Morning Bits: Mariano, Hughes, Nunez, C.C.

Good morning all on to another week.  Spring training is rolling along and the pitchers are now going to be going more innings this week so more to watch which is good.  Here are your links.  Enjoy.

* Mariano throws a perfect inning is his spring debut.

* Phil Hughes shows improved velocity in his latest start.

* Nunez is still bothered by bruised right hand.

* Testing out two-seamer, CC has no trouble.

NOTE:  To all those in our Fantasy Baseball League our draft is tomorrow.  Don’t forget!

About Matthew S.

Avid Yankee fan since birth. I have been going to Yankee games with my father since i was young. I have many memories at YSII including many playoffs and world series games. I hope that you enjoy our blog. Comment often.

Posted on March 12, 2012, in Notes & Links and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 65 Comments.

  1. Hughes started on his road back during the winter by getting in better condition and it’s an ongoing process. I think most if not all Yankees fans expect Hughes to have a very, very good season.

    • anyone see pictures of Joba. He doesn’t look in shape at all. I know he has Tommy John but that’s his arm. Get on the treadmill or something.

      • Hopefully 3 but more likely 4 months till he returns is time enough for him to drop the “baby fat”. Otherwise who knows maybe the Pirates might need someone in thier bullpen.

        • I doubt Joba gets traded but crazier things have happened. It just pisses me off that he is never in shape. But I never complain about C.C. not sure if that’s a double standard.

          • The thing is CC has a performance record that Joba can only dream about. This year could be a telling year for Joba especially the way it looks like some of the young arms are performing so far this spring.

          • Matt, Babe Ruth was out of shape at times, it’s all about performance. The media likes to look for stories, that’s why they talk about CC and Pineda’s weight. A lot of sports writiers always write someting negative, they are getting like the rest of the news.

  2. Did we really expect anything less from Mariano? 🙂

  3. Gentlemen, March 12th is an historic day in Yankees History:

    March 12, 1903 The New York Highlander franchise (to be renamed Yankees in 1913) is approved as a member of the American League.

    If anyone is interested, I had not yet become a Yankees fan. It was still a few years in coming.

  4. Question for or thoughts from anyone. Let’s assume that Pineda, Nova and Hughes all perform to or exceed expectations this coming season. The Yankees have several promising pitching prospects aside from Banuelos and Betances. The like of Warren, Phelps, etc… just to name a couple.

    Assuming Banuelos is untouchable under any circumstance, what are the possibilities that come the end of the 2012 season that the Yankees try and work a trade of 1 or more of the other prospects for a team controlled power bat/outfielder to replace Swisher along the lines of what they did with the Pineda/Montero trade?

    I realize there are a lot of assumptions here, but I’m just wonder what fans think.

    • That’s exactly what I would like them to do and I thought they should have done it this year for someone to DH or split RF and DH with Swisher. Could have had Seth Smith for a couple of mediocre arms and Chase Headley is still gettable.

      Someone from the Betances, Warren, Phelps, Mitchell, Hughes group. Hughes will be scheduled to make the most money so it might be him if one or more of the other 4 emerge as a legitimate starter. The Yanks have a lot of depth of #3-5 starters IMO and could use that to acquire a non-expensive young OF to take over for Swish

      • Fishjam…
        Are you still thinking Phil will never be the pitcher he could be if, he had different mechanics?
        I think he is a bit to old to change now but, If i remember right there was a pitcher that went back to the minors and worked on changing everything. You may know the pitchers name I don’t.
        Phil has a very bad approach and drags his arm through, ends up using his arm/shoulder far too much. It is arm/shoulder trouble waiting to happen.
        Other then the money problem, is that one of the reason for trading him if, we have someone to take his place?

        • Hi Ken……
          I don’t see Hughes becoming the front-end #1/#2 starter that we hoped for when he was the #1 pitching prospect in all of baseball.

          The reason for that is the way he throws. Like you said he has strange arm action. He isn’t fluid and doesn’t get on top of the ball to throw downhill well. For that reason, he gets almost no downward action on his pitches. He won’t be able to throw a sinker or a power breaking pitch that way and he’ll always be a fly-ball pitcher.

          As he is now, he’s reliant on his velocity being in the 93-94 range consistently to be effective. His FB and Cutter lose effectiveness at lower speeds. His Curve is just a looping pitch that is only effective when thrown in FB counts because it fools hitters.. When he throws it for a strike ahead in the count it’s an easy pitch to hit. The key to his success is maintaining Velocity and mastering the Change Up. If he does those 2 things he could be a solid pitcher with a FB-Cutter-Change Mix with the Curve mixed in at the right times.

          My reason for trading him at the end of the yr is bc he’ll be 1 yr away from FA and be in line for a big salary in arbitration. I also believe that the kids behind him could be similarily effective at a much lower salary if given the opportunity. Plus you have to give up something to get something and a young OF to replace Swish will be very important,

          • Fish good points.I would add one more maybe the biggest detractor of all.The guy is always hurt.Its hard to achieve one’s potental when your in the trainers room.
            Also he spit the bit twice in post season play ,once as a reliever and also as a starter.The pedIgree doesn’t appear to be there IMO.

            • BP….Absolutely, he’s had only 2 fully healthy yrs out of 5.
              Ken, Ballpark, UYF, Doug, matt, etc…..
              Look at this video of Phil in the minors when he was the #1 prospect in MLB. OMG, what a difference in arm action and mechanics. What changed?

              Look at the downward action of his FB and 2-plane break on his curve in this video:

              • What the hell happened to him! It almost looks like he got screwed-up somehow? That pi–es me off. When I saw him in the minors, I must have seen him as that tape showed. I was impressed with him before but, when he came up and had troubles with his arm…maybe that was when he changed.
                Maybe? What do you think?

  5. I look for Hughes to have a bounce back season, but I’m a little worried about Nova. He threw alot of innings last year and ran out of gas at the end. He kind of mirrors Hughe’s season of 2 years ago.

    • Doug, I agree on Hughes but not neccessarily on Nova.
      I like that Hughes took things seriously this off-season and realizes this may be his last chance. i think he’ll have a strong year for the Yanks.

      I don’t think Nova ran out of gas at all last yr. His innings total was nearly identical to his 2010 total and his 2nd half was much stronger than his 1st. He threw a great game in Game 1 of the ALDS. His forearm strain in Gm 5 was a muscle strain which I beleive was caused by throwing his new best pitch (slider) too often.

      However, that said, I do have concerns about Nova repeating his success of last yr. I definitely don’t think he can go 16-4 again and he’ll have a lot of challenges in his sophomore season.

      • Fishjam….
        Nova, as with most 2nd year pitchers, is going to find a big difference in the hitters this year. They have seen him and know his pitches and his put-away pitch…they will adapt, as should he!
        I think, by the end of the year…or all-star break time…we will know just what he can and can’t do for the Yankees.
        Nova has talent, let’s see if he can put it together for a good ten twelve years for the Yankees, he need not be an Ace but, a solid number 2 or 3 would be very nice. 🙂

        • Good morning old buddy.How are you feeling?
          I’m a little higher on Nova .I think he has all the tools.Great body,tremendous arm action,and a fearless demeanor on the mound.I do agree with you about adjustments,both his and the league to him .

          • Hi Ballpark how it going big guy?
            I am fine, just a bit older! I only worry about his fastball and adapting to the hitters. His fastball is plenty good enough but, not an over powering one with a lot of movement…means he needs to have good command and control with it.
            As for your take on him, I have no problem with it at all, you have it down good. Nice to see you back with us again! I put myself in the “penalty box” for a week!
            Stay healthy and posting! 🙂

      • fishjam, the gold stardard for pitchers is Halliday his K/9 8.47 and BB/9 1.35 and CCs 8.72-2.31 are great. Nova had a K/9 of 5.33 and BB/9 of 3.10. There is little margin for error with him. Hughes in 2010 had a 7.45- 2.96 which is better. Both Hughes and Nova had good BABIP in those years, Nova .283 and Hughes .273. There luck factor was good. CC had a bad luck factor last year, I would expect him to be luckier this year. Verlander had a BABIP of .236 last year, and his average BABIP is .285. I think these stats are a good way to evaluate a pitcher, along with the eyeball method.

        • Doug…K & BB rates provide only a small glimpse of a pitcher’s value/worth.

          Nova can be effective without a lot of strikeouts because he is an Extreme Ground ball pitcher who can get a double play at anytime. He was 5th in the AL last yr with a 52.7% GB rate and by limiting fly balls he was 8th best in the AL at allowing HRs with a 0.72 HR/9.

          Hughes on the other hand is an extreme flyball pitcher and prone to the long ball. In 2010, he had the 4th lowest GB% in the AL at 36% and gave up 1.28 HR/9

          So, it’s very important for Hughes to limit walks and get strikeouts while Nova can allow a few more baserunners since he can erase them with double-plays and he isn’t prone to the HR.

          You also have to keep in mind that Nova matured as a pitcher as the season wore on and he incorporated the slider. During his best stretch from June to August his K rate was around 6.5 and walk rate in the 2’s while Hughes was at 5.6 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 last yr. But regardless, K & BB rates are only one metric of a pitcher

          • fishjam, Ks and walks are actually two top factors in rating pitchers. The BABIP takes into account the luck factor, infield play, and field factor. Nova is a ground ball pitcher who doesn’t strike many people out, and walks too many batters. The Yankee infield is getting older so K’s are a big factor on this team. That’s why the Yanks signed AJ, his K percentage was high, same with Vasquez. We know they didn’t work out. Nova is a vunerable pitcher in my book, unless his walks go done, and his slider produces more Ks.

            • Doug…Ks and Walks are good stats but you cannot look at stats in a vacuum. You have to incorporate ALL stats to see the true value of a pitcher. Ks and BBs don’t take into account batted balls. The fact that Nova limits HRs and induces GBs while Hughes gives up tons of Fly balls and HRs is a huge factor.

              BABIP is also an incomplete stat. It counts all contact as equal which is not the case. You have to delve further into Ground Ball rates, Line Drive Rates, Infield FlyBall Rates, etc. A .285 BABIP for a GB pitcher is totally different than a .285 BABIP for a FB pitcher.

              I have studied Sabermetrics in detail and there are a lot of good metrics out there but one must look at all of them to begin to make judgements on a pitcher. FIP & xFIP are probably the most accurate metrics and they show Hughes 2010 as almost identical to Nova’s 2011.

              • fishjam, I agree totally, that’s why you can’t trade Hughes and keep Nova. Sabermetrics are only a part of the story. Nova looked great tonight. Let’s hope they both have good years.

                • I think they both will…..another factor for 2013…..Nova will earn near league minimum while Hughes will be looking at $6-7 Million most likely in his 3rd Arbitration year.

                  • Probably much closer to $6MM than to $7MM considering his injury history in 2011 and the fact he’s making only $3.2MM this coming year.

                    Nova will be in his last pre-arb year next year. The Yankees will probably bump him up to about $750K from his present $527K he’ll be making this year.

                  • To Fish ,Doug,UYF,and my main man Ken.
                    Looking at the videos that Fish put up of Hughes in the minors what do you guys see ?
                    Can anyone explain why in Highschool he threw in the upper 90’s ? where did the velo go?
                    I see an injury in the making.Phil now pitches from the inverted W,he didn’t in the early days.His arm action has changed ,he looks stiff now .My guess is his shoulder has lost its integrity .There could be a slight tear causing him to alter his delivery.
                    IMO,you guys are over valueing a pitcher with a poor track record of health,durability,work ethic and most important shoddy arm action
                    That said as a fan I hope I’m wrong and you guys are all right,and Phil lights it up.

                    • BP….His mechanics were pretty clean in the Minors when he was the #1 prospect in all of baseball. Gotta think injuries are what have forced him to change.

                      It’s very strange how he holds the ball getting to his power position. He never extends his arm out behind him but keeps it curled into his body. Most pitchers will extend the arm out behind them with the ball facing towards 2nd base before starting their motion towards home. Hughes now keeps the ball inside his bent elbow, close to his body and faced towards home plate. By doing so, He gets no extension or downward plan.

                      He’s pitched this way for a few yrs now and showed he can be a decent pitcher with this weird arm action. HOWEVER, it really limits his potential to improve and like you said will likely continue to lead to shoulder breakdowns similar to last season’s mysterious injury. I think he’ll have a decent yr this yr and the Yanks shoud sell high on him before the next injury befalls him. Looking at guys like Phelps & Banuelos knocking on the door, I’d rather give them the shot and use the extra money saved elsewhere.

          • I think K/9, BB/9, and BABIP are the three top stats for evaluating pitchers, especially when you take their average over 5 years.

  6. Before I share my opinion on Hughes let me preface my comment by saying I am absolutely no expert on pitching. Having said that now, before we all throw dirt on Hughes’s career with the Yankees after this year let’s consider a couple of things.
    1st) If we take Hughes out of the equation of the Yankees rotation after the 2012 season we are left with CC, Pineda with 2 years of big league experience, Nova with basically 2 years big league experience and several prospects with virtually NO big league experience other then spring training games and perhaps a couple starts during Sept. call ups.
    2nd) Kuroda will be gone. So one of the starting rotation spots will need to be filled with his departure.

    Now I don’t know about anyone else but if the Yankees were to trade Hughes for a “bat” after the 2012 season. I’m not at all comfortable with a starting rotation of: CC granted an ace, Pineda who will be just 24 years old with just 2 years experience in the big leagues, Nova who will be 26 years old but with just 2 full seasons of big league experience and potentially 2 prospects with virtually NO big league experience.

    Assuming Pineda, Nova and Hughes all pitch up to expectations in 2012 it’s just my opinion that I would much prefer the Yankees try and trade a prospect or 2 for that “bat” previously mentioned. And then go into the 2013 campaign with: CC, Pineda, Nova, Hughes and 1 of the prospects. The Yankees are not the type of team in my opinion that can afford to go with potentially a starting rotation in 2013 that would include 4 pitchers that have a combined 4 years of big league experience (assuming they were to trade Hughes). That’s just my opinion.

    Like I said I’m by no means an expert but as a Yankees fan I would be extremely concerned about the team heading into the 2013 and 2014 season with A-Rod, Jeter and yes Tex all getting older by MLB standards and 4 starting pitchers with minimal MLB experience.

    • Yanks learned the hard way never to go with more than 1 rookie pitcher at a time. One or both of Kuroda and Garcia could be brought back or a similar veteran on a 1-yr deal.

    • uyf, I think you are very knowldgeable about pitching, it is one of the toughest things in sport to predict. I pitched 3 years in the minors along time ago, and coached high school baseball for 30 years, and I know how frustrating it can be.

      • Doug, I appreciate that. But, in all honesty you can put what I know about a pitchers mechanics, etc..inside a peanut shell and still have room for the peanut.

        What I tend to be good at is judging and evaluating people and their value to an organization and that’s really all baseball players are.

        But thank you anyway for the kind words.

      • Doug…
        Nice replys by you and Uyf1950.
        Fishjam had been a pitcher in college, so he also knows about pitching.
        Me, I am the worse of them all, I just do it, guys such as yourself and Fishjam can explain things much better then I can. I was coach, 2nd basemen and closer.
        It is nice to have all of you guys around.

        • old yankee, it’s nice to communicate with someone as knowledgeable as yourself. I’m a sports nut, sitting hear on my laptop typing and watching the NCAAs. You have given me many good insights on the game. Keep up the good work.

  7. if they get rid of Hughes and Kuroda has a solid year this year why can’t they bring him back on another one year deal instead of having 2 prospects join the rotation?

    • Matt they can and probably will.

    • There is nothing to say they can’t but I’m sure there will be a couple of things for them to consider:
      1st) Kuroda would 38 before the 2013 season starts.
      2nd) He would probably want a raise from the approximately $10MM he’s getting.
      3rd) He hasn’t given any indication that he wants to pitch in the states past this year.

      And to be honest I’m somewhat confused by the apparent rush to judgement about trading Hughes if he performs this year.

      If the Yankees are going to pay Kuroda upwards of around $12MM to stay on for the 2013 why wouldn’t you pay Hughes about $6MM in his final year of arbitration (2013) IF he performs well this season. Then if he has 2 good years under his belt (2012 and 2013) the Yankee can offer him a longer term deal. Or if they don’t see a long term deal in his future as the 2013 season progresses move him at the 2013 trade deadline. There should be plenty of teams interested at that time.

      • UYF – I just think the other pitchers have a higher ceiling than Hughes. You mentioned not wanting to have a group of inexperienced pitchers…..Hughes is only 25 with 1 full yr where he got more than 14 starts in a season so having him be your second most experienced guy wouldn’t be the best way to go.

        As for Kuroda, I doubt he would get a raise unless he has a tremendous yr. At 38, salaries usually stay the same or drop. But if not him, you can bring in another vet for around the same price….maybe even bring back Garcia.

        With all these young guys on the precipice (Banuelos, Betances, Phelps, Warren, Mitchell) someone has to go to give them a chance.

        • fishjam, I’m not arguing against the Yankees giving the young arms a chance. All I’m saying is if Hughes performs up to or exceed expectation this year. Why not bring him back next year and see how he does. If he has as a good year in 2013 this is just my opinion I’d rather have Hughes going forward.

          I would much rather go with a rotation in 2013 and beyond with: CC, Pineda, Nova, Hughes and Banuelos again assuming Pineda, Nova and Hughes live up to or exceed expectations this year and then in 2013.

          I realize Hughes has only had about 70 starts under his belt through the 2011 season but let’s not forget he did pitch out of the bullpen in 2009 and saw and had a chance to learn and observe the players on other teams. And if he does pitch well this year and remains healthy that will be another 30 starts. Again I don’t profess to be an expert but if Hughes is serious about maintaining his training regiment I think he can be and will be successful.

          I guess all I’m saying or trying to say is give Hughes this season and IF he does what’s expected of him he deserves to stay. It’s just me but I would love to see a 2014 starting rotation of: CC, Pineda, Nova, Hughes and Banuelos. One seasoned master, 4 young arms with varying degrees of experience by that time from the equivalent of 5 years to 3 years to 1 year. Besides who to say that Nova won’t be the one to flame out this year. Just food for thought.

          • UYF….your points are understood. And I think Hughes will do well this yr also. As you mentioned, it would seem logical to trade a pitcher for an OF that could take Swisher’s place – IMO Hughes would bring the better OF than if we were to trade a guy with little or no MLB experience like Phelps, Warren, Betances, etc. Anyway, its all conjecture until we see how everyone does this season. Another yr like last yr and Hughes will be DFA’d.

            • Yes, he will. but let’s all hope he doesn’t have another year like last year or anything close to what he had last year.

              And I absolutely agree a good performance by Hughes would undoubtedly bring a better guy via a trade. On the bright side I hope the Yankees are faced with the decision about what to do with Hughes if he has a very good year.

              • This is all quess work, if Hughes becomes another Kennedy you will be kicking yourself. Just look at Lee and Halliday in their first few years in the majors. Pitching is next to impossible to predict.

            • You never,never, trade a good pitcher for a good outfielder!

      • uyf, I’m with you on trading pitchers, they Yanks are finally in a position of strength with their pitching. Let the young bucks fight it out for positions, this is healthy for the team. Pineda, Nova, Hughes, Baneulos, Betances, Phelps, Warren, Mitchell, and others. You know the old saying, you can never have enough pitching.

        • Good morning Doug,
          I think when you are loaded with out slots for players you have to trade to improve positions of need .You can’t keep theses guys forever.Look at Brackman,top 5 in our system last year and cut this year.
          You make a valid point I would add the word Right,as in Kennedy,thats a mistake.Trading Joba when his value was high would not have been a mistake.

          • Ballpark….I have to think that went into their thinking with including Noesi in the Montero-Pineda trade. They were stacked with starting pitching depth in the MLB/AAA level and there were not enough slots for all those pitchers to get innings.

            In that respect I think Cashman made a good move in trading Noesi for a younger version of himself but with better upside. They had a bit of a shortage of high upside pitchers in the lower level and traded from their strength to improve it. I see no reason why they shouldn’t trade from that strength again to get the young OF they need.

          • ballpark, Brackman had Tommy John a few years ago and never reached his potential. The Yanks cut him because they no longer thought he was a prospect. The Reds just are taking a chance on him with little financial investment. Joba was throwing 97 last year when he got hurt, after Tommy John he could be real good. I would not trade either Joba or Hughes this year. The Yanks have no weak spots, but that doesn’t mean some won’t pop up during the year.

            • I would take my que for the Rays on trading pitchers, they seem to be stocked with young arms. They only traded Garza when they had a need. The Yanks don’t have a need.

              • Hey Doug I was a big Hughes supporter before he addmittedly showed up out of shape last year.The team was really counting on him with Andy retireing and he let the team down.He is lucky Nova came along and went 16 and 3 as a starter,because the Yanks would not have made the post season and Hughes would have caught alot of the blame.
                Thats a big reason why I’m not a Phil supporter.

                • ballpark, I don’t think his condition in the spring had anything to do with his performance. Writers look for negative stories, I think he just went along with it. Hughe’s biggest problem last year was that he was over used the year before (Verducci list). Yes and 2 years ago the Hughes won 18 games and saved the Yanks. Only the aces, like CC and Halliday have good years 5 years in a row, the rest of the pitchers are vulnerable.

                  • Doug –
                    Conditioning, weight training and preperation are huge keys to a player’s performance. It’s up to a player to get himself into proper condition so he can perform to the best of his abilities. When a guy shows up to camp overweight and out of shape it sends a message to his teammates that he doesn’t care, doesn’t take his profession seriously, is lazy and just sat around for 5 months. Work ethic is paramount in whether a young player continues to improve and if he ultimately reaches his full potential.

                    I feel a whole lot better about Hughes this yr since he came into ST in excellent condition and has been throwing 93 regularly. Last yr he came into camp noticeably out of shape and overweight and had trouble breaking 88 MPH.

                    • Players today all have their own personal trainers, it’s not like the old days where they were sitting around all winter or had to get a second job. Some body types are just different, CC, Pineda, and Joba have that body type, one is not in shape and the other is in shape. Mo is another body type along with Robertson.

                • Remember, Nova has had only one good year, similar to what Hughes did in 2010.

              • What did they get that filled a need ?

                • ballpark, first they got rid of a big salary in Garza, next Fuld was as hot as a firecracker at the beginning of last year. Third they picked up Chinros who caught a bit, and Archer is a good prospect. They also picked up a good SS prospect, and opened the door for Hellickson. Hughes will not get you that kind of return, and none of the Yanks picthers are the quality of Hellickson and Moore.

              • Doug……Since you mentioned the Rays trading Garza, I think that is a great way to look at what the Yanks will be looking at after this season.

                TB didn’t deal Garza bc they had a need. They traded him because they had a lot of pitching depth with Hellickson ready to step in for Garza. Garza was beginning to make more money and TB dealt him for a great group of young prospects including 2 of Chicago’s best in P Chris Archer and A-ball SS Hak-Ju Lee.

                After this season the Yanks will be in the same shoes TB was hopefully. They shoud have a lot of depth in the rotation with potentially several talented young starters ready to step in. It may make sense to deal someone from that depth to restock the farm system and obtain a MLB-ready OF that can possibly step in for Swisher.

                Hughes doesn’t need to be the one deat but he may bring more in a trade than someone with no MLB experience. Doug, who do you want to play RF and DH for the Yanks in 2013?

                • fishjam, you are 100% correct, but I’m not sure that Phelps, Warren, Mitchell, or Baneulos are as good as Hellickson and Moore. These guys were rated as top minor league prospects, the Yankee pitchers weren’t rated as A prospects.

    • Matt, it’s hard to tell how Kuroda will do, Vasquez had top stats as a pitcher 3 years ago, and he fell flat on his face, his stats projected him as an ace. I say give it time, it will all come out in the wash.

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