Saturday, June 24, 2006

Gimme One Good Dose of Thunder

Peter Abraham has some notes on Philip Hughes and his development at Trenton today:

The Yankees now have a very big chip in the trading game. The question is whether they should cash it. Last night the right-hander carried a perfect game for four innings and a no-hitter for seven. Hughes is with Class AA Trenton and there were a pack of scouts at the game to watch him including several from the Washington Nationals. Hughes struck out eight and walked two in eight innings against the Connecticut Defenders. In his last three starts, Hughes is 2-0 with an 0.82 ERA. He has struck out 29 in his last 22 innings.If they wanted, the Yankees could have Alfonso Soriano right now if they were willing to deal Hughes. But, to me, it makes no sense.

Keep in mind that Sori is unsigned for next season and will want $13-$15 million a year.Hughes should be in Columbus after the All-Star break, in the Bronx in September and in the rotation next May. Not at RFK Stadium.

While I find Peter's prediction that Hughes will be in the majors this year and start next year in the Yankee rotation a wee bit optimistic, I do agree that there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to trade Hughes. It would be almost impossible to get value in return for him equal to what he should bring to the Yankees shortly and for a long time to come. He has dominated at every level of competition in professional baseball.

When he was drafted out of Foothill HS in Santa Ana, CA in 2003 with the 23rd overall pick, Yankees Senior VP Gordon Blakely said of Hughes, "he has everything we looked for, including his makeup. He's from a good background, a good family, and those things are important. To play in New York, you need more than good stuff, you need good makeup."

Makeup is important, but Hughes' stuff has also been filthy.

Coming into 2006, Hughes' combined minor league stats are as follows:
9-1, 2.07 ERA, 58 hits, 20 walks and 101 strikeouts in 91.1 innings, 0.86 WHIP. He's averages about 10 Ks for every 9 IP.

Hughes started 2006 in Class A Tampa, the Yankees' "premium" A ball team. All he did there was post a 1.80 ERA with 30 Ks and 2 (two!) walks in 30 IP. This granted him a call up to AA Trenton, and he's still impressing with the Thunder. He's only really had one poor outing (by Hughes standards, anyway) and has fanned 64 men in 61.1 IP with only 20 walks and posted an ERA of 3.18. Over his last three starts, in 22 innings Hughes is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA and 29 Ks. He carried a no hitter into the 8th in his most recent start and really seems to have adjusted to AA. Thus far in the minors, he's been a man amoungst boys, but the Yankees are trying to be careful not to rush him too quickly.

Why would the Yankees sacrifice such a valuable and rare commodity as a homegrown ace? This is the New York Yankees, remember. How many aces have they developed from the system in the past 20 years? 30 years? Think hard. My answer: zero. Andy Pettitte was a fine pitcher, a good pitcher, but Pettite was never a dominant ace. Chien-Ming Wang has looked good, but is his ceiling as high as Hughes'? More than likely not. I see him more as a #2 starter at best, or a complimentary #3 starter in a very good rotation. Al Leiter was an ace in waiting, but injuries early in his career (as well as the Yankees trading him for Jesse Barfield) kept him from developing into the Yankee ace. The only dominant pitcher to come from the Yankees system since then has been Mariano Rivera, but he of course is not best known for his starts. I suppose you'd have to go back to the debut of current pitching coach Ron Guidry in 1975 to come up with the last time the Yankees have promoted a bonafide ace caliber pitcher from their system. That's a 31 year drought that Hughes can help end.

To trade him for a rental like Soriano, whom the Yankees can probably have for cash if they want him and are willing to wait until November, would be a huge mistake and a return to the policies of the 1980's. I'm still of the belief and holding out hope that the scouts were there to look at other Thunder prospects (and perhaps some from the Blue Jays system) because Nationals GM Jim (Beam) Bowden has repeatedly stated that he doesn't think that the Yankee system is "dry" and that it's "wet enough for him." If Hughes is off the table, there are other interesting prospects in Trenton.

Hughes turns 20 years old today. He still can't even buy himself a beer or play a hand of blackjack in Las Vegas, but he certainly is worth the gamble to keep him in a Yankee uniform for a long time to come.

Happy birthday, Phil.


On another Thunder note, has everyone seen the Thunder's ridiculous mascot, "Boomer"?

Images courtesy and lupe velez, respectively.

What kind of retarded bird is that? It took me a while to figure out that he was wearing some sort of sunglasses and that the yellow parts weren't some kind of extra hands covering his eyes. He just looks... stupid.

What does some big blue bird have to do with "Thunder," anyway? It's been my experience that birds do not like thunder.

It's a shame too, because the Thunder have one of the coolest logos in the minors, in my opinion:

Wouldn't a Thor-like mascot not only make more sense, and be far less... stupid? It's like they bought the bird costume at a flea market and then gave him lame bolt shaped glasses to make it fit.

Maybe I should start a petition for a Thor mascot. I just might.

(Kudos to anyone who recognized today's article title, by the way.)

posted by Mr. Faded Glory @ 4:54 AM   3 comments


At 6/24/2006 11:58 PM, Anonymous Benjamin Kabak said...

WTF is that Boomer thing in Trenton? It's even uglier than the Nationals' mutant bald eagle.

At 6/25/2006 1:49 AM, Blogger Mr. Faded Glory said...

Yes. Not only is it hideous but it makes no sense for the franchise.

At leat the Nats eagle has some relation to the franchise.

At 6/25/2006 5:39 AM, Blogger lupe_velez said...

not that i'm a boomer fan, but boomer amuses the kids and the kids are the majority of the ballpark. yeah, that's it.


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