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What should the Yankees do with Phil Hughes?

Apr 9, 2011, 10:55 AM EDT

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Getty Images

Phil Hughes was flat-out awful against the Red Sox yesterday, giving up six runs on seven hits — including a home run — and two walks over just two innings. He now has an ugly 16.50 ERA through his first two turns in the starting rotation, but more alarming is that the velocity on his fastball was once again nowhere to be found.

According to Brooks Baseball, while Hughes topped out at 92 mph yesterday, he averaged just 89.84 mph on his fastball. He averaged 92.6 mph on his fastball last season. Also telling is that 30 of his 47 pitches yesterday were cutters, a pitch that was his third option in most cases last season.

The Yankees insist that the 24-year-old right-hander is healthy, so where do they go from here? Send him to the bullpen? The minors? Joe Girardi tells Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York not so fast.

“It is way too early to consider that,” the Yankees manager said. “Phil Hughes won 18 games for us last year. He threw the ball outstanding. I’m not thinking about that.”

Fair enough. Perhaps this is just an issue with arm strength, something that could be remedied by long-tossing and additional bullpen sessions. The Yankees’ starting rotation is already pretty thin, so Hughes should at least get a couple more opportunities to right himself. But if he’s still throwing like this later this month, it’s fair to wonder whether they will remove him from the rotation in favor of Kevin Millwood, who has an opt-out date of May 1 in his minor league contract.

  1. Old Gator - Apr 9, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    Soylent Green or ethanol! What other profitable options do the Steinbrenners have? To part him out on the transplant organ black market violates MLB rules, and no one would have a use for that right arm anyway.

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 9, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    Perhaps Freddy Garcia is not the one who needs a start skipped this week. Maybe having a sim game to get his arm strength would help him without hurting the Yankees.

  3. tbdevilrayfan - Apr 9, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    They need to DL him, like the Angels did with Kazmir…give him 15 days rest, then a couple rehab starts to see if the rest helps his velocity.
    If it doesn’t, then they can panic.
    They won’t make the playoffs without an effective Phil Hughes!

    • pisano - Apr 9, 2011 at 12:31 PM

      That might be an answer, they can’t keep running him out there to get his ass kicked every fifth day. I hate to say it, but at this point Colon is a better choice than Hughes. He can at least give you 5 to 6 innings. I think there maybe some physical problem that he’s not disclosing. Time will tell.

  4. jonpaulklein - Apr 9, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    Sucks they gave up on Ian Kennedy so quick…. Phil Hughes is a product of getting 20 runs a game gotta be bice

    • Kevin S. - Apr 9, 2011 at 4:36 PM

      Why does it suck? Kennedy is a fringe starter in the NL West. He wouldn’t be able to handle the AL East.

      It sucks that they gave up on Joba Chamberlain so quick…

      • henryd3rd - Apr 10, 2011 at 1:22 PM

        Yeah; they gave up on Joba Chamberlain too quickly. Who’s that new guy that the Yankees turn to in the seventh inning? I can’t remember his name; but he has become their 7th inning option/specialist in that killer bullpen ahead of Soriano and Rivera. I am so glad they gave up on Joba; because he sucks.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 10, 2011 at 1:45 PM

        As a starter, knucklehead. The 2009 season, which apparently sealed his fate as a starter, might well be as good as the third-best season the Yanks get from a starter this year. Glad the Yankees got a second guy to lock down the seventh inning with Robertson, though. Totally not wasting anything there.

    • henryd3rd - Apr 10, 2011 at 1:03 PM

      Ian Kennedy was a sub 500 pticher while pitching for the Yankees. Never seemed to be able to get past the 5th inning and gave up big hits in critical situations. He’s better suited pitching in the National Leagues Least and padding his numbers like another former Yankees Javier Vasquez and try his hand again in the killer American League East and get his brains knocked out again upon his return. Dude just didn’t have what it takes.

      • purdueman - Apr 10, 2011 at 3:17 PM

        henry… another good post.

        Soft pitchers and fly ball pitchers flock to the NL West because Petco Park is the 4th largest park west of the Mississippi (right behind Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon), night games at Dodger Stadium are almost as friendly to pitchers, statistically the D-Backs yard has proven to be a pitchers park and Coors (now that they humidify the baseballs), is no longer a band box.

        Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Clayton Richard, Jon Garland, Ted Lily…. all of these guys would get lit up like the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza at Christmastime if they pitched in the AL East.

  5. yankeesfanlen - Apr 9, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Anything But Millwood. Really if they want to rest him a while, put Colon and Garcia in the rotation for a couple of weeks, it’s only 3-4 starts.Although, if they put Kevin in, they will beg for Phil back, as-is.

  6. baseballstars - Apr 9, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    People tend to forget that outside of the first seven games of last season, Hughes’ ERA was in the AJ Burnett-territory.

    I’m all for sending him to Triple A in the hopes that he dominates down there, building up his trade value so we can get a decent pitcher in return. I’ve given up hope for him (though I understand others haven’t). Yeah, he won 18 games last year, but that was due to the fact the Yankees gave him 6.5 runs per game, the best run support of any major league pitcher.

    I hope I’m wrong, but other than one postseason start against the Twins, he looked very bad last year (sans the beginning of the season). How many second chances does he get until the Yankees realize he’s not what going to be what they want/need him to be?

    • baseballstars - Apr 9, 2011 at 1:46 PM

      Sorry, that last sentence should read “…until the Yankees realize he’s not going to be what they want/need him to be?”

  7. uyf1950 - Apr 9, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    One more outing like the past 2 for Hughes and I think he will lose his spot in the starting rotation at least for a little while. Just my opinion.

    • henryd3rd - Apr 10, 2011 at 1:29 PM

      Back in the day we’d have heard from George by now. Geradi’s office phone would have been ringing off the wall and Cashman would have been exiled to Tampa for the months of April and May. And forget the back pages of the tabloids; they would have been falling over themselves getting out extra editions with George’s quotes. Miss that dude! He made the entire baseball season memorable.

      • purdueman - Apr 10, 2011 at 3:09 PM

        henryd… no matter what anybody says, old Georgie Porgy was indeed good for baseball. NOTHING was more entertaining in all of sports than when King George had one of his classic nuclear meltdowns, immediately followed by a giant hissy temper tantrum! I miss those days too!!!

        Now all we get is Hank slipping outside to choke down another heater or two, followed by :”cough, cough” and a dirty stare!

  8. paperlions - Apr 9, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    I don’t see how “arm strength” would be a problem….arm speed most assuredly is a problem, but that has little to do with strength, per se. It sounds more like a physical issue (which could be related to the shoulder or elbow) or a mechanical issue that is sapping some of his arm speed.

    • genericcommenter - Apr 9, 2011 at 3:15 PM

      Good point. There is a lot more involved in speed than strength, and it is possible to have a very strong arm and pitch slow as hell.

  9. genericcommenter - Apr 9, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    I guess he needs to get his arm strength up or learn how to pitch like the numerous good/great pitchers before him who got people out with <90 fastballs.

  10. baseballisboring - Apr 9, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    Send him back to the minor leagues for a bit, I mean they have TONS of starting pitching depth. Oh wait…

    • purdueman - Apr 10, 2011 at 7:40 AM

      The minors? Oh-hhhh! You mean ship his useless ass off to the D-Backs! Good call!!!

  11. king3319 - Apr 9, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    Yankeesfanlen..I couldn’t agree with you more!!! Millwood is not the answer, the way Colon pitched why not give him a start?!!! Paperlions I have to disagree slightly…arm strength is a bigger factor than most think..while pitching in college my arm started to go dead for no apparent reason..still can’t explain it almost 20 years later but when arm strength starts to go you see velocity go down and yesterday the most telling is the breaking ball has no “bite”. So I’m not gonna panic yet but he needs rest the idea of putting him on the DL for 15 is a pretty good idea.

  12. purdueman - Apr 10, 2011 at 7:34 AM

    What should the Yankees do with Phil Hughes? Give him a wedgie out the door and ship him to Arizona where he can be reunited with Ian Kennedy, that’s what! Carlos Silva, your table is ready!!!!

  13. henryd3rd - Apr 10, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    Carlos Silva was a serviceable pitcher when Larry Rothchild was his pitching coach. Maybe just maybe he’ll resurrect his career when reunited with him? If not the Yankees just have to pay him the minor league minimum. Nothing ventured nothing lost. Surprising that no National League took a flyer on him considering the dearth of pitching in that league and he seems more suited for the National League play.

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