Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hughes loss for progress

Joel Sherman, who banged the drum for the Yankees to sign Johan Santana, has no need to gloat and doesn't. But he is right: it is time to demote Phil Hughes.

The 21-year old Yankee starter, who began living up to his phenom billing toward the end of last year and in his brilliant playoff relief appearance after Roger Clemens spit the bit, has been awful this year. His command is terrible (13 BB, 22 IP), he can't get strikeouts (13 in 22 IP for a power pitcher), he's allowing more than 2 hits +/or walks per inning and opponent OPS is .947 -- that's abysmal. He has better ability than Jon Lester, the Redsux starter who has pitched great all season, but something has not clicked. Simply stated, and it pains me to say this because I'm cheering on the kid and hoping he reaches his preposterously high potential, Hughes sucks right now.

And for that reason, he doesn't belong in the major leagues. Joe Girardi can claim the mound is the same distance away in the Scranton ballpark, but so what? Hughes will get additional attention at the AAA team and should be able to restore his confidence and effectiveness. Look at how Cliff Lee responded to his 2007 demotion after stinking up a spot in the Indians rotation (5-8, 6.29, 17 HR in only 97 IP) -- barring a horrid outing tonight, Lee should be the pitcher of the month for April because he's 4-0 and has allowed just 11 hits in 31.2 IP with a ridiculous ERA of 0.28 and only 2 BB but 29K! Those numbers are better than Clemens put up in his warmup outings in the minors!

Hughes needs time, effort and work, but there's no way a 21-year old kid can get right in New York (and his career home/away splits show he's terrible at The Stadium but a killer on the road). So the course is clear - demote him, promote Darrell Rasner (who'd pitched decently well last year before an injury quashed his season and who's pitching brilliantly in AAA) and work Hughes back later in the year.

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