

    • Richard Griffith says:

      I was being facetious on getting paid by the word. Sometimes she just adds stuff that have little to do with the gist of the article.

      She can have any opinion she wants, just as long as she gets the facts or in this case the stats right. I also see she changed the narrative on Hughes having the higher ERA. Pineda may have pitched himself to the minors today since he imploded. I'm starting to miss Montero already.

      • LLP says:

        Hey the stats I got right….just the word wrong. You knew what I ment Richard…..and with Pineda falling apart this probably not an issue for now. Hughes can prove himself in his first 3 or 4 starts till Pettitte returns because someone is going somewhere on that day. And I would like to see if Nova can right himself once he is in a regular game, and if Hughes can win.

    • LLP says:

      Thanks Matt…..I appreciate the compliment. I have thick skin and do write this blog because I love baseball.

      Regarding this situation…but I think Pineda is Scranton bound after last nights start vs. Phillies, as his velocity went down again and the now sore shoulder getting an MRI. I just feel bad for this kid as the media pressure was a lot on him. He almsot cried after last nights game. The Yankees need to handle these youngsters better because something is not working.

      • Richard Griffith says:

        He has a sore shoulder and it's the media and yankees fault?? How did the yankees mishandle him??

        • LLP says:

          The mental pressure can take a tole on a person physically…and Pineda was unser immense stress from the get-go and the Yankees said it was good practice for him.
          He is just 23 and english is his second language…no reason to serve him up to the sharks on a silver platter…it hurts the team.