Spent a little time here at the St. Regis asking the Yankees how they view Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy these days.
A few interesting things came out of it.
Hughes was throwing 95 in Arizona the other night and the Yankees were thrilled. They’re also enthused about how well Hughes is throwing his cutter.
(As a side note, I was told that the radar gun on the scoreboard in Scranton is absolutely accurate. So when Chad Jennings was reporting on his blog that Hughes was throwing 95 over the summer, it was true.)
The question now is whether Hughes can throw 95 in the majors, which we’ve seen only on occasion. The Yankees still go back to that night in Texas in 2007 or how well he pitched down the stretch of that season once he came back from the hamstring injury.
“He’s had a lot of things happen physically,” Brian Cashman said. “You have to hope that he gets past all that and then, bang, he pops up and he’s that pitcher we all believe he can be.”
I asked Cashman whether he had lost any faith in Hughes.
“It’s not that. I still believe he will be that kind of pitcher,” he said. “But I can’t write him in as a No. 4 or a No. 5. He will come to camp and he has to show us where he is. But to answer your question, no, we haven’t lost any faith in him.”
I still believe that if Hughes had spent most of 2007 in AAA as the Yankees intended, this would not be a topic. He would have matured into a very good big league starter. But when circumstances rushed him to the majors, it threw off his schedule.
Facts are facts: He stood on the mound in Arizona a few nights ago and threw 95 against talented hitters and allowed one hit over five innings and he’s 22. I don’t see how you give up on that sort of talent.
As for Kennedy, the Yankees want him to be more than a guy who commands his fastball and has a nice changeup. He’s throwing a cutter as well and going to Puerto Rico for winter ball could be an important part of his maturation. There seem to be differing opinions within the organization about his makeup, which has been the case for a while.
I do think that by the time spring training rolls around, the Yankees will have used either Kennedy or Hughes as part of a trade package. But it’s going to take a lot for Cashman to move Hughes.