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April 26, 2007

April 26th vs. The Blue Jays

Man, it seems like it's been forever since that big comeback win against the Indians. Talk about a long week.

When you factor in his age, and the way he was rushed to the big leagues, and the fact that it was his big league cherry today, I thought Phil Hughes was impressive tonight.

That said, this evening, while watching Hughes, I still see "Andy Benes."

The key is watching Hughes against proven batters like Vernon Wells and Frank Thomas and then again versus batters like Jason Smith and Adam Lind. Sure, Phil gets the "B" batters out. But, what happened when he faced "A" batters?

Bottom line, I saw Hughes tonight as having excellent stuff - but it's not electric stuff. When Roger Clemens and Doc Gooden were babies, they had electric stuff. I did not see that from Hughes this evening. Case in point: A.J. Burnett, after throwing 100 pitches, was still hitting 96 MPH on the gun tonight. Phil Hughes, after 80-something pitches was just touching 90 MPH on the gun.

Of course, this was just one night - and it was Hughes first major league start. Things can change in time...and maybe that electric stuff shows in later starts? But, for now, again, I see "Andy Benes" when I watch Phil Hughes pitch. That's not the worst thing in the world for Hughes. But, it's probably not in line with the hype and subsequent expectations that are around the kid now.

Moving on to the bigger picture, tonight's loss puts a ton of pressure on Andy Pettitte tomorrow. With Karstens pitching on Saturday - and, thank goodness that Igawa has been yanked from the rotation - a loss on Friday could mean that the Yankees are looking at an 8-game losing streak heading into Sunday's game...along with being 7 1/2 games back of Boston on the morning of Wang's start on Sunday.

The Yankees need a win on Friday. I know it's only April - and it's hard to say a game in April is a "must win." But, if ever there was a "must win" game in April...tomorrow is it for the Yankees.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at April 26, 2007 10:42 PM

Comments

Nice backhanded compliment, dude. He was impressive, but you still think he's going to turn out to be Andy Benes -- based on one start. The first real game you've ever seen him pitch (all you know of him is a few innings in spring training).

That's a joke.

This is the most pitches he's thrown all year. Not a surprise he was tiring. But he wasn't barely reaching 90 in that last inning. Going by radar guns is pointless; you can have fifteen guns at the same game and they all give different readings. He throws his fastball 91-95, and that 91er still blew someone away in his last inning of work.

If your worry is that Hughes will not be as good as A.J. Burnett -- that great velocity has really helped him, huh? -- then you don't have much to fret about.

The thing is, though, it's hard to tell if you wanted Hughes to succeed or not or whether you wanted a start just like this so you could thump your chest and say "I told you so."

Something tells me a career isn't based on 4.1 innings of work.

But you're probably right. He's Andy Benes. Nothing special. Send this kid back down -- or better yet, trade him for some good spare parts. His stuff isn't nearly as electric as Gooden's or Clemens'. After those unspectacular 4.1 innings, it's a mediocre career for you.

The point of rooting against the best player the Yankees have in their system escapes me.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 26, 2007 11:31 PM

FYI:

Roger Clemens' first start: 5.7 IP, 11 H, 4 SO, 3 BB, 4 ER.

ERA for the year: 4.32.

He had more hits than innings pitched and less strikeouts than innings pitched.

Somewhere, someone was saying, "He's good, but he just isn't as electric as Nolan Ryan."

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 26, 2007 11:34 PM

I'm sorry Steve, I'm one of your loyal readers, but your argument is terrible. You are basically saying, "He didn't get Frank Thomas and Vernon Wells out, therefore, he sucks"

Vernon Wells hit two singles and a double. He didn't tee off on Hughes. Not only that, but Wells is hot (9 for his last 12 with 3 walks, a home run, a triple, and two doubles), and no Yankee pitcher was able to get him out tonight. When you have a guy who is an all star talent, sometimes he's going to hit you.

Frank Thomas is a first ballot hall of famer and still one of the game's better hitters. He went 1-2 with a single against Hughes. He didn't tee off. Hell, Thomas came in to the game 6 for his last 12 with a walk and a home run. He was hot too, and all he hit was a line drive single.

Want to talk about major league hitters? Aaron Hill and Lyle Overbay did not manage a hit. But guess what, none of this matters. We're talking about one start. We're talking about his first major league start. We're talking about a start where he was pulled from a game after an infield single that was really an out, a strikeout, a stolen base, and a line drive single by a 126 million dollar player, and eventually the second runner would score on a sac fly by a first ballot hall of famer.

"He doesn't throw 98 so therefore he's not going to be Roger Clemens". First off, aren't we setting the standard a little high? Second, those 90 mph balls you were seeing were 2-seam fastballs that Posada was calling, not his 4-seamer. Third, he's not in midseason form yet and saw his velocity start off this way last season and rise to 93-95 consistently by the summer.

Honestly, half the Yankee writers out there need to stop being so reactionary.

Posted by: DownFromNJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2007 01:06 AM

Sorry guys, like I've said a thousand times here, I don't wear Yankees blinders that only allow me to see good things, always, for anyone on the Yankees. I'm objective.

And, for the record, where did I say that Hughes sucks? Please, be fair.

Andy Benes was a quality major league pitcher for a long time. It's not a slap to compare someone to Andy Benes. Look up his record. He did a lot of great things in the game - more than most pitchers ever do.

Lastly, use your eyes and don't look through your heart. Did any batters last night, sans the ones that should probably be in Triple-A now, look over matched by Hughes last night? Now, think of Dwight Gooden and the way all batters where over-matched by him when he was a rookie. It's not the same.

Most importantly, YES, most importantly, please note that I said - very clearly - that it was just his first start and that he could show us different things going forward. Maybe he does show us Dwight Gooden stuff in the near future? It's possible...and I stated that.

But, no, it's much easier to read what you want to see, and then to attack me, for not kissing the ass of your idol - even though I said your idol was impressive.

Sorry guys, if you're looking for someone to be Yankee Fanboy Sympathizer, you have the wrong man. I'm just stating what I saw. If you want me to pretend that I saw something that wasn't there, in my eyes, I can't do that.

Feel free to share your opinions here on Hughes last night. But, don't attack me. I don't have time for those games. In fact, I won't even comment again in this thread. It's all yours. Because, obviously, it doesn't matter what I write - some people just see what they want to see and are not 'listening' to what I am really saying.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2007 07:56 AM

I'm not going to attack you Steve but I think you and everyone else is jumping to conclusions after 4.1 innings pitched. I mean, c'mon. Every pitcher in their life has great runs, good runs, horrible runs, mediocre runs. Clemens has off days. Halladay has off days. Santana has off days. Mo has off days. Because a 20 year old Phillip Hughes didn't shut out a good hitting Blue Jays team in his MLB debut doesn't mean he's headed for an Andy Benes type career.

And I've been reading your blog for a looooong time and I think you've used "must win" more times than anyone I've ever seen. ;)

Posted by: JJay [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2007 09:07 AM

Man, if the standard is Dwight Gooden's first couple of seasons, then we're in trouble. Gooden was on a whole different plane those first few years. Does anyone compare, other than say Bob Gibson or Sandy Koufax?

I will say that I'm being very cautious about my expectations for Hughes as well. It's not that I don't like him or his stuff, but the way prospects get overhyped it just seems like you never really know what you're getting.

Posted by: JeremyM [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2007 10:03 AM

Steve, I think a lot of us are probably angry at seeing another 'L'. You have to understand why people might be mad and it might have more to do with the 'L', then what you said about Hughes. Sometimes things manifests themselves in strange ways.

Like the time when Angelina Jolie thought I was hot and came and banged the shit out of me because she likes guys that comment on blogs. She finds that hot, so who am I to judge. I'm just glad she didn't make me a daddy of some poor Ugandan baby.

I was actually impressed with Hughes and I wasn't worried so much about his performance as much as I was worried about that fucking 90 pitch max pitch-count. I think a lot of us expect great things from Hughes, you are trying to be more practical and a great many of us have probably sipped the Kool Aid. You have to understand that it's a balancing act, you don't have to wear Yankee blinders and be overly critical (not saying you were either), and you can't sway too much in the other direction either. Comparing him to a phenom like Gooden is unfair, and comparing him to Andy Benes might be wrong too. Just because of the infinitesimal body of work.

You have to be glad about some of the feedback you've received in return too, I didn't think it was particularly mean or attacking....just opening up dialogue and the frustration stems from the 'L' not from what you wrote. I think that's where it's coming from; us Yankee fans aren't the most patient people and things are looking ugly right now, so saying something that can be perceived as negative to what we feel might our last big hope then it can get some bitter comments.

On the other hand, if you don't want feedback or comments - whether angry or complimentary - then write about child videos. We are all a little uneasy right now. Let's go Yanks!!!

Posted by: Garcia [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2007 10:08 AM

The book on Hughes is that he has above-average stuff and way above-average make-up--which is even more important in the long run.

If he can stay healthy and keep his head on straight, there is no doubt that he could be a front-end of the rotation guy. For all of his electric stuff, Dwight Gooden ruined himself. A.J. Burnett has electric stuff too, and he'll never be more than .500 pitcher. Kyle Farnsworth has electric stuff. Would you want him pitching in a big spot?

From what I saw last night, Hughes has more than enough ability to be a very good pitcher in this league. He's sneaky fast at 90-94; has a good curve; and I was pleasantly surprised by his changeup. It is just going to take a little time. But the intangibles are there. He deserves to stay on the roster and learn to become a major league pitcher.

You want comparisons? Don't think Dwight Gooden, think Jack Morris. That would be just fine with me.

Posted by: Joel [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2007 10:19 AM

"Sorry guys, like I've said a thousand times here, I don't wear Yankees blinders that only allow me to see good things, always, for anyone on the Yankees. I'm objective."

Only allow you to see good things? How often do you see good things?

Your writing is good, and interesting, but I would never come here to see the sunny side of the street.

Posted by: RICH [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2007 11:18 AM

I'm objective.
------------------

That's objectively false.

Posted by: The Sporting Brews [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2007 11:45 AM

I love that some guy takes tiem out of his day to write this blog, something he loves doing, and allow himself a place to express his opinions but when those opinions don't match up, he is attacked. And that is what happened, the first few replies were venomous.

Sure the Yanks Lost, but does that mean we lose all decency as human beings? if you don't agree with Steve, cool. I personally don't totally agree with him but he has his opinion and I respect that.

I think Hughes looked good considering the circumstances. I also think that given some more starts, he'll be just fine. He's ina league where it's too difficult to be dominating and you all know that. Johan, one the best pitchers out there right now, only managed 19 wins last season. No one went over 20. This is a tough league to pitch in and throwing a 20 year old out there and expecting miracles is ridiculous. In time, just like the Yanks, he will be fine.

The venom here reminds me of a Red Sox/Yankee trash forum. Don't bring that here.

Steve, thanks for the blog. I check it at least 6 times a day from work and four more when I get home. I enjoy your opinions and I enjoy most of the feedback you get. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: dave24s [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2007 11:58 AM

I'm a fan of this blog and am very grateful to be able to check the state of the Yanks without a ton of rah rah crap about how handsome Jeter is, or whether he and Alex were seen together, whatever. It's a great forum. Bottom line we need a win. Yanks fans second guess with the best of them. Out here, the Giants started the season about as badly as a team can play, they just looked like dog meat. The whole fan base had their undies in a bunch. Fire the GM trade everyone. Now they're the hottest team in the league, and instead of the geritol jokes, now they're a "veteran team."

Phil Hughes is a long term project. Ideally the Yanks stake him to a big lead and take the pressure off. But they didn't score so it was all on him. But he'll come around fine. I compare him a lot to Matt Cain. The kid's clearly the real deal, but last year he definitely had his inconsistencies. This year, so far he's a rock. I expect about the same from Hughes. No one's rotation can stand a bunch of injuries, no matter what. We're taking our lumps because we had three injuries to our 1,3 and 4 starters. But I do echo some recent comments about Torre jerking the bullpen around and not leaving Wang in to finish the 7th against the Devil Dogs. And Farnsworth - Feh. I credit Cash for dumping Sheffield, he should have dumped Farnsworth too.

Posted by: Exit9 [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2007 01:01 PM

If I'm included in the people who "attacked" you (I don't really see any of that myself), I apologize. You know I enjoy this blog and my intent, even when I'm sarcastic, is never to insult you. I guess I just find your attitude toward Hughes to be incomprehensible. Not "wrong," I suppose, but totally at odds with my own feelings and emotions.

Don't compare Hughes to Gooden and Clemens. Gooden was an otherworldly talent. The only person in recent history to be that good at such a young age was King Felix (and Hughes is not THAT). Clemens is one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the game. Let's not worry if Hughes matches THOSE guys.

A realistic comp for Hughes is a healthy Ben Sheets (good control and a lot of strikeouts).

If Hughes ends up being Josh Beckett instead of Roger Clemens, that doesn't mean he failed?

When our last heralded pitching prospect, Pettitte, came up, I was still in middle school. So I didn't get to watch him pitch in the minors and I didn't get to follow his minor-league career and I never felt a certain sense of pride with him. I did have this experience with Hughes, however. I've grown to like this kid a lot and I respect his ability. And when someone seems to be dismissing him after seeing him for the first time, after just four innings, it frankly pissed me off.

But no hard feelings. As I said, your attitude toward him is a little baffling to me, but I know ultimately you want him to succeed.

I don't think you need to have Yankee blinders on to spin things positively for him -- after all, we're the only one who want him to do well; the rest of baseball wants to see him fall on his face.

So why not support him? It's not his fault the team needs him already.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2007 01:18 PM

Steve, Steve, Hello....are you out there? Steve, Steve.....Please report back to your blog.

Posted by: Garcia [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2007 02:10 PM

I remember when Andy Pettitte came up and there was no hoopla surrounding his arrival. Nobody was calling Pettitte "The Future."

That said, Hughes had better stuff than Pettitte did. But what Pettitte had (and still has) was the intangibles: a great head, durability, and a knack for not blowing up games in crucial spots.

Andy Pettitte is going to win well over 200 games in the majors and had a shot at being the winningest pitcher in Yankee history before he went to Houston. And many others who have come through the farm system have had better stuff than him.

So my wish for Phil Hughes is Andy's intangibles. Intangibles that guys like Ben Sheets and A.J. Burnett and Carl Pavano will never have. Hughes showed us more than enough "stuff" last night. Now we just have to cross our fingers and hope that the pitching gods of good health, good make-up, and an occassional good bounce (or a Paul O'Neill catch in right field) smile on him.

Posted by: Joel [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2007 02:17 PM

Just glad you didn't say Elaine Benes

Posted by: Jason O. [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2007 04:24 PM

~~~Steve, Steve, Hello....are you out there? Steve, Steve.....Please report back to your blog.~~~

Hey, I'm alive. VAC-day today. We took the kids to Adventure Aquarium down in Camden. We left at 11:30 and got home around 6 pm...just in time for dinner and bath time - before the game.

I wasn't hiding. Just busy.

baileywalk - we're cool. I'm not singling out anyone. It just gets me when people, in general, say that I'm saying something that I did not write. It's my issue, in the end, I guess. Don't sweat it.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2007 09:35 PM

~~~Steve, thanks for the blog. ....Keep up the good work.~~~

Thank you. I'll try!

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 27, 2007 11:18 PM

*coughs*

Umm... ahhh... mmm... *points to the game tonight*

Posted by: B(rent) [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 1, 2007 10:01 PM