Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Phil Hughes Getting Screwed On His Birthday (And Not In A Good Way)

How's this for a nice birthday present from your team?

"Phil Hughes has become a victim of his own success.

The Yankees right-hander with the 10-1 record and 3.17 ERA had expected to celebrate his 24th birthday, which is on Thursday, by starting the opener of a three-game series Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers in front of a crowd that would include his parents, relatives and friends from nearby Mission Viejo, where he grew up.

Instead, having pitched 82 1/3 innings in less than half a season, Hughes' place in the rotation will be skipped and he will have to wait until the Yankees return home against the Seattle Mariners on June 29 to pitch again.  

"Innings. Innings,'' manager Joe Girardi said by way of explanation. "He's made 13 starts and averaged over six innings per start. This is a hard guy for me to sit because of the way he's pitching for us, but we can't be shortsighted on this. We have to think of this year and next year and we have to think of his future. We want to make sure we have him for a long time.'' (courtesy of ESPN.com)

Now don't get me wrong, I like that the Yankees are trying to limit Hughes' innings and trying to do it the smart way and not repeat their epic fuckup with Joba last year.  But to sit him on his birthday, in front of his entire family and friends, in his hometown???  That's just downright cold.

Let's do the math here.  Phil has thrown 82 1/3 innings so far in the team's first 70 games.  His innings limit for the year is going to be at or around 175.  That means he still has 92 2/3 innings to work with over the last 91 games.  The team already had a plan in place to skip some of his starts just before and just after the All-Star Game to give him rest and keep his innings down, and he surely won't be used by Joe in the All-Star Game that he's going to inevitably make.  So it's not like Phil is in danger of going way over his innings limit and risking damage to his arm.

Knowing that, what is the harm in letting him pitch on his birthday in front of his biggest fans in his hometown and then have him skip his next start?  The next game he would pitch would be against the fucking Mariners.  THE MARINERS!!!  The team that's last in practically every major offensive category in the American League and some categories that we probably don't even have stats for yet.  You could throw Mike Harkey out there against the Mariners and he could probably give you 6 solid innings.

This is just a dumb move by the Yankees here.  They've gone from not thinking and planning ahead enough with Joba to overthinking with Phil and blowing a huge opportunity.  The kid is going to be stoked to pitch in his hometown and he would be pitching against a team that has no history against him.  The makings are there for a dynamite performance that would lead perfectly into some well-deserved rest when he returned home.  Instead, everyone is starting to worry about his innings before they even have to and we'll end up getting to watch Chad Gaudin or Ivan Nova go out there and potentially shit the bed.  "Oof" and "Da" to that decision.


(Photo courtesy of The AP)

Can somebody please explain to me what the fuck A.J. Burnett was doing out there last night?  Dude gets the first 2 outs, things are looking pretty good and then all of a sudden it was a goddamn home run derby!  Fastballs over the heart of the plate, flat curveballs over the heart of the plate.  He might as well have put it on a fucking tee!  Then the sad face and frustrated conversations with Jorge start on the mound and it was all over but the crying after that.

Final line for A.J. last night: 4 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 3 HR.  In his last four starts he is 0-4 with a 10.35 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP thanks to 29 hits and 11 walks allowed in just 20 innings.  And to top of that shit sundae, 9 of those 29 hits have been home runs.  So basically A.J. is getting hit and he's getting hit hard right now.

But even more disconcerting than those numbers are some of the comments by A.J. and Jorge after the game last night, such as:

“I don’t feel like myself.  I’m not having fun right now. Who would during a stretch like this? The game’s supposed to be fun, and to come out and take the air out of your team right away for a handful of starts, it’s quite frustrating.” - A.J.

“Missed location.  What I’m seeing, I can’t see if it’s delivery or anything, I’m just seeing the location of the pitches is not where it’s supposed to be.” - Posada.

“I think by now I know how to correct it and I think earlier in the year I was correcting it.  I was slowing the game up, and I was able to get out of jams. Whether I’m trying too hard or everything is speeding up, it comes down to just remembering what it feels like to succeed and keep the positive thoughts rolling and eventually it will turn around.” - A.J.

Basically what that tells me is that neither of these 2 fucks has a clue what's wrong with A.J. right now.  All they know is that he isn't happy, he's missing his spots, and he should know how to correct the problem.  Other than that there is no helpful information or theories or suggestions coming from these guys or from anybody else on the team for that matter.  Without Dave Eiland around to coddle him, A.J. is like a little kid lost in the mall right now, just wandering around scared and alone, hoping his mommy comes to save him.

I can relate to A.J. not having fun out there on the hill because quite frankly it's not very fun as a Yankee fan to watch him pitch right now.  But spare me all the "keep the positive thoughts rolling and eventually it will turn around" crap.  It has nothing to do with positive thoughts, you asshole.  And even if it did, you just admitted that you don't have any positive thoughts because you're sad and mopey and not having fun.  So instead of waiting for some positive karma to change your fortunes, why don't you get in the clubhouse early, watch some game film, figure out where your mechanical issues are right now that are causing everything to tail over the plate, and fucking work the issues out!  Be a man, be a professional, and fix your shit.  It's that simple.

But I suppose a few positive thoughts here and there wouldn't hurt.