In Milos Forman’s “Amadeus” Mozart, who is at a loss to describe how poor his peer, Salieri’s music is, says ,”I never knew that music like that was possible. One hears such sounds, and what can one say, but…Salieri.” When Yankee fans hear the crack of the bat as a ball sails over the outfield walls or find their team behind early what else can they say but, “Hughes.” No, he did not give up homers yesterday, and true he was not aided by the Yankees defense. However, Phil Hughes did not pitch well. He did not even get out of the fifth inning. It was not the first time, but if the Yankees had a say it would be the last. This team has too little a margin for error, and if Phelps, Nuno, or Pavano, er, Pineda were healthy one has to wonder if they would still start Hughes.
Look Phil Hughes may be the nicest guy in the world: fostering cats, donating his time to rebuild third world countries, and frequently organizing gluten free bake sales for his church to raise money for a new organ. The kind you play not the kind that you need surgery to remove or replace. – Look, I have no idea if any of this is true, but watching CNN and FOX news have taught me that it is perfectly acceptable to report speculation as news. -Remember the Boston Marathon bombings? Seriously, Phil just does not fit in the Bronx. What is more unsettingly is how he probably will thrive in the National League. Maybe in Chavez Ravine or in Chase Field or in PetCo Park? The strangest development though is how in the last few weeks more and more scouts and unnamed sources have been quoted as saying Hughes would gladly sign with a team as a reliever. Why didn’t the Yankees explore this idea earlier. Maybe he could have been a shut down guy who succeeds Rivera? This way Robertson stays in his eighth inning niche. Not that Robertson could not close, but “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
The point is Hughes is a younger AJ Burnett, a guy with a great arm who lacks the mental toughness to truly capitalize on his talents. An arm that impresses scouts, but a lack of poise that hurts himself and his team in a game when things get bumpy. Poise. Andy Pettitte is the definition of this. He does not have the best stuff in the world, but usually, he is able to keep his team in the game regardless. David Cone is another great example. Though Cone started his career as someone with electric stuff, and later used anything and everything to get hitters out. Breaking balls, the evil eye, and tickets to Bon Jovi concerts. True story. Thanks again, CNN and FOX news.
Why then is it so difficult for the Yankees to churn out pitchers who can pitch more than an inning? Yes, Nova is a starter, but he has yet to consistently be someone the team can turn to on a regular basis. Phelps has been solid as a spot starter, and even better as a long man in the bullpen. Warren started off well this year, but has been suspect of late. Has the league figured him out, or is he going through a rough spell? Time will tell. Otherwise, the Yankees of late only seem to produce relievers. Mind you they are good: Robertson, Hughes, and Claiborne. Add Joba to that list except for the fact that this year Girardi does not seem to trust Joba to pick up dry cleaning much less pitch in a tight spot. Joba is another guy who’s “candle faded long before his legend ever did.” Thanks Elton John.
In keeping with the musical theme opposing dugouts must be playing Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” each time they see Phil Hughes walk to the mound. Or perhaps the older ballplayers settle on U2’s “Beautiful Day” or The Black Eyed Peas, “I got a feeling” since Hughes usually means the hitters will have a good night. No one cares that Hughes actually pitches better at night than in the day. All the Bronx cares about is the day “Where the streets have no Hughes.” My apologies to U2, but I could not resist. After all in 2014 the starting rotations will be of entirely different hues. Someone please stop me! However, not before you stop Phil Hughes from throwing more pitches as a Yankee.