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Postgame notes: “We know he can be better”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcast on Jul 07, 2011 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Here’s what struck me about tonight’s postgame conversations about Phil Hughes: They were perfectly normal. They were about a pitcher needing to be more downhill with his delivery and needing to put away a few more hitters with two strikes. They weren’t about a pitcher with a dead arm or a weak shoulder or a mysterious inability to pitch at this level.

These weren’t the same conversations we were having three months ago.

“People are going to say it’s a good outing, but we know that he can be better,” Joe Girardi said. “We know that he can be downhill more… I talked about with the extra days off and the first outing, my concern was that he would be up a little bit. That’s what we saw.”

Hughes’ stuff was pretty much the same in the fifth as it was in the first. He didn’t fatigue suddenly or drastically, and his fastball pretty much sat around 92 mph. There were some 93s and some 91s, but he was more or less 92 all night.

“That’s right where I need to be,” Hughes said. “But it was more an issue of location and putting hitters away tonight.”

Hughes went five innings and allowed two runs, both in the first inning. He gave up six hits, but all of them were singles. He walked two batters and hit two batters, but he pitched pretty well with runners on base. Hughes said rust and adrenalin might have had something to do with mechanics that were a little bit off, but that seemed fixable.

If you were hoping for an overwhelming, dominant return from Hughes, this wasn’t it. But considering where he was three months ago, this was a clear sign that Hughes has gotten better. He’s a viable big league starter again.

“It’s nice to go out there and actually have stuff you feel like you can compete with,” Hughes said. “In the first inning I felt like my mechanics were a little off today, and I was trying to make adjustments and talking to Larry in between innings about what I needed to do, but I never really felt like I got into a groove. I think it kind of stemmed from that first inning, and not being able to get out of that inning as quickly as I would have liked.”

Here’s Hughes. Fair warning, there was a lot of noise in the clubhouse, especially toward the end of this clip, when people were cleaning up dishes.

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• Derek Jeter was one of the few Yankees who actually had some good at-bats against Indians starter Justin Masterson. He struck out in the first inning, but he drove a ball to center field in the third inning, drew a walk in the sixth and doubled to the opposite field in the eighth. “I feel pretty good,” Jeter said. “Yesterday I thought I had some good at-bats. Sometimes guys are going to make pitches and you look foolish, but today especially I thought I had some good swings.”

• I’m not sure whether you’ve heard, but Jeter’s closing in on 3,000 hits, and tonight’s double put him three away. He has four home games coming up. “I’m looking forward to it,” Jeter said. “I wish I would have gotten more today, but it wasn’t the case. I’m definitely looking forward to going back to New York.”

• Kind of an uneven night for Boone Logan, who got some big outs but also hit a batter and gave up a solo homer to a rookie lefty. Logan’s been pitching pretty well lately, and Girardi didn’t see this as a significant step back. “He left a fastball middle-in, that’s all,” Girardi said.

• Bad night for Sergio Mitre, who walked in a run, then allowed a sacrifice fly and gave up the two runs that ultimately made the difference. “He had a hard time throwing his fastball for strikes,” Girardi said. “His changeup, he got swings and misses on. His curveball, he threw some strikes. He had a hard time throwing his fastball for strikes.”

• Girardi wasn’t going to use Mariano Rivera, so that affected his bullpen decisions in those late innings. Both Rivera and Girardi said they expect Rivera to be back tomorrow. Girardi said he’s not worried because Rivera’s been better day by day.

• Rivera was pretty funny postgame. He said nothing had changed since pregame, so he was refusing to be interviewed. “I’ve had enough of you guys right now,” he said. He was mostly just giving everyone a hard time, but he was legitimately not interested in answering any more questions.

• Hughes has no idea when he’ll pitch again. He asked a couple of days ago, but the Yankees told him they weren’t sure yet. Now that he’s through his big league return, Hughes expects to have a plan within a day or two.

• Hughes could have kept going, but the Yankees felt he’d worked pretty hard through his 87 pitches and didn’t want to send him back out for the sixth. “(Larry Rothschild) just felt like I labored in that first and last inning a little bit,” Hughes said. “I didn’t really have an issue with it. I would have liked to have gone back out there, but we were still in the game at that point, and I wasn’t throwing the ball extremely well. Probably the right move to go to the bullpen.”

• There seems to be nothing people hate more than when Yankees hitters give credit to the opposing starter, but Masterson really was outstanding tonight. The guy throws in the mid-90s with huge sink. He throws almost all fastballs, but that’s because its such a good pitch. “It seems like his ball moves as much as anyone we’ve seen, and he’s throwing 95, 96 all night,” Jeter said.

• In the fourth inning, Masterson struck out the side. The four hitters: Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano. “You don’t see that very often,” Girardi said.

Associated Press photos (as you might guess, the AP is moving almost all Jeter photos at this point)

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217 Responses to “Postgame notes: “We know he can be better””

  1. G. Love July 7th, 2011 at 12:43 am

    I can’t get all gooey over Hughes giving us 5 innings and 80 something pitches.

    That brings the soft underbelly of our pen into the game way earlier than they should be. Why didn’t he go to 100 pitches and try to get them through the 6th? Very frustrating the way they handled him tonight.

    That said, while Hughes got the loss, the offense and the pen deserve an assist for the loss tonight.

    To hear David Cone mention that Hughes still has trouble putting hitters away with 2 strikes is the same old same old to me.

    If he’s going to be a fly ball pitch to contact guy, the Yankees should try to find a similar young pitcher in another organization to deal him for who has the potential to K batters at an acceptable rate. Although that ship has probably sailed.

    Nova wouldn’t have won the game tonight, but if Hughes was up against a more potent offense tonight he would have been out of the game before the 5th. Red Sox would have chewed him up tonight. Hopefully, he gets a lot better before he has to face them or the Rangers anytime soon.

    The pluses were he at least he threw the ball hard. It’s just getting a little worrisome that his pitches don’t have movement and his secondary stuff looks pedestrian more often than not. Velocity was a good sign I guess.

  2. Nick in SF July 7th, 2011 at 12:45 am

    So you’re hopeful?

  3. Rich in NJ July 7th, 2011 at 12:47 am

    “He had a hard time throwing his fastball for strikes,” Girardi said. “His changeup, he got swings and misses on. His curveball, he threw some strikes. He had a hard time throwing his fastball for strikes.”
    __

    Yet he left him in anyway. I know some people here take it personally when you criticize Girardi, but the guy does some inexplicable stuff.

  4. G. Love July 7th, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Nick,

    I’m nonplussed. Completely and totally nonplussed.

  5. m July 7th, 2011 at 12:53 am

    Oh, G. Love. You would have loved listening to Goose Gossage on the radio today. “You gotta let ‘em pitch. If you train a race horse to go one length, that’s all it”s going to run…The problem is the money. They invest so much money in these young guys they don’t want to take risks.”

    That’s paraphrasing, but yes, Goose did bring up the money. The host also brought up Mo and surviving on one pitch. He said most of the great relievers had one pitch. So and so had the slider, so and so had that, I had that devastating fastball.” He was complimentary of Mo, but not gushing.

    I wanted to see Phil go out for the 6th, but I understand why they pulled him. I would have liked to see them go to Noesi instead.

    I know I said I’d root for Mitre in pinstripes. But I’m hoping it won’t last. For you guys who break up with the same girl over and over, does it get easier or more difficult?

  6. Jerkface July 7th, 2011 at 12:55 am

    I want to know if so and so threw his slider 100% of the time.

  7. m July 7th, 2011 at 12:58 am

    I think it was said more with the tone of “really only had one great pitch” or something like that.

  8. G. Love July 7th, 2011 at 12:58 am

    m,

    80-something pitches just seemed way too soon to bring him out. Especially after he navigated the 5th/bases loaded. Asking a pen w/o a healthy Mo to go 4 innings is almost punting the game in my opinion.

    Hughes was up to 100 pitches in his last start. At the very least they should have gotten him closer to that number. Who’s to say he wouldn’t have thrown a 9 pitch inning or something and gotten them into the 7th?

    This is part of my issue with him. The Yankees treat him with kid gloves when he’s stretched out to 100 pitches already to not shake his confidence.

    We don’t need to treat pitchers with kid gloves. We need to let pitchers go out and win games by pitching deep into them.

    That 5th inning was a bit of a tightrope act, but he got through it. I would have sent him right back out there.

    Either way, he wasn’t horrible and he wasn’t awe inspiring. He was okay.

  9. LGY July 7th, 2011 at 12:58 am

    Hughes said rust and adrenalin might have had something to do with mechanics that were a little bit off, but that seemed fixable.

    ————————

    Is there anything Hughes won’t tie adrenaline to?

  10. Rich in NJ July 7th, 2011 at 1:00 am

    The irony is that Girardi’s loyalty/intransigence is making Mitre look worse than he is. He has a quick hook with Ayala, which is smart because he’s not good. Why not extend Mitre the same courtesy?

    And his sudden unwillingness to use Noesi is extremely disappointing, to put it charitably.

  11. G-C July 7th, 2011 at 1:01 am

    Hughes was fine.

    These are the types of outings Nova has given them all year.

    Let’s be real here. Even if this is the best Phil has (and its definitely not), they aren’t losing anything in removing Nova from the rotation.

    I’m optimistic. I think he’ll come out stronger after the break.

  12. LGY July 7th, 2011 at 1:05 am

    If he doesn’t have enough adrenaline he can’t get throw the ball hard enough. Too much adrenaline and he can’t keep his mechanics straight.

    Is there some blue pill out there that can regulate his adrenaline???

  13. Rich in NJ July 7th, 2011 at 1:06 am

    This is silly because one outing means very little, but Hughes may have been lucky with BABIP. Nova does have a GB% of 55.3.

  14. G. Love July 7th, 2011 at 1:07 am

    G-C,

    Where I prefer Nova to Hughes is that while both can’t put away hitters by K’ing them at high rates, Nova can keep the ball on the ground. Hughes is a fly ball pitcher. I’d rather have the guy keeping the ball on the ground in that scenario.

    Hughes not being a high K rate guy as a starter is just maddening. The tools are there. There’s just something that is holding him back against guys with 2 strikes. I think it’s the lack of a major plus secondary pitch right now. Everyone just sits fastball in the zone and he obliges because he has good control to keep his fastball in the zone. It’s just not overpowering.

    Everyone saying Hughes has enough fastball to win is right in a sense and wrong in a sense. His velocity would be perfect if he had the off speed repertoire to make hitters unbalanced at the plate. My biggest criticism of the way he pitches is everything in the zone looks very samey so the hitters dig in and hack.

    Where his curveball went is one of the great questions of the universe. We know where Joba’s slider went – his elbow shredded.

    I guess Hughes’ hamstring injury took away his curve.

  15. Rich in NJ July 7th, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Yeah, as I said on the last thread, that hammer curve of 2007 should be on a milk carton.

  16. G. Love July 7th, 2011 at 1:11 am

    Rich,

    It’s somewhere rotting on the field in Arlington. I’ve never seen it again.

  17. Captain Clutch July 7th, 2011 at 1:12 am

    It’s obvious that Mitre and AJ are favorites of Girardi. It amazes me that AJ gets as long as a leash as CC does. Did Noesi hook up with Girardi’s wife or something?!

  18. Pat M. July 7th, 2011 at 1:13 am

    G. Love…..I think that the dugout made the decision to sit Hughes for the 6th was a sound move…..I mean he’s only thrown what 12 innings since April 18th ???? This guy is expected to be in the rotation for many years to come…..It may not seem like this now, but come September Phil Hughes is going to be a factor for the NY Yankees

  19. Carlos July 7th, 2011 at 1:14 am

    Nova sucks.

  20. timmyb72 July 7th, 2011 at 1:19 am

    This game was lost by the Yankees’ horrendous bullpen. And freakin’ Girardi’s homo love for Sergio Mitre. Why on God’s green earth is Mitre on this team???????????????????????? I was cussing and throwing crap at the TV when I heard Logan and then Mitre being paraded like sheep to the slaughter. They absolutely suck!!! Why doesn’t Cashman realize this? And where’s the outcry about Martin now hitting .220 and Gardner below .265? Sorry but this team is only hitting .259 as a team this year? Is that acceptable?… This team was 14-4 without DJ and now they’re 1-2 with him back. He’s not a threat to steal like Nunez was, he’s not a home threat like Nunez was, Nunez was coming off a 7 for 8 streak before this series. Wow! Girardi has his head up his a$$ again, making terrible moves. God why can’t the Yankees leave well enough alone? Sorry but Hughes is soft, I like Nova’s moxie a lot more, bring back IVAN NOVA!!! Sorry but God this game pissed me off!!!

  21. Rich in NJ July 7th, 2011 at 1:20 am

    What year is this?

  22. m July 7th, 2011 at 1:26 am

    damn…

  23. Vineyard Yankee July 7th, 2011 at 1:28 am

    Chad:

    Can you please fill us in on the report made by Pedro Gomez during the ESPN broadcast tonight about Hughes having a procedure done in April to remove a cyst from his labrum.

    I can’t recall you ever posting anything about this. Is that the root to Hughes being on the DL with his loss of velocity ?

    Thanks for sharing.

  24. timmyb72 July 7th, 2011 at 1:29 am

    I also agree with what others have said in this thread, Nova can get groundball outs, and I don’t remember him getting hit as hard as Hughes was getting hit tonight. Hughes excelled as an 8th inning guy in 09 and was one of the big reasons the Yankees won the WS in 09. The bullpen as currently constructed is horrific outside of Robertson and even Mo now is a little bit of a liability. It would be wonderful if they had the 09 Hughes in the 8th, Robertson in the 7th and Mo closing when he’s healthy. Nova is a good 5th starter imo and right now the better choice as the 5th starter.

  25. Jerkface July 7th, 2011 at 1:29 am

    Nova gives up nearly as many HRs, more hits, walks more, and strikes out less than Hughes. If Hughes gets his fastball back to swing and miss territory and can grind a 15% swing and miss pitch out of his cutter/change/curve, he will be way better than Nova.

  26. m July 7th, 2011 at 1:33 am

    Hughes only got hit really hard in the first 2 innings. He calmed down, and there weren’t as many hard hit balls after that.

    He got into trouble in the 5th with 2 hit batsmen and a walk. While there weren’t many swinging strikes, the Indians were caught looking quite a bit.

    Some lazy fly balls towards the end. With men on base, give me lazy fly balls over ground outs.

  27. Pat M. July 7th, 2011 at 1:34 am

    m….Aren’t the Bronx Bombers in first place ???? I think their stats are more than just decent……I think Jones is on borrowed time and if Chavez is still not right expect Cashamn to find a lefthand inf type stick to spell him…..The bullpen will also be on the shopping list…..Soriano has to come back or otherwise it’s going to be tight come October……Moriano is tired and really should be used no more than 3 times a week at his point…..

  28. Jerkface July 7th, 2011 at 1:35 am

    While there weren’t many swinging strikes, the Indians were caught looking quite a bit.

    Some lazy fly balls towards the end. With men on base, give me lazy fly balls over ground outs.

    Hughes only got 2 strike outs, 1 on a swinging strike and 1 on a cutter looking (but was very generous). He didn’t really catch many indians looking, they were able to foul/put the ball in play with 2 strikes.

    You are right about lazy flies. Infield fly outs and pop ups are just as valuable as strike outs according to SCIENCE. Hughes being able to get K’s AND pop ups is what makes him a good pitcher, so lets hope he can balance out the K side.

  29. m July 7th, 2011 at 1:35 am

    Pat M.,

    I wasn’t swearing at the Yankees. ;)

  30. m July 7th, 2011 at 1:38 am

    I didn’t mean that guys were striking out looking left and right. I meant that sprinkled in all the other stuff, he had some nice looking called strikes.

  31. jackamir July 7th, 2011 at 1:43 am

    Hughes was hit hard. Only 2 runs but even his outs were stinging line drives. He easily could have been touched for 5 runs……

  32. m July 7th, 2011 at 1:44 am

    Ayala and Mitre took the heat off of Hughes.

    Kay said that Hughes would have to be perfect to justify, blah, blah, blah. But Masterson was too good, and our bullpen put it just out of reach.

  33. Jerkface July 7th, 2011 at 1:44 am

    I didn’t mean that guys were striking out looking left and right. I meant that sprinkled in all the other stuff, he had some nice looking called strikes.

    Eh, I’m having a hard time looking at that as a positive. Pretty much all pitchers can pick up strike 1 and strike 2 looking over the course of a start. Its strike 3 thats the hard one. He actually had less than the major league average for called strikes. (24% vs 28%)

  34. m July 7th, 2011 at 1:46 am

    Yes, Hughes could easily have given up 5 runs. But he only got blistered in the first 2 innings. After that he worked around leadoff runners, and put 3 men on in the 5th with the ball even being put into play.

    So, yes, 8 men were put on and stranded. But he did well to strand them.

  35. Rich in NJ July 7th, 2011 at 1:47 am

    If Chavez comes back, it probably won’t be for long. I wish it were otherwise, but there is no rational basis to believe that he will ever remain healthy for long.

    “If Hughes gets his fastball back to swing and miss territory and can grind a 15% swing and miss pitch out of his cutter/change/curve, he will be way better than Nova.”

    True, if he does. That’s why we are beating this death based on scant facts.

  36. m July 7th, 2011 at 1:47 am

    He had 24% tonight?

  37. jackamir July 7th, 2011 at 1:48 am

    Mitre for sure has some pictures of Girardi somewhere…. There has to be somebody somewhere in the organization with better stuff.

  38. Jerkface July 7th, 2011 at 1:48 am

    14 called strikes out of 57 strikes.

  39. m July 7th, 2011 at 1:50 am

    14 called strikes, 2 swinging, and the rest were fouls or balls put in play?

  40. Rich in NJ July 7th, 2011 at 1:50 am

    So since Chavez likely won’t be back, and the offense from some of the regulars, who shall remain nameless, is in question, I think Beltran is a near necessity.

  41. Jerkface July 7th, 2011 at 1:52 am

    14 called strikes, 2 swinging, and the rest were fouls or balls put in play?

    Yes

  42. jackamir July 7th, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Beltran would be sweet and dump Gardner. 4th outfielder at best. He does little for me..

  43. Rich in NJ July 7th, 2011 at 1:55 am

    Gardner is hardly the weakest offensive link on the team, and he is their best defensive player.

  44. m July 7th, 2011 at 1:56 am

    The swinging strikes is yuck, but he wasn’t significantly worse in the looking category.

    I think we’ve analyzed Hughes’ first start about as much as we can…

    But I’m serious about Mitre. Not sure what it is about him, but I feel ill when he takes the mound.

  45. UnKnown July 7th, 2011 at 1:57 am

    I have not been following too closely, but is Beltran even all that healthy??

  46. jackamir July 7th, 2011 at 1:58 am

    Gardner is the most overrated player on this team. A corner OF with no punch. I would trade him now while his rep is still decent.

  47. Rich in NJ July 7th, 2011 at 1:59 am

    Yeah, he’s overrated, unless facts matter.

  48. Rich in NJ July 7th, 2011 at 2:00 am

    Beltran has played 84 games and has a 154 OPS+

  49. Rich in NJ July 7th, 2011 at 2:01 am

    85, he played tonight and had 2 hits.

  50. UnKnown July 7th, 2011 at 2:02 am

    So he is healthy. OK. I just remember him having some injury issues, but I guess that is in the past.

  51. jackamir July 7th, 2011 at 2:02 am

    What facts? He doesn’t drive in runs, he strikes out too much, he stalls the line behind him. He is average at best.

  52. Rich in NJ July 7th, 2011 at 2:04 am

    Like OPS+. Before tonight’s game it was 106, higher than Posada, Martin, and Jeter.

  53. m July 7th, 2011 at 2:05 am

    Lots of teams would like Gardner. And he gives great value. And is playing better than his Boston counterpart, even when Crawford was healthy.

  54. Rich in NJ July 7th, 2011 at 2:06 am

    His WAR is the 3rd highest on the Yankees.

  55. jackamir July 7th, 2011 at 2:06 am

    Gardner has got you all fooled.. If he was on another team he would be a parttime starter. There are 100 players that have his skills.

  56. Rich in NJ July 7th, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Right. Facts have me fooled but you have a superior sense that relies on non-facts.

  57. Rich in NJ July 7th, 2011 at 2:09 am

    I’m out. GN

  58. jackamir July 7th, 2011 at 2:12 am

    I watch every game and I see he is not going to be a huge factor in the success of this team… Trade him now.. Get another bat, one that will be productive.

  59. jackamir July 7th, 2011 at 2:14 am

    War, what is good for. Nothing…

  60. jacksquat July 7th, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Jerkface July 7th, 2011 at 1:29 am
    Nova gives up nearly as many HRs, more hits, walks more, and strikes out less than Hughes. If Hughes gets his fastball back to swing and miss territory and can grind a 15% swing and miss pitch out of his cutter/change/curve, he will be way better than Nova.

    I don’t think Hughes looked better than Nova *tonight* though. However he *should/could* be better, we’ll have to see a few more starts.

  61. Pat M. July 7th, 2011 at 2:35 am

    Bottom line 2 runs 5 innings = 3.50 era

  62. stuart a July 7th, 2011 at 2:43 am

    i will decode all the BS. sergio Mitre stinks, now and always will stink.

    boone logan is avg. at best. the guy has almost never gotten a big out in 2 seasons with the yanks.

    cano is a hack. he swings at the first pitch all the time and causes others to have to adjust all the time to his lack of patience….

    can arod drive a ball????

  63. stuart a July 7th, 2011 at 2:45 am

    yep jackamir a 100 players who have gardners talent.

    i know many leftfielders can get to balls gardner routine makes and many of them like johnny damon can throw as well as gardner.

    give me a break, gardner or swisher are the best leadoff hitters on the team. the guy leading off should hit 9th and anyone with a brain knows that. how long do they need to pay for the old jeter? they gave him a $51 mill gift already. Jeter on the open market would get $3 mill a year or less…………..

  64. West Coast Yankee Fan July 7th, 2011 at 2:47 am

    Jerkface July 7th, 2011 at 1:44 am

    “It’s strike 3 thats the hard one.”

    **************************

    Maybe the dumbest comment that I have ever seen here.

  65. m July 7th, 2011 at 2:50 am

    Where are all these 100 players? Or 99 players. Crawford’s on the DL.

  66. UnKnown July 7th, 2011 at 2:51 am

    So when do we go and get Gaudin back again. Might as well try and get the band back together again.

    Mitre = Pathetic

  67. Cashmoney July 7th, 2011 at 5:48 am

    Does Girardi have a man crush on Mitre…. turned the tv on …. there he is ….bad with the yanks…expletives.

    later all

  68. Mike Ri July 7th, 2011 at 6:33 am

    So agree with you guys ….. . Meat Tray sucks ! … We did fine without the guy for most of the season. Why the Yanks keep resigning him and why Girardi keeps putting him in is beyond me .

    I love Girardi but when he put Meat Tray in there .. it ticked me off . . we were only down 3 stinking runs.. Putting Meat Tray in there is like waiving the white flag.

    But I do tip the cap to Masterson !

  69. alvarofer July 7th, 2011 at 6:35 am

    I just don’t understand how the misuse or lack of use of Hector Noesi is not a bigger story. This is a guy who had 140+ IP in 2010 who can be a starter but Sergio Mitre gets preference over him? Next year he won’t be an option for the starting roation for the lack of IP.

  70. Gary July 7th, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Morning, well that was ugly last night in quite a few catagories. Yanks haven’t played well especially in the late innings in 3 of the last 4 games and lost 3 of 4. The Sux have now come back into a virtual tie for first. Early in the game the throw into left field by Martin and the K by Jorge with 2nd and third and 1 out kind of set the tone. It was 2 big runs. Hopefully they come home and have a good series against the Rays. Last two games could be pivotable as it’s Price and Shields vrs AJ and CC.

  71. Yankee Trader July 7th, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Good morning all,
    The last two games against the Rays are also day games, so if their league best record, by a wide margin, holds true, they’ll have a decent chance of winning those 2 against two of the best pitchers in the AL. Plus Yankees hit better against lefties, also having the league best record.

  72. upstate kate July 7th, 2011 at 7:43 am

    Price has been struggling lately, and I would take CC over anyone, so I am hopeful.

  73. Yankee Trader July 7th, 2011 at 7:46 am

    From a 2007 summer article I had saved written in Hardball Times. Will Hughes ever regain the fastball and curve that projected him as being a staff ace? I’ll attach the entire article after this read.

    Hughes’ ace-like projections are based solely off of one pitch: an uber-strong fastball, typically a four-seamer but also with some two-seam stuff mixed in. It tops out at 96 mph and regularly sits in the 91-95 mph zone. Combine that with plus command and you have a top-draw strike out pitch. Let’s define plus command. Simply put, he can place the ball exactly where he wants when he wants while hurling 95 mph gas. This command and power combination will sit at the cornerstone of Hughes’ success or failure for years to come. If he becomes a Hall-of-Fame caliber pitcher it will be because of this, likewise if he sinks to obscurity. He launches the fastball around 60-70% of the time.

    Hughes has a plus 12-6/1-7 curveball that supplements his fastball; he throws the curve 20-30% of the time. Incredibly when he was drafted Hughes didn’t have a curveball but Yankees minor league pitching coach, Nardi Contreras, made him swap his slider for a curve largely to reduce pressure on the arm that the slider imparts. You’d have thought it would have taken a while for Hughes to master the pitch wouldn’t you? No. Within a few months, and after a bit of help from Mike Mussina, Hughes had one of the finest curves in the minors. This ability to quickly learn new pitches is also why many suspect he’ll age well. What he’ll lose in velocity he should more than make up for in guile. Oh, and did I mentioned he has Zito-esque control of the pitch. Want it above the zone? Or prefer it in the dirt? Or want him to pain the top-left corner? Nine times out of 10, Hughes will hit the spot.

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/m.....ip-hughes/

  74. blake July 7th, 2011 at 7:47 am

    I think we can consider last night a positive 1st step for Hughes. He struggled a lot early but bounced back and held the score at 2-0 for 4 more innings. That’s the positive and you figure that he’ll look sharper in his next outing.

    That said, a lot of the same issues he had last season were still there…..could have just been because its early in his return….but he’s got to find a pitch to fool hitters with…make them chase , and get some swings and misses. The current curveball he’s throwing has too much velocity differential from his fastball (18-20) and the hitters are recognizing it rift out of his hand…..that needs to be his primary out pitch….a sharper, harder, and tighter curveball (DRob). I thought the changeup was ok…..he threw some good ones and the cutter was what it is…..a pitch he throws well at times and a pitch that stays flat and has a hit me sign on it. He has to either reduce the number of clunker cutters he throws…..or junk the pitch all together because he gets beat on it way too much.

    All in all it was a positive outing though and hopefully he will improve upon it next time.

  75. Bronx Jeers July 7th, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Next year he won’t be an option for the starting roation for the lack of IP.

    ——————————————————————————————————-

    I would think that in order for him or anybody from the farm to be a legitimate candidate the Yanks would need Nova and Hughes to be rock solid members of the rotation. Unless they trade for a titan.

    It’s very difficult to break in all these starters and reach the playoffs every year.

  76. blake July 7th, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Id be interested to see the avg velo on the curve he threw in the minors.

  77. pat July 7th, 2011 at 7:56 am

    This might explain why Chavez first had back pain and then abdominal pain ……

    Infielder Eric Chavez was diagnosed with a kidney stone that passed and he was sent from New York to Tampa to continue working out.

    http://www.nypost.com/p/sports.....z1RQ5MmB00

  78. NYY fan in NH July 7th, 2011 at 7:59 am

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  79. Yankee Trader July 7th, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Good morning-

    I attached a 2007 article plus comments about Hughes fastball and curve.
    I give him a grade of C- last night. Facing a team that ranks in bottom third in BA in AL, without Choo. Ranks near the top in batters strikeouts.

    Masterson has so much movement on his fastball. I didn’t see that from Hughes.

  80. Yankee Trader July 7th, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Id be interested to see the avg velo on the curve he threw in the minors.

    —————————
    Blake-
    I saw the last 2.1 innings of Hughes last minor league start on Trenton tv. There were no radar guns, but he snapped off a few 12 to 6 curves that AAA batters missed and had that high fastball strike to strikeout a few batters.

  81. upstate kate July 7th, 2011 at 8:03 am

    That sounds like good news on Chavez. At least there is a reason for his back/abd pain.

  82. Bronx Jeers July 7th, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Good news on Chavez.

  83. blake July 7th, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Really think the Yanks should try and work a deal for Beltran if possible. He hits righties very well still and with the inconsistency that Swisher and Gardner have shown this year and the risk that Jorge could fall off again I think it would be a great pick up. He could play nearly every day either in LF, RF, or at DH……

  84. Yankee Trader July 7th, 2011 at 8:08 am

    I had a kidney stone and it gave me a better understanding of how uncomfortable it is for a woman having natural childbirth. If you pull your lower lip above your forehead, you’ll understand what Chavez went thru. :)

  85. 108 stitches July 7th, 2011 at 8:09 am

    No need to keep Mitre or Jones around any longer. There’s better options right at AAA in Kontos / Gordon and Golson.

  86. blake July 7th, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Trader,

    Thanks for that article. Masterson was nasty last night….there are nights when losses are on the offense (Doug Davis) but last night wasn’t one. He was tough.

  87. blake July 7th, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Mitre is fine as somebody to throw when the game is over….but he shouldn’t ever be used in spots like last night. He’s a mop up man who’s purpose is to eat innings and allow prospects to pitch every 5 days in the minors…..

  88. Betsy July 7th, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Phil’s mechanics seem to be off an awful lot for a guy people were always praising for having very repeatable mechanics.

    It was an ok return, nothing more. His velocity was ok, but no swinging strikes with his FB is not good – and only 1 each on his change and curve? Also not good. A better offensive team would have killed him.

    Glad I missed Goose – I’m not a fan. He’s the Yankees version of Jim Rice, bitter as all get out, esp. about Mo.

  89. upstate kate July 7th, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I agree 108
    I try really hard to be supportive of all the Yankee players, but I am having a hard time w/ Jones, and I am wondering why Mitre is back.

  90. Yankee Trader July 7th, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Blake-

    I think the primary need is a solid reliever who if a righty gets lefties out. I don’t believe one will come from the SWB team. Kontos was hit hard last night, brackman has been awful, Norton is out for the year.

    I don’t see the Yankees maintaining top AL ranking in relief ERA with a bullpen consisting of some combination of these, other than DRob and Mo:

    Ayala-stats look great on paper-seeing him pitch in a close game instills little confidence
    Soriano-what will we get ?
    Mitre
    Pendleton
    Carlyle
    Noesi
    Logan
    Randy Flores
    Whelan
    Wade
    Gordon

  91. Betsy July 7th, 2011 at 8:19 am

    It was absolutely the right move to take him out – why push him? Those were a very hard 86 pitches he threw – they weren’t easy on him at all.

    As to his curve, we have to remember that we saw it for one game – that’s it. Who’s to say if he’d stayed healthy that curve would have remained? I get that he missed a lot of time, but IMO, the biggest culprit is Phil’s constant need to tinker with grips – on his curve, his change and even his cutter at times. His K rates normally are ok – I’m not sure what is considered to be particularly good, though.

  92. Triple Short of a Cycle July 7th, 2011 at 8:21 am

    I can’t stand Goose for the way he talks about Mo and the 1 inning closer in general. So its Mo’s fault he pitches in this age of baseball? Believe me if Mo was around in the 70′s he would be pitching 2 and 3 inning saves just like the great Goose

  93. MTU July 7th, 2011 at 8:22 am

    YT-

    I’m sure they’re looking.

    ;)

  94. blake July 7th, 2011 at 8:24 am

    The Yankee pen is really an issue right now. Every team has middle relief issues but the Yankee pen right now is filled with Robertson, Rivera, mediocrity, worse than mediocrity ,and a guy Giradi wont pitch (Noesi).

    Nobody seems to know when/if Soriano is going to return…..that would certainly help. Joba’s injury is looming large right now and until reinforcements arrive the Yanks are going struggle to hold teams down unless the starter goes 7……they have to either give Noesi a more prominent role or send him down…..

  95. Betsy July 7th, 2011 at 8:25 am

    That article is where I get puzzled with Phil………..he’s generally between 91-93, not 95 – he doesn’t hit 95 a lot. Does he have plus command? In ST and early this year, Phil himself said he can’t get by with no velocity as his command isn’t good enough.

    Wait, so Moose helped him with his curve in the minors? The whole evolution of this pitch confuses me. I don’t know what he threw in the minors, but in 2009 he came to camp with a power curve……….then, being in the pen threw everything out of whack. He didn’t throw it much, but when he did, hitters hit it – I remember CB discussing this subject several times.

    Phil has a good FB when it’s on, but it’s not this incredible pitch like the article described. For whatever reason, he’s not the same pitcher.

  96. Mell July 7th, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Believe me if Mo was around in the 70?s he would be pitching 2 and 3 inning saves just like the great Goose

    =====================

    Probably true. Probably wouldn’t have been doing at such a high rate of success for 15+ years though.

  97. Woohoo for Casey July 7th, 2011 at 8:26 am

    This is so exciting! Casey Anthony is set to be released from jail in the next 24 hours!!! Justice was done! BOOM!

  98. Yankee Trader July 7th, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Blake-

    I thnk Beltran would be the bat that would be just what the doctor ordered. The Yankees might be amongst the best in runs scored, however most of them are within the 1st 6 innings. How many comebacks in the last 2 innings have you seen this year? 2? 3? 4?

    Drawback on Beltran wuld be the remainder of his salary+ the prospects the mets would want on top of that.

  99. Betsy July 7th, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Noesi should be in the minors, starting – what a complete waste of an arm.

  100. blake July 7th, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Trader,

    I think the thing that will cost the least in prospects is to take K Rod off the Mets hands…..and if you can get Beltran in the same deal then even better. I know K Rod is a risk but he shouldn’t cost really anything in prospects and he can get guys out. I think some of the other guys like Bell or Adams will cost too much.

  101. MTU July 7th, 2011 at 8:27 am

    By the way, just for the record, outside of the one AJ throws I am not a fan of the knuckle, or spike curve.

    The really good curve you saw Hughes throw was probably produced by him using a more conventional grip.

    For whatever reason he seems to prefer this one, and it generally produces the slow loopy curve you see.

    Similar to the way Mussina threw his.

    Betsy is absolutely correct IMO when she points out that Hughes likes to experiment with differing grips, and that may be a detriment to him in the long run.

  102. blake July 7th, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Nobody in the 70s had ever seen a cutter……I feel pretty confident that Rivera would have had more success in Goose’s era than Goose would today.

  103. blake July 7th, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Trader,

    Would the Mets give a discount on the prospects involved if they could dump the salary of both KRod and beltran in one deal?

  104. Erin July 7th, 2011 at 8:32 am

    I didn’t think Hughes did too badly last night (and it was nice finally seeing him back on the mound). Mitre, on the other hand…..

    LOL

  105. Betsy July 7th, 2011 at 8:32 am

    MTU, I think the Yankees need to put their foot down with Phil. He needs to find a GOOD grip for the curve and stick with it ……… Rothschild is not familiar with a healthy Phil, so I’m not sure any changes will be made until he can gather more info, but after they’ve had a chance to get acquainted as it were, some changes need to be made.

  106. Erin July 7th, 2011 at 8:33 am

    jimbaumbach Jury selection in Clemens trial resumes at 9. Judge is looking to approve about 30 more folks before both sides can start eliminating some.

    jimbaumbach No court on Friday in this Clemens trial so this jury selection process will carry over into Monday, at least.

    jimbaumbach I’ll be on MLB Radio on XM with Rob Dibble & Jim Memolo in a few minutes to talk Clemens trial.

  107. MTU July 7th, 2011 at 8:34 am

    “they have to either give Noesi a more prominent role or send him down…..”

    I’d like to see it too. More use or a return to the minors.

    Preferably the former.

  108. Betsy July 7th, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Mo wouldn’t have a cutter in the 70′s, but he’s so great that he would have been fantastic anyway.

  109. Yankee Trader July 7th, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Phil has a good FB when it’s on, but it’s not this incredible pitch like the article described. For whatever reason, he’s not the same pitcher.

    Betsy-

    The article from the Hardball Times written in summer of 2007 that was posted earlier at 7:46, projected Hughes as a future ace. I’m not sure Hughes will ever be that ace.

  110. Erin July 7th, 2011 at 8:38 am

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  111. Betsy July 7th, 2011 at 8:38 am

    YT, I know that – he’s not the pitcher that he apparently was in the minors. Also, that article was total hyperbole – a near HOFer based on a good FB and curve?

    I think he can be a solid, nice reliable starter eventually, but IMO it’s going to take a lot of work for him to get there.

  112. MTU July 7th, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Betsy-

    We talked about patience last night.

    Some just have lost theirs with Hughes.

    They see only negatives when there are clearly positives as well.

    As far as what he does with his curve. Most of that is up to him.

    He needs to find what’s effective and stick with it.

    FWIS, I would like to see him a FB, CB, CU kind of guy.

    Minimal use of the cutter.

    He was rusty last night. He’ll improve. If he doesn’t he’ll be replaced.

    As with all our young arms I want him to succeed because that way the whole team wins.

    :)

  113. GreenBeret7 July 7th, 2011 at 8:40 am

    After than a couple of simulated games, some bullpen sessions and 14 innings, Hughes pitched pretty well after the first inning last night, regardless of what The LoHud Black Cloud and the two illegitimate children of King James say. He had some hard hit balls, some easy outs and allowed 3 singles, 1 walk and 2 hit batters in 4 innings. He was throwing nearly as hard at the end as at the beginning. Control was his main issue. These two idiots talked about nothing but Hughes’ failures while pining away for more of Mitre and how great he was for a year of games while blowing off 8 years of miserable failure.

  114. Betsy July 7th, 2011 at 8:41 am

    MTU, some of those comments were downright mean. I’ve seen this on other boards – Phil is now yesterday’s news and there is NO patience with him. Fans love Nova and have had their fill of Phil.

  115. Woohoo for Casey July 7th, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Isnt anyone else pumped for the release of Casey?! This is so exciting! There is justice in this country! I still cant believe the jury got it right!

  116. Yankee Trader July 7th, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Blake-

    K-Rod and Beltran?? Don’t see the Yankees taking on that much $$$$

    Beltran salary and contract. Did not include all the performance clauses.

    11:$18.5M
    full no-trade clause

    $22M ($5.5M annually from 2008-11 salaries) deferred at 1.72% compounded interest
    ——————————–

    Rodriguez:

    11: $11.5M 12:$17.5M option ($3.5M buyout)

    2012 option becomes guaranteed with:
    55 games finished in 2011, and

    100 games finished in 2010-11, and
    doctors declare Rodriguez healthy after 2011

    Rodriguez receives $3.5M termination buyout if 2012 option does not become guaranteed
    annual performance bonuses, 2009-11:

    $0.15M each for 50, 55 GF; $0.2M for 60 GF
    2012 performance bonuses:

    $0.3M each for 50, 55 GF; $0.4M for 60 GF
    limited no-trade clause allowing Rodriguez to block deals to 10 clubs

  117. Benny Blanco July 7th, 2011 at 8:43 am

    I still believe its two early to speculate whether or not phil will be an ace or not

    When cliff lee, jared weaaver, roy halladay were 25 years old were they considered future aces?? Its very difficult to tell. At some point in phils career he will make the needed adjustments and become a better pitcher..

  118. Benny Blanco July 7th, 2011 at 8:43 am

    too early*

  119. MTU July 7th, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Betsy-

    It may sound like it but I am not a Hughes apologist nor am I a fanboy.

    My sole interest is in seeing the Yankees develop as many quality young arms as they can.

    They’ve invested a lot of time and energy in Hughes. It would be nice if he succeeds and it all could come to fruition.

    That said, He is part of a team. If, after a reasonable chance, he cannot produce what is needed as a starter another role for him may be found.

    Or, he may simply be replaced, or traded.

    More time is needed to make those decisions IMO.

    We’re gonna see how it goes.

  120. Woohoo for Casey July 7th, 2011 at 8:49 am

    what

  121. Howard July 7th, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Trying. So. Hard.
    Please go away.

  122. Yankee Trader July 7th, 2011 at 8:52 am

    GB-

    Do you agree that one of the biggest needs now is a quality reliever as a one inning bridge in close games to DRob and Mo and who can get both lefties and righties out?

    Kontos was rocked last night, Brackman gave up another run also. Is there anyone else in the minors who would be an asset in the bullpen? I’m not comfortable with Ayala as that bridge despite his good numbers. Who knows what the Yankees will get with Soriano-sulky 2010 version or sulky my elbow hurts 2011 disabled list version?

  123. Howard July 7th, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Do you agree that one of the biggest needs now is a quality reliever as a one inning bridge in close games to DRob and Mo and who can get both lefties and righties out?

    I think that’s probably the most coveted guy in baseball right now…

  124. blake July 7th, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Why wouldn’t Mo have had a cutter in the 70′s? He didn’t try to throw it…..it just happened and he was the guy that brought it to prominence now.

  125. Yankee Trader July 7th, 2011 at 9:00 am

    New post—>

  126. GreenBeret7 July 7th, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Trader, yes, I’d take an 8th inning guy that coulsspell Rivera on occassion over a bat. Not sure who it would be, though. Perhaps Mike Adams is that arm. Not sure bringing in Bell is the answer, though. He’s outstanding, but, a third closer and two out of position won’t work. I still think that Breslow and Ziegler would be a good comination to pick up, but, really, it comes right back to Soriano’s return. I really like Robertson and his strikeouts, but those walks could come back to bite him in the post season.

    Kontos has a good fastball, but usually t’s straight as a string. With Brackman, the patience has to be wearing pretty thin.

  127. Mell July 7th, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Do you agree that one of the biggest needs now is a quality reliever as a one inning bridge in close games to DRob and Mo and who can get both lefties and righties out?

    =================================

    I’m sure the organziation is hopeful that a healthy Soriano will be that guy. As Howard suggests, what you’re talking about is something a lot of teams need. Hate to see them overpay for a reliever in trade when they’ve already overpaid for one in cash.

  128. Erin July 7th, 2011 at 9:02 am

    New Post- Jeter: “I would think it would be kind of fun”

    :arrow:

  129. austinmac July 7th, 2011 at 9:02 am

    I don’t think Hughes showed signs of any more shoulder difficulties last night, but he was the pitcher we saw in the second half of last year and not the first half. He had no swing and misses on his best pitch, the fastball. That is not a good sign. Without that ability, he will be so-so at best.

    I read din one of the NY papers today, the Yankees have no interest in Beltran, but the Red Sox are very interested. Great.

    I am trying to envision a significant addition and see none. Their are too many teams still in the race and too many teams needing bullpen help. The Yankees don’t show signs they will use their financial power. I do wonder if the diminishing crowds compared to years gone by has made them more cautious with their money.

  130. blake July 7th, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Trader,

    Its prorated though …..thud be taking on 15 or 16 million with those 2 guys and it would only be for the rest of the season. They might prefer that to trading away a good prospect in another deal…..

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