It's Thursday, things are as interesting as ever in Yankeeland, and I've got nothing planned to write about. Let's muse. - So Phil Hughes has now made 8 starts this season. He's had 4 really good ones (6 ER, 30 K/5 BB in 28 IP) and 4 really bad ones (21 ER, 7 K/6 BB in 13.1 IP). Two small sample sizes, but plenty within each and within the overall 8 games to start making reasonable assessments, especially based on Phil's career body of work. Despite how good he can look when he's on, Phil is nothing more than a #4 starter right now and looking more and more like that's his ceiling. To have three seasons as a starter under your belt and still not be able to locate a fastball consistently is just not a good thing. Last night Phil showed again how helpless he is when he can't locate his. His offspeed stuff just isn't good enough for him to fully rely on it, and when he misses fastball it gets ugly.
- Even with last night's hideous numbers included, Phil's xFIP on the season is still 4.30, not too far off from the 4.35 he posted last season. So what's that type of pitcher worth? How much more will Phil really stand to make because of his age? Every one of these bad starts for the rest of the year is going to spark all the Phil contract questions and the debate over whether the Yankees should or shouldn't re-sign him. I think it's going to come down to what they see from Pineda by season's end, because Phil is a known commodity at this point. My concern is that the decision makers will put too much emphasis on his good starts because he's homegrown. Personally, I'd have no issues letting him walk.
- So how about David Adams, huh? Kid has pretty much the best day you can have as a Minor League ball player yesterday and is set up now in one of the best situations a prospect like him could ask for. He's going to get at least a few weeks to start every day and audition for a role that this team and next year's team are desperately going to need. If there's enough power in Adams' bat at the Major League level, he could be looking at a lot of playing time at the hot corner. Youkilis has barely started doing anything in Tampa, A-Rod is going to continue to need time off for rest/injuries, and the Yankees are still going to be short right-handed bats. I don't want to read too much into things, but having this kind of red carpet rolled out for your career path has to say something about what the organization thinks of Adams, no?
- Speaking of Kevin Youkilis, this back problem has to be a lot worse than what's been reported. He's literally just started doing light drills in Tampa, the most basic of baseball activities with minimal movement. He's nowhere near returning and there's no telling how long his back is going to hold up, so now that decision to bring him back to play in one game before putting him on the DL looks even worse. I can't believe I'm saying this about Kevin Youkilis, but it's actually a shame that things went down the way they did. Youkilis looked good all spring and through the early part of the regular season and he would have been a perfect fit as another piece to this patchwork group of guys who somehow find ways to win games.
- Joba's gotta be coming back soon, and after last night the easy candidate to be sent down would be Brett Marshall. That would give the Yankees a bullpen of Mo, D-Rob, Joba, Logan, Claiborne, Kelley, and Warren. Not a bad little homegrown 'pen there...
- While it doesn't mean much for next year, Austin Romine isn't doing much to help his future as the Yankee starting catcher. He's been forgettable behind the plate, has looked greatly overmatched at it, and he's got J.R. Murphy and Gary Sanchez both raking and both drawing positive reviews on their defensive improvements behind him in the Minors. With both of them expected to get bumped to Triple and Double-A later this summer, Romine's window of opportunity to make an impact is really shrinking.
- If the season ended today, Joe Girardi would be AL Manager of the Year and it wouldn't even be a contest. I wish there were BCS-style polls tracking and ranking the award contenders all season long. That would be fun.
- To me, the biggest effect of CC's offseason surgery hasn't been the decrease in fastball velocity, although that probably explains why he's so hittable these days. It's been his big drop in slider usage. That's been his go-to out pitch for the last 2 seasons, a pitch he truly mastered after he came to New York, and he's throwing it just 22.2% of the time this year, down almost 10% from 2012. His changeup is nasty, don't get me wrong, but his slider is still his best pitch and it seems like CC is concerned about the stress it puts on his elbow.
- Still have a great chance to get another series win tonight with Andy on the mound. Seattle's nothing special against lefties, and Aaron Harang has been absolute garbage this season. Shake off last night, boys.