Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How Soon We Forget (and why Phil Hughes Does Not Belong in the Bullpen)

A lot is being made right now about the Yankees' bridge, or lack thereof, to Mariano Rivera.

I'm wondering, does anyone here remember how last year, for a while, that bridge was named Kyle Farnsworth?

Just sayin' is all.

The other thing that's caught my eye is people bringing up sticking Phil Hughes in the bullpen when Chien Ming Wang returns to the rotation.

I am, for the moment, against the idea for the following reasons:

1) Hughes is a 22 year old kid. Yes, still. He's the 20th youngest MLB player. He's still developing. If he was 27, 28, it'd be a different story, but he's not. He's still working all the kinks out after missing large time periods with injury. Baseball history is littered with starters that struggled early in their career and then turned into something incredible.

2) Hughes has a better chance of furthering his development if he goes down to AAA, where he can start every day, than if he has to remake his mentality. It's the old cross country racer-turned-sprinter argument. They're both pitching, but the types are so different they might as well be two different sports.

3) Joba worked as a short reliever because he could throw 100 mph heat without breaking a sweat. Phil's velocity is lower, and with his occasional control issues, it does not make a good mix for a set up man.

Now that Bruney's back, the Yankees have a little--not much--but a little more breathing room in the bullpen. If the starters can keep pitching into the seventh inning, then the rest of the bullpen should work itself out.

They're finicky things. Hell, the Mets have two closers this year and they still have bullpen issues. The Indians had the best bullpen in 2007 and have the worst in 2009 with largely the same staff. The Angels pen was shut-down-to-K-Rod in 08 and has pitched something awful in 2009.