Tuesday, January 29, 2008

16 Days, 16 Players: Phil Hughes

Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 27 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training, and 2 we believe should be on the active roster but won't be for one reason or another. Our reviews are all edited by Carl Pavano himself to insure they're up to the stringent "Pavano Tough" standards.

RHP Phil Hughes

Since being invited to spring training in 2006, young Phil Hughes has been touted as the future of Yankees pitching. Because of this, many fans were disappointed when his name came up in trade rumors for Johan Santana. The Yankees commitment to youth, however, ultimately won the day over their tendency to overreact in the face of an early playoff exit and Phil Hughes is likely to remain in pin stripes for some time.

Because of various Marty Miller induced injuries to the pitching staff in early 2007, Phil Hughes was called up ahead of schedule to start for the Yankees. When Phil Hughes took the mound for his second start against the Texas Rangers we all witnessed a glimpse of the future. He threw 6 and 1/3 innings of no-hit baseball prior to straining his hamstring while trying to make the perfect pitch to Mark Teixeira. While the injury was unfortunate, we all witnessed an incredibly young pitcher (21 years old) no-hitting a major league line-up that included the likes of Teixeira.
While at first less effective when he returned from injury due to lack of arm strength and mechanics that had been thrown off kilter by the injury (and later ankle injury during rehab, damn you Marty Miller!), Hughes fixed his mechanics and built his arm strength back up in time for an incredible performance in game 3 of the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians. Hughes pitched 3 and 2/3 innings in relief of Roger Clemens for his first post-season victory. I was at that game (jealous much?) and the way Hughes handled the pressure showed exactly why he has the poise and the stuff to be an ace of the Yankees pitching stuff for years to come.

Fearless Prediction:

Hughes wins 17 games in 2008 with an ERA below 4.

Little Known Fact About Phil Hughes:

Phil Hughes once saved a train full of people by bridging a gap in the train tracks with his own body and letting the train roll over him to safety.

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