Phil Hughes pitches tonight for the Yankees, lugging his 0-3 record and 8.82 ERA with him. He is also lugging the expectations that go along with being called ‘The Franchise’ and of having his team pass on a trade for one of the best pitchers of this generation to keep him.
If Hughes gets battered around tonight I can see the headlines that will scream “Franchise Flop,” and hear the talk radio blabbermouths. They will be all over Hughes and all over the Yankees for passing on Johan Santana.
If he pitches well, he will be a hero. It will be, see, we didn’t need to make the deal. This guy is a stud.
Geesh, can eveybody just calm down about Hughes for a little while?
It is the New York fan mindset to change their opinion about everything after every game. Bad game — guy sucks, get rid of him. Good game — hero, give him a monument.
It doesn’t work that way, people. You can’t judge Hughes, or the Santana decision, four starts into Hughes’ first full big-league season.
In fact, you can’t even fairly judge the non-trade of Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Melky Cabrera after this season — or maybe even next. The reality is that it will take three, four seasons — maybe even longer — until we can say for certain whether the Yankees made the right move.
Unfortunately, New York fans aren’t conditioned to work that way. They want results NOW! Yankee fans have talked about wanting to see these young pitchers in New York, and are now finding out that patience and growing pains are part of the deal — a part they are not accustomed to.
There are very few Dwight Goodens in the world — pitchers who enter the league at a very young age (19 in Gooden’s case) and dominate right away. It simply isn’t normal.
What is normal is some of what we are seeing with Hughes and Kennedy. They will struggle at times, though it is Hughes we should primarily pay attention to. He is the guy who is looked as a pitcher who could be a No. 1 for years to come.
Look no farther than the only two 300-game winners currently pitching in the big leagues.
- At 22, Greg Maddux went 6-14 with a 5.61 ERA. He has only gone on to win 349 games and four Cy Young Awards.
- Also at 22, Tom Glavine went 7-17, 4.56. He has 303 wins and two Cy Youngs.
Need a little more evidence?
- Randy Johnson. He has 284 career wins. His first season, at the age of 25? Try 7-13, 4.82 and traded by Montreal. Would you say that was a mistake by the Expos?
So, no matter what happens tonight remember this: Hughes — and Kennedy — are not yet what they are likely destined to become.
Stick with them. While neither of them may win 300 games, the future is much, much brighter than the present.
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