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August 24, 2006

August 23rd @ The Mariners

What can possibly be said about Worm Killer Wang that hasn't already been said this year? If you want to say that "Mussina=Schilling" and "Johnson=Beckett," then Wang is the difference between the Yankees and the Red Sox this year. And, it's a big difference.

Watching the Yankees man-handle "King Felix" last night (who, this time last year, was the best pitching prospect in baseball) and how the Yankees battered the Red Sox pitching prospect jewels Craig Hansen and Jon Lester this past series in Boston, is actually a good primer for Yankees fans to (again) level set their expectations on Philip Hughes.

It's one thing to star in the minors and it's another thing to get that to translate into big league success.

And, it also tells you how special it is to see Wang doing what he's doing now - just in his second year.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at August 24, 2006 09:26 AM


Steve, this is by far my favorite Yankee blog on the 'Net, but I find it truly annoying how you constantly flog this "don't get your expectations too high for Phil Hughes" line. Hughes is a better prospect than Lester, and certainly Hansen (if you want to compare Lester to someone, make it another reliever, like Cox, Melancon or Robertson). Felix is also still a great pitcher. If the Mariners want to trade him, I'd take him in a second. He's not as dominating as he was last year, but his stuff is still great. If I was the Mariners, I'd reduce the number of pitches he throws. When you throw 94-98, that should be your primary pitch.

Frankly, this has the been the year of the pitching prospect. Justin Verlander is a Cy Young candidate. So was Liriano before he got hurt. Kazmir isn't a rookie, but he's having a great year. So is Wang. Lester has shown signs of promise (after all, not every lineup is the Yankees' lineup). Cole Hamels, Jered Weaver, Jeremy Sowers, the entire Marlins' pitching staff (including traded-from-the-Red-Sox Anibel Sanchez), Matt Cain, Chad Billingsley -- there are so many good young pitchers right now. This is the WORST time to say "don't get your hopes up about a pitching prospect." Looking around baseball, there are so many terrific young pitchers helping their teams.

If anything, this should encourage you about Hughes and Clippard. There's nothing wrong with having realistic expectations, but this almost anticipatory doom is misguided.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 10:45 AM

I'm sure that Mets fans were as high on Paul Wilson in 1995 as we are now on Hughes. Hey, I hope it works out for Hughes - that would be great. Still, my experience tells me that we should expect nothing and be prepared for anything when it comes to pitching prospects.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 11:00 AM

Steve has a very valid point. There are a lot of people out there who get "prospect drunk", the excitement and anticipation that arises from a player's numbers in the minors, the type "stuff" he has, etc. The truth is you never can tell w/a player until he's arrived at the Show and starts to perform. If for some reason Phillip Hughes fails or doesn't live up to expectations, there is going to be a lot of glum Yankee fans out there who believed this kid was the second coming of Clemens. I think's Steve's attitude is correct; be excited about the kid's potential, but wait until he's in the Bigs to determine what you are really getting.

Posted by: bloodyank78 [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 12:09 PM

Prospect: an apparent probability of advancement, success, profit, etc.

Nothing more, nothing less. 10 good pitching prospects might translate into 1 half decent major league player that can contribute for 3-5 years. Stars, the ones with both the physical and mental make up are probably 1 in 500. Hell, name me a team with 5 really good pitchers that have done it for more than a year or so.

Posted by: #15 [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 12:21 PM

Good point, Steve. I think Pulsipher and Isringhousen were, with Wilson, going to head the best young rotation in baseball for the next decade or so.

The point is, no one knows for sure. It's especially important for Yankees fans to hear this, since we don't exactly do well in dealing with failure. I'm actually more leery of the Yankees fans giving up on the kid after two consecutive mediocre starts, as opposed to him not eventually reaching his full potential.

Posted by: brockdc [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 01:06 PM

No one is saying that Hughes is going to come to the majors and have a 25-3 season with a 1.78 ERA. But the idea that you can't be excited that we have the best pitching prospect in the minors is flat-out ridiculous. Not being excited would be rather insane; if you can't get up when you have the best of something, when can you get up?

The pat retort when talking about prospects is to bring up some guy from the past who didn't pan out. Obviously there have been prospects in the past who failed. But you can name A DOZEN pitchers WHO ARE PITCHING RIGHT NOW who are succeeding in the big leagues. That's what is important. The guys who are coming out of the same minor leagues as Hughes are making it to the big leagues and kicking ass.

Not embracing what Hughes is is like not leaving your house because you might get hit by a car or not pursuing a woman for fear of rejection.

And considering what Wang has done for this team -- a much less heralded prospect, to be sure -- I don't get the reluctance around here.

But then again, pitching prospects haven't exactly been treated nicely on this blog. Hughes was being traded for Aaron Cook and Tyler Clippard was a throw-in to stop the Red Sox from getting Jon Lieber.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 02:08 PM

That was only before I knew they could get Lidle! J/K

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 02:13 PM

Phew! Phil Hughes, again.

As for Clippard, he's still a mid-level prospect. No one can tell how a guy like Clippard, with a ML average curve (as of now) a plus changeup and a ML average fastball will perform. The rest is up to makeup, grit, heart, etc. That's why Clippard is a mid-level prospect, right now a number four or five starter at best.

Hughes is what he is. Dominating in AA although throwing 80+ pitches over five innings to AA hitters is a cause for some concern. Is he jsut finding himself or is he going to be another five inning wonder? These are AA hitters after all and though he has a lot of K's, he's also finding it hard to close the deal on them what with that high pitch count per five innings. Worth keeping him to find out though. Unless you can get a Willis for him.

Posted by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 02:23 PM

Don, thanks for exposing your complete lack of knowledge on the subject. Since you obviously have no idea what's going on, I don't have to even bother getting into what you said about Clippard (in short, you're wrong). Hughes is not a "five-inning wonder." Even a tiny HINT of research would let you in on the fact that he's on a strict pitch-count/innings leash. There have been many games recently where he could have gone beyond five but was stopped because they don't want his pitch count this year to greatly exceed his pitch count of last year.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 04:45 PM

I believe if Felix was on the Yanks, he'd still be in the minors, ala Hughes. Felix, just going by last night's start, is still a very raw talent. He needs some 'ironing out.' This is what the Yanks are doing with Hughes. If he was in the show now, I could see him having the same issues as Felix. They're both only 20! The only difference is the Yanks can afford to 'iron out' Hughes, whereas the M's cant. That's and advtange the Yanks have: they can still use FAs & trades to fill out the rotation, and dont have to rely on cheap minor leaguers.

Kazmir, 22
Liriano, 22

Ask a Mets fan about Kazmir, or a Giants fan about Liriano. Actually, one of my friends IS a Giants fan, and everytime I mention him, he says 'Goddam you!' [shakes fist] Those guys could dominate the AL for the next 15 years!

Posted by: 98Yanks [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 07:40 PM

Bailey, thanks for the personal attack. I guess it shows just what kind of person you are.

Hughes is indeed on a pitch count, But since you are rather dim I need to waste bandwidth here and repeat what I wrote. The point, quite simply, is he's eating up his pitch count in just five innings. I really could not have been more clear in my original post. That is a concern. Why is he throwing his 80-90 pitches in just five innings to AA hitters. Got it? It really is simple laddie.

As for Clippard, since you didn't say anything to dispute what I posted your diatribe is moot.

Have a nice day.

Posted by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 09:23 PM

Hell, name me a team with 5 really good pitchers that have done it for more than a year or so.
Interesting question. As I looked back at the linked article, I wrote; "Not many great pitchers out there, but I'm thinking of cases like Wood-Zambrano-Prior (Cubs), or Zito-Mulder-Hudson (Oakland), or all the arms that came out of the Astros system not too long ago (Oswalt-Reynolds-Miller-Elarton-Wagner-Lidge). Or the Dodgers' system (Martinez-Nomo-Valdez-Astacio), so on and so forth."

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 11:00 PM

ok, to correct everyone, Hughes is on a 5 ip/ 80 pitch limit (whichever comes first), as per babybombers.com

and he's only gone less than 5 ip 3 times this whole season. two of those were AFTER that limit was installed. and the other was his 1st start of the year.

btw, he went tonight: 5 ip, 0 h, 1 bb, 9 k. not too bad i'd say.

why is he still in AA? i'd at least let him get his feet wet in Columbus. no, we dont KNOW he'll be great, but i'm very excited. :) http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/

Posted by: 98Yanks [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2006 11:02 PM

Hughes was on the DL each of his first two seasons, thus the careful pitch count. I don't think you can find a five inning 55 or 60 or so pitch count from him recently.

This is my point (again).... He seems to need quite a few pitches to get out AA hitters. That is all. Thus he is far from ready this season for AAA.

This isn't rocket science.

Posted by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 25, 2006 02:49 AM

How do you know what his pitch counts are? I cant find them anywhere on the web. And he's younger than most of the hitters at AA.

Are you actually saying you're not excited about him? (again) kazmir & liriano were highly touted prospects who turned out great. (again) he's no certainty, but he's extremely promising.

you're right, it's not rocket science. over his last 6 starts (29 ip), he's allowed 3 er total, 11 h, 6 bb, 43 k. what is the point in keeping him at AA longer? he's completely dominating. the 5 ip max is extra precaution to protect the best arm in the system.

btw, thanks for being condescending.

Posted by: 98Yanks [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 25, 2006 03:13 AM

You don't really believe that Hughes is being pulled after five innings having thrown 60 pitches, do you? They are basing his work on pitch count. This is why he has stayed put at AA, one of the reasons anyway.

Sure he's a young AA player, but there's part of the answer. AAA is full of veteran types and they don't thnk Hughes will handle that this year.

Nowhere did I say he isn't a top pospect, nowhere. I am merely pointing out a reason for concern this year. A reason that may disappear in 2007 in AAA.

Posted by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 25, 2006 01:49 PM

I dont know how many pitches he's thrown. It doesn't matter if he threw 15 pitches in 5 innings, he'll be taken out anyway. as per milb, re his last start:

'Despite having a reported pitch count in the low-60s, Hughes left after five innings because of a limit placed by New York in order to preserve Hughes' arm.'

even if he reached his limit which is 80 in 5 ip, that's still only 16 per inning. that's pretty good, especially for a strikeout pitcher. CM Wang is among the leaders in the show, and he throws 13-14 per inning, so 16 (the max) isn't bad. (yes, i know it's stil AA).

Posted by: 98Yanks [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 26, 2006 12:32 AM