It’s still very early in the baseball season, but many Yankees fans, myself included, are ready to give up on Phil Hughes. Brian Cashman is not among them.
“Based on the list, he is in pretty good company,” Cashman told Joel Sherman of the NY Post. “I think his stuff has been better than the results. The bottom line is he has to pitch better over time, and I think he will. What we have seen so far, I don’t think means [jack]. I’m not going to overreact to it.”
Whenever Cashman sticks up for Hughes in this fashion, he gives off the feeling that he is borderline delusional. In this case I’m not so sure. It is true that it is still very early and there are a lot of young pitchers struggling. However, just to lump them all in with each other and use that as evidence that Hughes will be fine might not be the best way to look at it.
Hughes has never even had close to the level of success that some of those pitchers Cashman listed have enjoyed, one is coming off a major injury, and a few may be exactly what Hughes is – a highly touted pitcher in the minors who cannot cut it on a consistent basis in the majors.
It probably is for the best that he is not overreacting. If he truly believes that Hughes’ stuff has been better than the results, I’m not sure that it has been, than it is best to be sure that he can’t correct the ship. The Yankees have been winning despite an inconsistent rotation early on and once it becomes playoff time, they are going to need starters they can rely on. Knowing for certain if Hughes can be among that group, in either a good or bad way, is what the team needs.
The Yankees don’t even know if they have a solid replacement for Hughes yet. Andy Pettitte is coming back soon, but Freddy Garcia looks about as lost or more than Hughes. David Phelps has been pitching well, but in an extremely small sample size it is still too early to tell if he has been pitching over his head or not.
So Cashman may be in the right frame of mind. There are a lot of pitchers struggling early on this season. It may be best to give Hughes time to show if it is just early season struggles or if he can’t hack it in the rotation.