January is traditionally a slow month for baseball news. So for the second year in a row, we will showcase other blogs with a series of pinch hitters.
Next up is Chris from Pinstriped Scranton..
Pinstriped Scranton was started in September of 2007. Chris covers the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees as a beat writer for Pinstripes Plus Magazine. Unable to pursue a beat writing career full-time, a blog seemed like the natural outlet for coverage of his favorite team’s Triple-A squad.
Here’s his post:
The 2008 season was the opportunity Phil Hughes was looking for. He was basically guaranteed a spot in the rotation after the Yankees not to trade for Johan Santana. Alongside Ian Kennedy, Hughes was supposed to be the youth movement that fans of the 1996-2001 dynasty were waiting for.
One problem for Hughes: Health wasn’t on his side.
Hughes ended the 2008 season sporting 0-4 record, a 6.62 ERA and a WHIP of 1.7. Safe to say, his numbers were unimpressive and Carl Pavano would end the season with more wins than Hughes and Kennedy combined.
As 2008 came to a close, Hughes did get some work in the Arizona Fall League, where he was impressive. Pitching for the Peoria Javelinas, Hughes went 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA. He held batters to .198 batting average and allowed 21 hits in 30 innings of work.
Of course, 2009 is a new year, a new chance to make an impression in the Bronx. If the current rotation stands, Hughes has an excellent shot of rounding out a rotation that will include CC Sabathia, A.. Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain.
Unfortunately, Hughes carries an “injury prone” reputation with many Yankees fans. Chamberlain has passed Hughes in the popularity race since his debut in the Bronx. Make no mistake, Hughes hasn’t lived up to what many fans expected. Reality reminds you one thing, however: Hughes is only 22 years of age.
Before we go appointing him “injury prone”, it’s only fair to give the right-hander a few more years. After all, pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras, and scouting director Damon Oppenheimer see something in Hughes and aren’t just giving up on him. Of course, if you want ignore Hughes’ high ceiling, his ability to control the strike zone and his excellent curveball, you’re more than welcome to. But if he’s given the chance in 2009, there’s a good chance you will change your mind.
Sitting in the fifth spot of the rotation in 2009 is a reality if Andy Pettitte does not resign with the Yankees. At this point, that’s very likely.
Another year in the minors wouldn’t be awful for Hughes either. The more endurance he can continue to build up can only assist the big club. There’s no question the Yankees need innings and if Hughes is used right, he can provide more than enough innings for the Yankees rotation this year.
If you’re a fan of the Bronx Bombers and you’re still cursing after the non-trade of Hughes and Kennedy for Santana, it’s my belief you won’t feel the same way when Hughes’ career comes to an end. After all, the interest in Hughes hasn’t gone away. And the Yankees won’t trade him.
There’s something about this kid. Don’t give up on him yet.
Thanks, Chris. I knew there was one fan out there who liked Hughes. Coming tomorrow: Jason from My Baseball Bias.